A cold sore is a small red blister that develops on the upper or lower lip. Before the cold sore occurs, you will feel a tingle on the lip. The cold sore may be painful and you may also notice that it may burst or drain. When the cold sore starts to heal, it may be itchy. Cold sores may occur if you are infected with the herpes simplex virus, and the occurrence of cold sores may be triggered by different factors such as stress. Certain foods are thought to trigger cold sore outbreaks as well. The virus cannot be cured; it remains dormant and may be reactivated by a number of foods such as rice, peas, beer, coffee or sugars. The following foods can trigger a cold sore outbreak:

1. Arginine or Amino Acids

Amino acids, such as arginine, can trigger cold sores if you have the herpes simplex virus. Arginine is used by the cells to make nitric acid, which is essential for the cardiovascular system and the blood flow. However, arginine can lead to frequent outbursts of cold sores, so it should be avoided as much as possible.

There are several foods that contain the arginine amino acid: rice, peas, gelatin, beer or chocolate. Reducing these from your diet can decrease the frequency of cold sores.

2. Sugar

Sugar may facilitate the occurrence of cold sores, as the glucose can make the white blood cells weaker and weaken the immune system as well. A weaker immune system may lead to outbursts of the herpes virus and cold sores.

In addition, sugars can also contribute to stress, as sugars hinder the proper vitamin B absorption and vitamin B can reduce stress. Stress is a major cold sore trigger.

3. Caffeine in Excess

Caffeine can cause cold sores. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine such as coffee, cola or certain teas. However, some studies have shown that these drinks in low amounts will not cause cold sores. Some studies even show that small amounts of caffeine can inhibit the herpes virus function.

Consequently, you can drink caffeine, but in limited amounts. Caffeine can also work as a topical solution for cold sores; when applying a bit of coffee or black tea on a cold sore, it may heal faster than normally.

Preventing Cold Sores

If you tend to have frequent cold sores, you should get some vitamin supplements which can help the immune system and inhibit the herpes simplex virus.

Even if certain amino acids, such as arginine, can trigger cold sore outbreaks, there are certain amino acids that can help prevent cold sore outbreaks. Lysine is an amino acid that can inhibit the herpes simplex virus.

You may also get some vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin E plus iron and zinc supplements, which can also work in preventing cold sore outbreaks, or at least reduce the duration of a cold sore outbreak.