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Does smoking Cigarettes or Vaping E-Cigs cause Cold Sores?

Smoking or vaping is a personal choice that has the potential to make cold sores worse or increase the number of outbreaks. The overall health risks associated with smoking and vaping is why it should be considered a cold sore trigger.

Does smoking cause cold sores and fever blisters?

How does smoking flare up and/or worsen cold sores?

The health effects smoking has on your body may be the reason a cold sore appears. The herpes simplex virus (HSV) usually resides in the dormant state but smoking or vaping can activate it rather quickly because of the following effects:

  • Immune System. Smoking or vaping damages and destroys antibodies in the blood stream. Antibodies normally help fight off infectious illnesses, but since smokers have fewer of these antibodies available, they may experience more severe infections and prolong the cold sore healing process.
  • Stress. Smoking or vaping does not actually relieve stress. In fact, it may even cause more tension and anxiety.
  • Blood Circulation. Smoking or vaping increases blood pressure, heart rate, blood thickness and narrows arteries. This could cause cracks and openings to appear on your lips making you vulnerable for an outbreak.

Can I smoke with someone who has a cold sore?

Sharing a smoke or vape with anyone can put yourself at risk of developing a cold sore. Cold sores are most contagious when fluid seeps out of the sore. If you see someone with an open fever blister, you should avoid contact with the person until the area has completely healed. Even during the scabbing process a cold sore can still be contagious. Splitting a cigarette or e-cig with an infected person is as risky as sharing a toothbrush, lipstick, food or utensil. Unfortunately, unless the person experiencing the symptoms recognize what they are, they may not even know they’re contagious.

Is smokeless tobacco, e-cigarettes or vaping as harmful?

Anything that can potentially affect the lips or mouth in a negative way can lead to a cold sore. Smokeless tobacco requires you to put tobacco in your mouth under your lip(s). The placement of the chewing tobacco stretches the skin of the lip(s) which can cause cracking or manipulation making you more vulnerable to develop a cold sore. Smokeless tobacco also requires you to spit frequently and the tobacco juices can compromise effective healing.

The possibility of developing a cold sore from an e-cigarette or vaporizer is no different than traditional cigarette smoking. E-cigs and vaping provide the absence of smoke but they don’t eliminate the intake of toxins that can potentially create a flare up or worsen your cold sore.

Example of smoke from an e-cig or e-liquid

What if the e-cigarette or e-liquid does not include Nicotine?

If you use zero nicotine e-liquid when vaping you’re still putting yourself at risk of developing a cold sore. The presence of nicotine is often worse than no nicotine however vaping still involves many cold sore triggers. The biggest issue related to fever blisters with non-nicotine vaping is the overall heat an e-cig requires. Most e-cigarettes are plastic or metal and become warm or hot during continued use. Constant heat or temperature change applied to your lips can reduce their overall health and open the door for a developing cold sore.

Could quitting smoking trigger a cold sore?

When you stop smoking or vaping, you run the risk of developing cold sores even stronger. After quitting for some time cold sores generally develop in 1-2 weeks. Smoking overall can change the antibacterial properties in your mouth and over time your body becomes used to those properties. When you smoke your saliva has to work overtime to produce antibodies to protect your mouth. Therefore, when you quit you may shock your mouth by the lack of antibodies produced by saliva.