It's winter, which means it's also the season for colds, the flu and stress, all of which can trigger fever blister and cold sore outbreaks, which may make many people feel embarrassed. The reality is that this mild affliction is very prevalent. Fifty percent of people will experience cold sores by the time they are 20 years old. Moreover, eight out of 10 people carry the (HSV-1) virus that causes the sores, so people that have fever blisters aren't alone.

The Herpes Simplex Virus lives deep within nerve tissue. While "dormant," the virus does not replicate, but when the virus becomes active it starts producing symptoms like a tingling or burning sensation around the affected area that lets one know a cold sore is on the way. Unfortunately, fever blisters can be painful, itchy and unattractive. While there is no cure for them there are ways to manage symptoms.

Suffering from cold sores? Consider these tips from Carmex, makers of lip balms and Carmex Cold Sore Treatment and Dr. Neil Sadick, M.D. a New York City-based dermatologist.

During the duration of a cold sore outbreak, avoid foods and beverages that contain acid, such as citrus fruits, red wine, coffee and tomatoes.

"The acid in these foods could irritate the skin, slowing the healing process and increasing pain," says Dr. Sadick.

Keep the cold sore moist. Apply a cool, clean, wet towel directly to the cold sore for about five to 10 minutes a few times each day to help reduce redness and irritation.

"You will also want to apply a cold sore treatment under your lipstick or concealer to prevent the cold sore from becoming dry and cracked," recommends Dr. Sadick.

Use a topical treatment, such as Carmex Cold Sore Treatment at the first sign of an outbreak. It works on contact to block pain and itch with 10% Benzocaine, while also minimizing the appearance of a sore.

Be patient. Even if properly treated, you will need to have patience and let the cold sore run its course. A cold sore outbreak can often last from seven to 10 days, so during this time, avoid squeezing, touching or picking at a sore, as this will only delay healing.

If symptoms do not improve, or you develop a fever, rash or swelling, it's time to consult your physician.

While cold sores are not preventable, living a healthy lifestyle, reducing stress and using a cold sore treatment in combination with a lip balm containing SPF can help to reduce your risk of outbreaks. --StatePoint