Q.Cold sores are driving me crazy. I get them frequently in the summer, whenever I spend any time in the sun. If I am under stress, a cold sore is sure to follow.
They are painful and ugly. People stare at them, and I get very embarrassed. At a family reunion this summer, everyone was kissing and hugging, but nobody wanted to get too close to me. Is there any supplement or medicine that would help?
A.Cold sores, also called fever blisters, are caused by a herpes virus. Some people are especially susceptible to outbreaks time after time. Although no medicines can cure herpes simplex, there are a number of agents that can speed healing and reduce recurrences.
Prescription antiviral drugs such as Zovirax (acyclovir) and Denavir (penciclovir) are effective against cold sores. Although other anti- herpes medicines (Famvir and Valtrex) are not specifically approved for cold sores, you may want to discuss them with your physician.
Many people have told us that avoiding foods high in arginine (nuts, seeds, meats and oatmeal, for example) and taking the amino acid lysine help ward off fever blisters. Wearing a hat and applying a high-SPF lip balm when you are out in the sun may also be a helpful preventive measure.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of Features Department, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or e-mail them at their Web site (www .peoplespharmacy.com).
King Features Syndicate