What is “lysine”? Lysine is an amino acid, stated plainly. In supplement form, it is labeled mainly for the purpose of assisting in collagen synthesis but has a secondary and well-known following for treating cold sore breakouts.

Some claim this amino acid has been their magic bullet for fending off these breakouts, while others say it doesn’t do much for them in this arena. In any event, you may need to supplement with it for a while before discerning any benefits.

Cold Sores – What causes them?

Many people who begin to experience cold sores and other related symptoms often do not realize this is more than just a bout of extreme dryness and cracking until it drags on for a while. Many are only clued in that this is a chronic issue when the symptoms begin to recur time and time again after seemingly clearing up spontaneously.

Cold sores or “fever blisters” are an uncomfortable and often embarrassing and disquieting manifestation of the herpes virus. It is estimated roughly half the population, including children, are infected with the two variations of the herpes virus responsible for oral breakouts.

Two strains of the herpes virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2, are thought to be the primary contributors. Oral herpes breakouts are defined by tiny fluid filled blisters clustering on and around the lips, inside the nose, and occasionally inside the mouth or on the chin.

These blisters can often be painful and uncomfortable, with a hallmark burning sensation along with tingling. One can usually tell when the onset of a flareup is coming simply by recognizing the beginning symptoms. Often these are a burning or very dry sensation on the lips, and a deep redness almost like a sunburn.

One may think they simply have extremely chapped lips at first as no amount of lip balm seems to soothe the total lack of moisture. They may even notice painful cracking and redness on the skin surrounding the lips. The beginning stages of a flareup is the best time to begin treatment – no matter what your treatment option (including lysine and antiviral medications).

This is when a lot of people turn to lysine in both oral supplement form as well as a multitude of lip balms and salves that contain lysine as a topical treatment. However, at least anecdotally, most people experience the best results using lysine internally.

Treatment options

There are two primary antiviral medications that can help reduce and treat breakouts, but they must be taken at the beginning stages to be most effective. Otherwise, one can typically expect a breakout to subside after about two weeks so long as their immune system is functioning properly.

The interesting thing about the herpes viruses that cause cold sores is that some people can harbor the virus and be totally asymptomatic. Some people may break out several times a year. Others may have one breakout, and then never really have any more problems with it. It depends on the person.

The virus does remain dormant the majority of the time, which is why people usually don’t experience constant breakouts. The bad news is, once you have the virus, there is no way to get rid of it. It will remain in the body for life, its just a case by case basis how active the virus will be.

Why does lysine seem to help suppress cold sore breakouts?

While it does not work in every individual, lysine can help shorten the duration of a cold sore breakout. Some people may respond to it immediately, while others find little or no benefit in treating with lysine. Like any other treatment though, it is most helpful to use it at the first recognition of the symptoms.

Lysine inhibits the production of another amino acid called arginine. Arginine is required by the herpes virus in able to grow. When you begin hitting your body with lysine, it essentially cuts off part of the blister’s growth enabler.

Lysine is a fairly inexpensive supplement, so trying it out will not put too big a dent in your wallet. The potential side effects are fairly mild as well. As long as you keep your dosage at the recommended level and don’t go too high, side effects should be minimal. Oh, and there’s also the side benefit of lysine stimulating collagen production – which naturally decreases as we get older.

Cold sore recurrence triggers: stress, anxiety and hormonal fluctuations

Periods of stress, anxiety and hormone imbalance are linked to cold sore outbreaks. Much like other inflammatory types of afflictions, cold sores are more likely to show up during internal chaos. Keeping stress and anxiety levels at a minimum will be helpful in reducing breakout frequency.

Whatever happens to be your own magic bullet - exercise, meditation, yoga, or other stress reduction techniques, utilizing these more often can come in very useful to reduce breakouts.

Author's Bio: 

Danna Norek is the founder of https://www.AuraSensory.com where you can find natural hair and skin care products as well as a brand new product - Herbal Relief Lip Balm, designed to effectively prevent, help treat and soothe cold sores. She is passionate and knowledgeable on the subject of natural health and well-being, and writes about informative, interesting and often times little-known health and beauty secrets in the Aura Sensory blog.