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How to cope with a cold sore on your wedding day

Silk tulle wedding veil
Saying your vows and planting your first ‘married’ kiss…. Yup, gotta be said, your wedding is the worst day to be struck down by a cold sore. So what can you do if you worry that you’re on a one-way-trip to Cold Sore City?

Unfortunately, a cold sore (or herpes simplex HSV-1 to give it it’s proper name) can strike when you really don’t want it to. Triggers include tiredness, strong sunshine and stress. Even around-the-mouth aesthetic treatments like fillers and IPL have been blamed. Did someone say wedding day? It’s no wonder the dreaded tingling begins…

Someone I worked with years ago suffered really badly with cold sores. She maintained that she’d picked up the virus in her pram after her nan’s friend had leaned in to give her a kiss. Talk about the kiss of death!!! Before an exam, an interview, a first date… she could almost guarantee that a crusty confidence-killing blister would lurk on her lower lip.

It turns out that most cold sore sufferers are first infected during childhood. The virus pretty much lies dormant in the nerve roots but rears its ugly head (often in exactly the same place) when triggered. Unfortunately, if you’ve swerved them so far, the bad news is that they can still strike in adulthood. They’re highly contagious so er, be careful who you’re locking lips with before your Big Day eh?

But back to what can be done, well, you’re possible already a slave to your Zovirax pills. Containing acyclovir, popping one every day for seven days won’t blitz that blister immediately but will speed up the healing process and kill off some of the pain. Can’t wait around seven days for it to clear? Then book an appointment with your GP for a prescription oral antiviral drug. Some doctors will give you a dose to ward off an attack if you’re a frequent sufferer so it’s worth asking. You may get lucky with Superdrug’s online pharmacy- they’re listing  courses of acyclovir tablets available to order.

If you can’t get a prescription (I’m thinking tears and a bit of hysteria may be called for) then your best bet is a topical antiviral cream containing either docosanol (like Blistex) or penciclovir (like Fenistil.) Applying it every two hours as soon as the telltale tingling starts, should shrink the cold sore and speed up it’s disappearance. Unfortunately, starting to use it once the cold sore has shown it’s sore and ugly head will probably be ineffective. Making a little dent in your budget but worth it if it zaps away your ‘unwelcome wedding guest’ is Virulite Cold Sore Machine, £79.99. I don’t know anyone who has tried it but it sounds like a godsend. If you do know anything, please drop a comment below…

Seven other sore points to consider….

… or, in other words, how to minimise your risk of a pre-wedding cold sore
1. Don’t share lipstick! Be particularly careful if you’re testing a colour in store or having a make-up trial. Make sure your make-up artist uses clean brushes. Why don’t you take along one of your own and explain that your susceptible to cold sores.
2. If you know that stress triggers your cold sores, make sure you add lots of relaxing treats like massages and reflexology to the diary.
3. Because some dental treatments have been known to cause cold sores, book them in well before your Big Day
4. Don’t kiss anyone who gets a cold sore. Not even your H2B!
5. Start applying a dot of cold sore cream up to three times a day for up to a week before the wedding just to ensure one won’t appear. And don’t ever share cold sore cream with anyone.
6. It’s worthwhile upping your immune system via vitamin supplements. Cold sores thrive on a knocked immune system. Drink lots of water too to flush away toxins.
7. Getting married somewhere remote? If there’s no acyclovir-loaded cream around, manuka honey mixed in pure peppermint oil might work.

Fingers crossed, a cold sore won’t scupper your wedding day. If all has failed and what you’re looking at in the mirror is a bubbling blister in a white dress, try not to despair. There’s always make-up. And over your medicated cream, something like Dermablend SOS Stick, £15 promises to keep it camouflaged for up to 16 hours.

At the end of the (wedding) day, remember two things: there’s photo retouching and the fact that he’s just promised to love you in sickness and in health. And in cold sore…..

Have you any cold sore prevention and camouflage tips?

Sarah x 

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  • This summer has been hell in the cold sore dept. I had to go to a pharmacy in Greece and pay £36 for zovirax. Note to self: always take it with you!!!!

    4 years ago : Rom
  • Not exactly the “you may now kiss the bride”moment I’ve imagined since childhood….,,,

    4 years ago : Libby
  • Kiss. Of. Death……

    4 years ago : Geri
  • I suffer terribly with cold sores so it’s odds on I’ll get a whopper on my wedding eve. Tea tree is my weapon. It hurts but it works xx

    4 years ago : Darcey
  • I’ve literally felt the corner of my lip tickling this afternoon so googled and found this post. It sounds like I’m getting my first cold sore – SCREAM – and am heading to Boots on the way home armed with your suggestions. x

    4 years ago : Viv
  • This. would. be. the. worst.

    4 years ago : Jas
  • Biggest. Nightmare. Ever!!!!! Please god no!!!!!

    5 years ago : Dbaxter
  • Bras….. do you think it’s better to have cups sewn into the dress rather than wear a bra? My gown is strapless. I’ve tried it on with a gel filled bra but it felt heavy. My 32AA def needs something….

    5 years ago : Ruby
  • I went for my final dress fitting last week and am really disappointed at how my boobs look. My gown I didn’t think was particularly plunging but they said they reshaped it to me so that it fell in the style the dress was intended. I’m so unhappy. Far too much is on show (and jiggling about) for my liking. I’ll feel really self-conscious. I’m not too sure what to do now. I’m thinking that a square neck slip may be my best option. This happen to anyone else?
    Doree x

    5 years ago : DMinchin
  • I’m lacking in the boob department but actually, for the first time in my life, I’m totally stoked about it. Big boobs in plunging wedding dresses are a bit Geordie Shore for my liking but as a skinny girl with no pups, it looks really good. I knew God left me out of the boob department for a reason! x

    5 years ago : Daphne
  • Toothpaste! Hurts like hell but dries the sod up. Or tea tree but you’ve gotta bite a wooden spoon for that one! Cold sores are the worst – and you know you’ll get one when you don’t want them. Like a wedding day. Grrrrr…. Claire xx

    5 years ago : Claire
  • I would recommend a product called L-lysine. It seems to work on me anyway. I use it as preventative. So far wedding stress hasn’t struck (on my lip at least!!!!)

    5 years ago : Anon
  • I use the compeed plasters. They’re quite discreet and seem to work fine.

    Thanks for the make-up tips though. I really like the sound of the dermablend


    5 years ago : Marnie
  • Boots used to sell this amazing zapper but I’m distraught as i can’t find it anywhere now. eBay have a few which I may stockpile. Recently I’ve broken open a vitamin e capsule and applied the contents directly to the cold sore. absolutely disgusting if it gets in your mouth but I think it speeds up the drying/healing process. Great post – thanks, just what I need

    5 years ago : Jacks
  • That’s great advice about seeing a doctor before it strikes. I’d never thought of that but will definitely be booking an appointment. Otherwise I’ll get my money’s worth out of my veil – it won’t be coming off! xx

    5 years ago : Jacks
  • AAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHH! How much you wanna bet I’ll get a cold sore…. especially if they’re linked to stress. I feel one coming already. You know what, a few wrinkles or even the odd zit won’t bother me. But an ugly, unkissable coldsore. Everyone will avoid me like the plague. It’ll probably get a spot (pun intended) in the speeches. Thanks for your advice. If i do get struck, I’ll be well armed! But still crying…..x

    5 years ago : dommie
  • This is really helpful. My H2B gets cold sores and NEVER does anything about them except moan. I won’t be offering up any massage services but I will buy him the products you recommend. Thanks xx

    5 years ago : sian