By R. Y. Langham, Ph.D.
Fever blisters, also called cold sores, are caused by the herpes simplex virus, type 1. The blisters can occur on your lips, cheeks, chin, gums or nostrils. You might experience a tingling sensation one to two days before the initial fever blister outbreak of fluid-filled blisters around your mouth. These blisters generally last between 10 and 14 days, although they can last longer. The exact cause varies, but illness, sunburn, wind, stress, hormonal changes or a weakened immune system can trigger an outbreak. A variety of vitamins can prevent or fight the herpes simplex virus and banish fever blisters.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that improves immune system function and protects your body from damaging free radicals that can cause fever blisters, according to Alice Feinstein, author of the book “Prevention’s Healing with Vitamins.” Feinstein reports that vitamin A also reduces the frequency and severity of fever blisters, accelerates the healing process, eases blister pain, repairs damaged tissues, aids in red blood cell formation and increases the amount of collagen in your body. The recommended daily dosage of vitamin A is 900 mcg for men and 700 mcg for women. Foods rich in vitamin A include beef, cod liver oil, eggs, liver, milk, carrots, kale, and spinach.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that strengthens your immune system and lowers your risk of developing the herpes simplex virus, the virus commonly associated with fever blisters, according to Phyllis Balch, author of the book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Balch explains that vitamin C also aids in collagen production, hydrates your skin, decreases inflammation, accelerates the healing process and helps repair damaged tissues. The recommended daily dosage of vitamin C is 1,000 mg for adults. Foods rich in vitamin C include strawberries, cranberries, grapefruits, broccoli, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, oranges, and tomatoes.
Zinc is an essential mineral that boosts immune system function and protects you against the herpes simplex virus, notes Steve Blake, author of the book “Vitamins and Minerals Demystified.” Blake reports that zinc also helps heal skin sores, relieves blister pain and swelling, prevents the virus from multiplying and stops the blisters from recurring in the future. The recommended daily dosage for zinc is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. Foods rich in zinc include oysters, beef shanks, fortified cereals, low-fat fruit yogurt, baked beans, chickpeas and Swiss cheese.
Calcium is an important mineral that reduces oxidative stress in the body, lowers your risk of developing fever blisters and cold sores, eliminates fever blister pain, speeds up the healing process, minimizes herpes outbreaks and strengthens your immune system, according to Michael Zimmermann, author of the book “Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition: Micronutrients in the Prevention and Therapy of Disease.” The recommended daily dosage of calcium is 1,000 mg for adults. Foods rich in calcium include plain yogurt, sardines, milk, mozzarella, salmon, tofu, ice cream, pudding, fortified soy milk, tortillas, sour cream, ready-to-eat cereals, and spinach.