Cold sores are small, but very painful, fluid-filled blisters, which form on or near the lips.

After the cold sore virus has been contracted, it lies dormant in the body.

A tingling or numbness on the lip is normally the first indication a cold sore is about to erupt.

It is normally when your immune system is busy with an infection or possibly just a little run down when the cold sore virus takes the opportunity to attack, but they can also be triggered by stress, tiredness, menstruation and strong sunlight.

Cold sores are extremely contagious and can be transmitted through close contact. It is of paramount importance that you should never kiss a baby or infant if there’s any possibility you may have a cold sore.

This virus has the potential to cause serious health issues for a young child’s immune system, so always err on the side of caution if you have a cold sore and cover it with a sterile patch if there’s a chance a baby will reach out and accidentally touch your lip.

It’s not possible to prevent a cold sore appearing. However, some triggers may be avoidable, such as wearing SPF15 lip balm while out in strong sunlight. Research has shown that your diet can potentially impact your body’s defence against cold sores and in some cases even help to heal the sores. Foods rich in immunity-boosting vitamin C can also aid the body is warding off a cold sore. Cold sores tend to thrive when your immune system is already compromised, so eating antioxidant-rich foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, will help to strengthen your immune system against infections.

The virus is known to prosper in the presence of an amino acid called arginine, which is found in foods such as peanuts, chocolate, wheat and oats, so these are best avoided if an attack is imminent.

However, lysine, another common essential amino acid, has been promoted for its ability to prevent or ease cold sore outbreaks. Lysine can be bought in supplement form (check with your pharmacist or GP before starting on any new supplements) but it also occurs naturally in many foods. Good sources of lysine include foods which are rich in protein, such as, meat, eggs, cheese, fish, and tofu.

It can be particularly painful to eat when a cold sore is covering any part of the lip. Soft foods, soups, juices and smoothies may be easy enough to tolerate. Acidic, spicy and salty foods are best avoided until the cold sore has fully healed.


Banana ice milk

This ice milk is a cross between an ice cream and a sorbet. Its soft consistency makes it easy-to-tolerate for anyone who is complaining of a sore mouth.

500ml whole milk

1 ripe banana

25g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1 Add all the ingredients to a high-powered blender and blitz for about 30 seconds, or until smooth.
  • 2 Pour into a shallow, freezer-proof dish. Cover and place in the freezer.
  • 3 Stir every hour for about six hours and then leave to freeze overnight.
  • 4 When ready to serve, take from the freezer and scrape through the mixture, using a fork, to create a slushie-like mixture. Serve straightaway.
  • Mildly spiced baked chicken & cauliflower rice

    Serves four

    Mildly spiced baked chicken with cauliflower rice. \ Nessa Robins

    This chicken is full of flavour, but not spicy enough to irritate a sore mouth. For maximum taste, marinade the chicken breasts the night before you intend to cook them. For the cauliflower rice, you can either use a box grater, as you would for cheese, or a food processor with a grater blade in-situ.

    200g Greek yoghurt

    4 cloves of garlic, crushed

    1 tsp garam masala

    1 tsp turmeric

    Juice of ½ lemon

    Sea salt and black pepper

    4 chicken fillets

    Olive oil

    1 cauliflower, cut into florets

    1 tbsp olive oil

    1 tsp turmeric

    To serve:

    Steamed broccoli

  • 1 In a large dish, combine the yoghurt, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, and lemon juice. Season with a little salt and pepper and stir to combine.
  • 2 With a sharp knife, add three small slits to each chicken fillet – to encourage the marinade to soak in a little more. Add the chicken to the marinade and coat each piece well. Cover the dish and place in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  • 3 Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C /gas mark 6.
  • 4 Place the marinaded fillets on a tinfoil lined tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and place in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, depending on their size, and turn halfway through cooking.
  • 5 To make the cauliflower rice, grate the cauliflower florets. Place a large pan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and once hot add the grated cauliflower. Sprinkle over the turmeric. Season with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir to combine. Place a lid on the pan, which will help the cauliflower to steam, and cook for eight minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • 6 To serve, divide the cauliflower rice between the plates. Place the cooked chicken fillet on top and serve with some steamed broccoli on the side.
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