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Can Tomatoes Cause Cold Sores?

author image Meg Campbell
Based just outside Chicago, Meg Campbell has worked in the fitness industry since 1997. She’s been writing health-related articles since 2010, focusing primarily on diet and nutrition. Campbell divides her time between her hometown and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Can Tomatoes Cause Cold Sores?
Close-up of a tomato being sliced. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/>>/Getty Images

If you’ve ever had a cold sore, you’re not alone, as about 90 percent of Americans have been infected by herpes -- the virus that causes cold sores -- by adulthood, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. While eating tomatoes won’t trigger an outbreak of these painful, cluster-like blisters, avoiding the fruit can promote healing.

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Outbreak Triggers

Once you’ve contracted the herpes virus, it can lay dormant in your body for weeks, months or even years at a time. Cold sore outbreaks are usually associated with some kind of trigger, and common catalysts include chronic stress, illness or suppressed immunity, sun exposure and hormonal changes.

Acidic Foods

Most cold sores last for about 12 days, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. Around day four of an outbreak, the fluid-filled blisters usually rupture and leave behind a shallow, open sore. Eating tomatoes, or any other acidic food, can inflame the wound and delay healing. Salty foods are similarly aggravating.

Dietary Considerations

If you’re afflicted by frequent cold sores, you may want to examine your diet. Poor nutrition often leads to inefficient immune system function, which is a major trigger of outbreaks. Eating foods rich in lysine, which is an amino acid found in potatoes, legumes, fish, eggs, chicken and milk, may help lessen the severity of an outbreak.

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