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There are plenty of triggers that can lead to a cold sore outbreak, and one of them is stress. Being stressed out can affect your emotions and behaviors, but it can also take a toll on your immune system. And that can give a dormant cold sore the opportunity to rise to the occasion—sneaky, isn’t it?

Stress vs the Immune System

When you’re stressed, your body’s defense system becomes weakened. When that happens, your natural resistance to bacteria and viruses drops a notch or two, which can awaken the dormant cold sore virus, triggering an outbreak.

Here’s Why

The immune system produces white blood cells called T cells, also known as T lymphocytes,1 that help protect the body from infection.

When you’re stressed out, the body’s cortisol levels go up. (Cortisol is a hormone that’s released during the body’s fight-or-flight response.) Higher levels of cortisol disrupt your immune system’s ability to ward off invaders, like the cold sore virus. So, your trusty T cells can’t fully contain the cold sore virus like they normally do, leaving you vulnerable to a cold sore. Which is why, when you’re under a lot of pressure and feeling stressed out, it can often lead to an outbreak.

Stay Stress Free

Tell stress to take a hike! Here’s a look at some relaxation techniques that can help keep your stress levels under control, and the cold sore tingle at bay.

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