What Causes Lip Outbreaks?
The infection that causes fever blisters can lie dormant for a period of time, only to emerge once a certain trigger activates it. Most people can feel when an upcoming lip outbreak is about to occur, which can help them prepare for treating it. However, an extra proactive step forward involves predicting and knowing the factors that can cause the outbreak in the first place.
Triggers for lip outbreaks vary from person to person, so it’s important to listen to your own body and keep tabs on what commonly triggers lip outbreaks for you. With that said, avoiding these triggers can help prevent the emergence of an outbreak or lip blister.
Environmental factors are responsible for the majority of lip outbreaks. This includes extremes in the weather such as:
- Sun exposure. Large amounts of UV radiation from the sun can damage the skin and cause chapped lips, increasing the likelihood of a lip outbreak.
- Cold winds. Cold temperatures and moisture changes alongside harsh winds can trigger lip outbreaks. Additionally, winds can cause dry, cracked lips which make them more vulnerable to outbreaks.
Foods that may cause Lip outbreaks
Research indicates that restricting foods that contain a lot of arginine can help stage off lip outbreaks and lip blisters. Arginine is an amino acid used by the body to synthesize proteins. Arginine-containing foods that may trigger a lip outbreak include:
- Nuts including includes almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts.
- Dark leafy greens. For example, spinach.
- Seeds: This includes pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds.
In addition, large changes to the routine of your diet, such a sudden, increased consumption of highly acidic foods, can increase the frequency of outbreaks.
Health-related factors that cause outbreaks
Many health-related factors can make an outbreak more likely. This includes:
- Hormonal changes. Fluctuating hormone levels, such as what occurs during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or as a result of birth control pill use, can trigger lip outbreaks and lip blisters.
- Mental stress can wreak havoc on the immune system and predispose you to lip outbreaks. This one is largely due to the increased levels of cortisol that is released under stress, which suppresses the immune system.
- Lack of sleep. Similar to stress, feeling tired and losing out on quality sleep can make it more likely to suffer a lip outbreak. Sleep deprivation majorly taxes the immune system.
- Common colds and flu weaken the immune system and can up the chance of an infection. Inflammatory conditions that stress the immune system, such as eczema and psoriasis, can also make an lip outbreak or cold sore more likely.
- Mouth surgery, and even dental treatment, can put physical stress and pressure on the mouth area. The stress and anxiety accompanying these procedures can also further increase the chances of a lip outbreak.
- Skin Injuries. Skin trauma, particularly around the lips, can trigger lip outbreaks and blisters
- Immunosuppressant Medications. This includes medications to control severe psoriasis, cancer chemotherapy, or anti-rejection drugs for organ transplants. All of these can suppress the immune system and make an lip outbreak more likely.
The various environmental, health-related, and food triggers discussed above can predictably bring the infection from its dormant to its active state, but this varies widely from person to person. Knowing your own personal triggers is the most effective way to stop an lip outbreak.. Keeping a daily journal or log of your diet, lifestyle, and health can help you narrow down the specific factors for you that precede an outbreak.
Overall, knowing the common outbreak triggers can go a long way towards predicting an oncoming outbreak (which can then be swiftly addressed with creams and other treatments) or completely avoiding one altogether. This benefits others as well, as knowing what factors influence an outbreak can help stop the spread of the infection.
The common thread through all of the triggers is a weakened immune system, so keeping a healthy diet and lifestyle in addition to taking immune-boosting supplements can all help to keep the immune system in optimal shape to prevent or combat any emerging outbreaks.