Foods That Can Make Your Cold Sore Worse

Having a cold sore is more than just an aesthetic nuisance, as the pesky blisters can cause pain, burning, and itching (via Medical News Today). These sores, sometimes called fever blisters, tend to come and go, and those living with them grow accustomed to learning the triggers that might cause an outbreak (via Healthline). Common causes include extreme weather, a weak immune system, stress, and hormone fluctuations. Some people claim that even eating certain foods can provoke an outbreak.

Eat This, Not That! suggests that there are certain foods to avoid when a cold sore is present, as some ingredients — such as arginine, an amino acid — can make healing more difficult. Those with the herpes virus, which is where the cold sores stem from, should avoid foods containing arginine when they feel a flare coming on, as the Mayo Clinic reports that it can trigger the virus and slow down the healing process. Foods high in arginine include nuts, seeds, dairy products, and chocolate (via WebMD). 

Support the immune system when you have a cold sore

The immune system plays a crucial role in keeping cold sores at bay, and avoiding foods that undermine it is a great way to support the body's natural healing abilities (via SFGATE). Sugar is one of those foods to avoid, as it hinders the white blood cells' ability to kill bacteria. Eat This, Not That! advises you to pass on highly acidic foods like citrus fruits during an outbreak, as they can stop a scab from forming over the open blister, as well as provoke a scabbed-over sore to re-open. If you depend on these fruits for your vitamin C intake, the publication suggests eating a yellow bell pepper instead, which offers 568% of the daily recommended value. 

Foods that can help boost the immune system and speed up cold sore healing include red tea, swiss cheese, and carrots, which are full of vitamin A, an essential nutrient to help regulate the immune systems T-cells (via Eat This, Not That!).