A cold sore sufferer who dreaded having the ‘conversation’ at the start of new relationships claims a balm made from liquorice has stopped them in their tracks.
Nicola Freeman, 37, from Hampshire, who got her first cold sore aged 16, says at her worst, she had six large cold sores at the same time.
‘My lips were swollen and felt like they were being stabbed by hot pins constantly,’ she explained. ‘Most recently I had a breakout just after Christmas where one of the four on my lips was the size of a 10p, spreading down my chin. It lasted two weeks and the scar can still be seen.’
However, after trying every solution under the sun, the wedding planner finally found an unlikely answer in the form of £8.50 Lip Q Liquorice Balm – which she says helped to clear up her symptoms in days.
Nicola Freeman, 37, from Hampshire, has suffered with cold sores since her teens but claims she has been cold sore free since she started using LipQ Liquorice Balm in February. Pictured, with a cold sore in November 2019
The wedding planner claims the balm has helped to stop the cold sores in their tracks. Pictured, recently, after applying the product
The wedding planner says she probably caught the virus from her mum who has cold sores – even though she was always very cautious around her and her sister.
‘It could not have been a worse age to get my first cold sore really,’ she explained. ‘It made me feel self-conscious and dented my confidence at a period of life when confidence is difficult anyway.’
Nicola went on to explain that her cold sores got worse and worse over time – especially once she hit 30.
‘The breakouts became more intense and more frequent, often every 4-6 weeks, lasting up to two weeks at a time,’ she explained.
Nicola has praised the £8.50 balm for helping her cold sores to disappear
‘Having cold sores dramatically affects my confidence and always has,’ she said. ‘When I have a really bad breakout I will often feel physically ill at the same time with a cold-like feeling and general lethargy.’
‘The physical pain is sometimes so bad it keeps me awake at night. If I had a cold sore I would often cancel social or business plans and avoid contact with others as I didn’t want to be seen in public.’
She continued: ‘When I did go out in public with them I avoided eye contact and always found myself apologising for the “state” of my face.
The 37-year-old says she’s had guys in the past who have laughed at her and made negative comments that haven’t helped her insecurities about her cold sores. Pictured, before with cold sore on 2 November 2019
Nicola (pictured, cold-sore free) says that having the ‘cold sore’ conversation at the start of a new relationship was difficult
‘My job involves a lot of face-to-face contact and I was finding that the cold sores were affecting my confidence at meetings with clients.’
What causes cold sores and what are they like?
Herpes viruses cause cold sores, which most commonly appear on the lips or genitals.
Around seven in 10 people in the UK are infected with the viruses.
However, only around one in three experience symptoms.
Cold sores on the lips most commonly get passed on by being kissed by someone with an active cold sore.
They begin as a small red patch that blisters before bursting, leaving a raw area that scabs.
Cold sores that appear on the face are most commonly caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus.
Type 2 mainly affects the genitals.
It is rare for cold sores to spread away from the site they first appeared in.
Cold sores can reappear if triggered by stress, illness, alcohol or too much sunlight.
This is because the virus stays in a nerve junction near the spinal cord.
Many feel an itch, tingle or shooting pain before a cold sore reappears.
Antiviral medication may be prescribed if someone frequently suffers from outbreaks.
Keeping sores moisturised can stop them cracking and becoming painful.
Source: Herpes Viruses Association
Nicola says that having the ‘cold sore’ conversation at the start of a new relationship was difficult.
‘I have had guys in the past who have laughed at me and make negative comments that haven’t helped my insecurities about my cold sores,’ she said. ‘When you get cold sores on a regular basis it can’t fail to have a negative effect on a relationship – especially a new one.
‘Close physical contact has to stop, for sometimes up to two weeks. The fear of passing the virus on can be all-consuming at times.’
She added: ‘Luckily, my friends and family are used to them by now and always tell me it does not look as bad as I think.
‘I have realised people who care will see past them. I have found that being open with people helps open up channels of communication and then people understand.
‘I worked in an office once where 75% of us suffered from cold sores so we had a good support network.’
Nicola went on to say that any major event is always a nightmare if you get cold sores.
‘Birthdays, Christmas, holidays, family events, dates – I always fear getting an attack at these times,’ she said. ‘Every other holiday would be affected by a cold sore because of changes in temperature.’
‘As I have got older, I have learnt that I cannot miss out on life because of my cold sores, especially as they were getting more and more frequent, but it does affect enjoyment of special events.
‘I love taking photographs as capturing memories is so important to me, but having a cold sore breakout makes me feel ugly and not want to be in front of the camera.
Nicola has never seen a doctor about her cold sores as she knows what they are and how she got them, and so over the years she has tried to self-medicate, knowing they would always be there.
‘When I say self-medicate I mean I have literally tried everything,’ she explained, ‘Off the shelf topical ointments, lysine tablets, ice cubes, applying alcohol, patches, a very expensive light treatment machine and natural remedies of every kind.
Nicola (pictured, cold-sore free) says she noticed the start of a bump on her lip, applied the balm overnight and the next day it had disappeared
The wedding planner hasn’t had actual breakouts since she started using the balm. Pictured, cold-sore free
‘I have spent hours on Google and a lot of money on trying to find a cure.’
However, about eight years ago Nicola found a balm in a market on a trip to Morocco which did help reduce her outbreaks all the while she used the balm.
HOW DOES THE LIQUORICE BALM WORK?
A lip balm containing a highly concentrated extract of liquorice helps protect lips from cold sores, according to a study carried out by the Herpes Virus Association.
The key cold sore fighting ingredient in liquorice is glycyrrhizic acid (GA). GA specifically targets the genes that are required to maintain the virus in its latent state by interfering with the production of special proteins that feed the infected cells.
Research published in the US Journal of Clinical Investigation has shown that liquorice has the ability to weaken the cold sore virus which lies dormant in the skin between outbreaks.
Unlike conventional treatments, due to its naturally derived ingredients, the balm can be worn at all times without any negative side-effects, meaning that it could be used before and during festivals to prevent cold sore outbreaks.
‘I had only purchased one pot and didn’t know what the ingredients were so could never purchase again,’ she said. ‘But all that changed when I discovered Lip Q Liquorice Balm in February this year.’
‘My mum found out about it in a health article and purchased one for me after I had bad breakouts for over four months in a row.
Nicola claims she noticed a difference straight away.
‘I had a really bad breakout just after the product arrived so I used it at every stage of the cold sore and it did clear up much quicker than normal,’ she said.
‘I quickly purchased four more balms to ensure I had one in my car, one in my handbag, one in the lounge, one in the office and one in my bedroom.’
‘I didn’t realise quite how miraculous this balm was until I had the tingling of a second cold sore outbreak a few weeks later – by this stage I was getting them every couple of weeks.’
She continued: ‘I felt the familiar tingle and burn that is the first warning of a nasty breakout. I noticed the start of a bump on my lip (the early stages of a cold sore) so lavished on the balm all night. By the next day it had disappeared! I couldn’t believe it!’
Nicola claims the product has succeeded in preventing her cold sores growing and bursting and turning into open sores that last two weeks or more before they clear up.
‘Since using the balm and despite exposing myself to a lot of sun, going through a stressful period of lockdown, and working long hours, I have had no actual breakouts since I started using it,’ she said. ‘I have felt the tingle and a bump and then within 1-2 days it’s gone and it doesn’t blister.
‘This is unheard of for me and a first since my teens! I feel such a huge sense of relief.’
‘I use the balm continuously throughout the day and ensure I increase the application if I feel the starting signs of a cold sore. For me it’s a totally life-changing product.’