Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Cold Sore sufferers - you need this

A colleague of mine flew in from the States this week. She brought along a pretty nifty cold that she'd picked up on the plane (you know those international jet-setting colds that pack a real global punch). Spotting my immune system for a soft touch, it quickly made me its home and I spent this weekend lying wretched in a pile of snotty tissues.

To add insult to injury, I also developed a merry garland of bright red cold sores across my upper lip. If you suffer with cold sores yourself, you'll know that they love to strike when the immune system is compromised (they spend the rest of the time skulking around in nerve endings around the mouth, waiting for a good moment to strike).

Until earlier this year, my response to this would have been to reach for the Zovirax and pray, probably to little effect. However, since then I've discovered a device that has changed my attitude to cold sores entirely. I wasn't phased. I just reached for my Boots Cold Sore Machine.

The machine (which I believe is a Boots-branded version of Virulite) is a  humble-looking white plastic device. It has an "on" button (1), a flashing indicator light (2) a recessed mouthpiece with a bulb (3), and a compartment for a battery. That's pretty much it. The secret lies in the wavelength of light (1072 nm, to be exact) produced by the bulb. It's an infra-red light, invisible to the naked eye, that cuts healing time by as much as 50%. It's thought to work by triggering an increased immune response when shone onto the afflicted skin.

Using it could not be simpler. You place the device against the skin, allowing no gaps for light to enter, and press the "on" button. Then hold still for 3 minutes while the indicator light flashes and the machine does its work. After that, you're done - two treatments twelve hours apart should be enough to send a cold sore packing.

It might sound a little too good to be true, but light-based treatments of this type have been proven effective in clinical trials (that's tests on real live people) published in various peer-reviewed scientific journals (like this one). Versus aciclovir (the active ingredient in creams like Zovirax), Virulite improved healing time by an average of 4 days. Seriously, that's pretty good.

I'm recovering from my cold now (day 3 - sneezing phase over) and of the three cold sores that made a bid for self-expression on my top lip, two have retreated to the point of invisibility, and the one I didn't catch quite as quickly has moved on to the dry scabby stage. (Did you think beauty blogs were all about prettiness and nice things? Yes? Tough.)

If you suffer from cold sores, I can't recommend this treatment to you more highly. It's perhaps more a health than a beauty purchase (although let's be honest, having a big red blistery mess on your lip isn't exactly attractive) but it's well worth the £35 asking price, especially when you consider how much you'll save on other treatments.


  1. Thanks for this, obviously not the most glamorous review but for someone who gets run down all the time this sounds like a godsend. Perhaps I should be skulking around the medicine aisles of Boots more often to find out about such advancements in technology! x

  2. This sounds great. Do you feel the difference immediatley?


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