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Sun exposure clarification?

So I have fairly regular cold sore outbreaks on my lower lip (3-4x per year). I am on a daily antiviral treatment and my outbreaks went dormant for a year and a half and recently was five months between them. I have learned that sunburn / UV is a trigger for my outbreaks.

My question is, if I prevent UV exposure to my lips where the outbreaks occur is that enough to theoretically thwart the onset of outbreaks or is the research behind HSV and sun exposure any sort of sunburn anywhere?

Anyone have clarification? Thanks!
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207091 tn?1337709493
COMMUNITY LEADER
Yes, that can help, though the only way to know for you is to try it. While sun is a pretty big trigger for a lot of people with hsv1 orally, for some, it can be general sun exposure, and others it's just sun on their lips.

Since sunburn is a trigger for you, it would seem that general sun exposure is more the trigger, unless you just got the sunburn on your lips or face. You should use sunscreen while you are out in the sun (always a good idea anyway), or maybe a hat with a brim large enough to protect your face. Definitely get some lip balm with sunscreen in it.

What antiviral are you on? You might try upping the dose if you know you're going to be out in the sun. If you take 500 mg of Valtrex, for example, try taking 1000 mg the day before, the day of, and the day after.

I hope that helps!
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Avatar universal
Always very helpful, thank you!

It’s hard to avoid the sun living in the Deep South, but I always try to avoid overexposure to the sun.

I’m on 500mg/day of Famciclovir. I wondered if switching to Valacyclovir would be helpful, as well as upping to 1000mg/day.

I started on 250 acyclovir and was having less sever breakouts but same frequency. Then changed to famvir 500mg/day and didn’t have an outbreak for 18 months. But when I did, it was more severe. And last was 5 months between outbreaks, again more severe but I haven’t been on the end that long I guess.  I’d like a virologist opinion.
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250 acyclovir probably isn't high enough. There aren't the same studies on oral herpes as there are for genital herpes, but 250 probably isn't enough. The suppressive dose for acyclovir for genital herpes is 400 mg 2x a day.

Talk to your doctor. The only real difference is convenience. You might do fine on 500 mg of Valtrex, which now has a generic and is a lot cheaper, and is once a day. You can even do 500 mg twice a day, or 1000 mg once a day.

Acyclovir is always 400 mg twice a day for suppression. Older dosing used to be 250 spread out several times a day, but they don't do that anymore. For treating an outbreak, 400 mg three times a day for 5 days or 800 mg three times a day for two days.

Famvir should be taken as 250 mg twice a day, not as 500 mg once a day. It works a lot better spread out.

It's hard to say if the severity had anything to do with the meds, or the triggers. Have you figured out your prodrome? These are signs that you are about to get a cold sore. It might be tingling, itching, aching, or something similar. If you can figure that out, and up your meds to the treatment dose when you feel that, you may be able to prevent the cold sore.

You can read more about meds in the Herpes Handbook - https://westoverheights.com/herpes/the-updated-herpes-handbook/ - it won't all apply to you, but the doses are the same. It's on page 18. (It's free to download and read, and written by one of the world's leading experts on herpes.)


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