A mother-of-two who blamed her cold sores for ruining her first honeymoon has praised a £7.95 balm for helping her enjoy her second.
Tracy McAndrew, 43, from Middleton in Leeds, first developed the Herpes virus after a battle with meningitis when she was younger – and at worst, would experience a breakout up to five times a month.
But when products and advice from her local doctors failed to help clear the painful sores, the former bereavement officer found an unlikely solution in a liquorice balm, which helped to clear her skin in just two days.
‘When I was a girl I got meningitis and almost died,’ said Tracy. ‘Although I recovered from my illness, I was left with one life-long legacy of my brush with death – cold sores.’
Tracy McAndrew, 43, from Leeds, first developed cold sores after a battle with meningitis when she was younger. Pictured, when she was a child
The former bereavement officer told how cold sores ruined her first honeymoon, but after finding an unlikely solution in a £7.95 balm, she was able to enjoy her second with second husband, Keith (pictured together on their wedding day)
When most people say they have cold sores they mean one or two a year, but for Tracy, it was four or five a month.
‘They would break out not only on my lips but all over my chin and up into my nose,’ she explained. ‘I even had them on the inside of my mouth and they would bleed.’
‘They were so bad that I was hospitalised a few times. The doctors had never seen such a bad case.’
‘They even thought at one point I may have leukemia and they tested me for it but found nothing.’
Tracy has praised the £7.95 balm for helping her cold sores to disappear
Tracy had courses of antibiotics when they became infected, and her mum ran through every single possible cold sore treatment offered or suggested by doctors or chemists, but nothing really worked.
‘Having a mouth full of sores obviously had a devastating effect on my confidence,’ she said.
‘I was badly bullied at school and girls would refuse to sit next to me as they said I was infectious. I would dread school photos and would cry when they made me sit for them.
As a teenager, Tracy didn’t ‘dare’ go near boys until she met her first husband when she was 16.
‘Our honeymoon was a disaster,’ she explained. ‘We went on a “dream come true” holiday to the Dominican Republic, but I broke out in a terrible crop of cold sores and spent my honeymoon mostly indoors with ice on my lips and unable to engage in much romantic activity.’
Tracy revealed that as a teenager she didn’t ‘dare’ go near boys until she met her first husband when she was 16. Pictured with her daughter
Tracy (pictured on her honeymoon) had given up on ever finding a cure for her cold sores when she saw a medical article in a magazine back in 2012
Tracy’s cold sores then went on to ruin every single summer holiday for the rest of her marriage.
What causes cold sores and what are they like?
Herpes viruses cause cold sores, which most commonly appear on the lips or genitals.
Around seven in 10 people in the UK are infected with the viruses.
However, only around one in three experience symptoms.
Cold sores on the lips most commonly get passed on by being kissed by someone with an active cold sore.
They begin as a small red patch that blisters before bursting, leaving a raw area that scabs.
Cold sores that appear on the face are most commonly caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus.
Type 2 mainly affects the genitals.
It is rare for cold sores to spread away from the site they first appeared in.
Cold sores can reappear if triggered by stress, illness, alcohol or too much sunlight.
This is because the virus stays in a nerve junction near the spinal cord.
Many feel an itch, tingle or shooting pain before a cold sore reappears.
Antiviral medication may be prescribed if someone frequently suffers from outbreaks.
Keeping sores moisturised can stop them cracking and becoming painful.
Source: Herpes Viruses Association
‘The sun and change in temperature are common triggers for me,’ she explained. ‘We went away once a year on a summer holiday and every year I’d have a face covered in sores.’
‘I’d spend my holiday in relative agony being unable to drink without a straw and having everyone staring at me and avoiding holiday photos at all costs.’
The doctors told Tracy that when she had children they may get bigger, but fortunately they didn’t.
‘In fact when I was pregnant I had them almost all the time, and when the kids were babies I had to spend a lot of time avoiding kissing them or getting too close when I had an outbreak so as not to infect them too,’ she explained.
In 2012, Tracy had more or less given up on ever finding a cure for her cold sores when by chance she saw a medical article in a magazine.
‘It was about a lady with cold sores almost as bad as mine who had tried a new cold sore treatment made from liquorice, which had been trialled by the Herpes Virus Association,’ she explained.
Tracy looked it up and soon found the treatment, Lip Q Liquorice Balm by Skin Shop, and ordered some – and has since described the results of “nothing short of a miracle.”
‘My confidence increased as my cold sore outbreaks started to decrease,’ she explained.
‘I’ve been more or less cold-sore free for about five years except for a few small outbreaks a year.’
Following a divorce from her first husband, Tracy remarried in September 2017 and this time, her wedding and honeymoon were not blighted by cold sores.
The mother-of-two remarried in September 2017 (pictured on her wedding day) and this time, her wedding and honeymoon were not blighted by cold sores
Since regularly applying the balm, Tracy said she has learned to walk with her head ‘held high’ and has helped to change the way she feels about herself. Pictured with second husband Keith and her children on their wedding day
‘We honeymooned in Spain and had an amazing time; it was everything you’d hope a honeymoon would be and not a single sore,’ she explained.
‘My second husband Keith also suffers with cold sores and did before we met, which meant he knew how debilitating cold sores could be, which has made our marriage easier.’
Since discovering the product, Tracy says she feels much more attractive and no longer has to avoid having her photo taken.
‘I used to walk along with my head bowed down so people couldn’t see my face,’ she explained. ‘I’ve learned to walk with my head held high, which makes such a difference to the way I look and how I feel about myself.’
‘I no longer live in fear of the next cold sore outbreak, which is very liberating and has changed my whole personality.’
Keith suffered with cold sores before he met Tracy, meaning he knew just how debilitating thye could be. Pictured together on their honeymoon
The mother-of-two told how she no longer lives in fear of the next cold sore outbreak. Pictured with second husband, Keith