An estimated 80% of the population are infected with herpes simplex type I, the virus that causes these unsightly eruptions around the lips.
The connection between cold sores and red wine is based on more than just folklore. Grape skins contain a chemical called resveratrol, whose natural function is to protect grapes from fungal infection. When a doctor learned that resveratrol could inhibit DNA synthesis — a process necessary for the herpes virus to replicate — he tested it in the lab and discovered that the chemical did indeed block the virus. Does this mean red wine is a cure for cold sores? Not exactly. But it is an example of how folk medicine may lead to clinical studies.
But it’s possible that the drying effect of the alcohol in red wine combined with the tiny amount of resveratrol could reduce the duration of a cold sore. If you want to give red wine a try next time you feel a cold sore coming on, simply dot a cotton swab with red wine, and dab it on the developing blister every 4 hours. It’s best to do this at the first signs of tingling or tenderness. Since the duration of a cold sore varies for each individual, it’s difficult to predict how much quicker your sore may heal. Cold sores tend to disappear on their own within 10 days.
In the meantime, don’t touch the sore or kiss anyone, and don’t share drinking glasses, wash-cloths, towels, or anything else that might come in contact with the sore, because the virus can spread easily.
In case you were wondering, drinking red wine will not help a cold sore.
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