Topical lysine is used to treat, relieve and prevent recurrence of some forms of herpes. Specifically, topical lysine used on the skin can help reduce the severity and life spans of cold sores. Cats can fall victim to cold sores if they are suffering from feline herpesvirus.
Lysine is one of the components of proteins called amino acids. In the body, lysine performs several important functions including maintaining skin and tissue integrity, and building collagen. In addition to its presence in protein-rich foods, pills and other edible versions, lysine is available as a topical treatment in the form of cream, ointment, paste or gel. According to WebMD, lysine in both ingestible and topical applications may help prevent and treat some forms of herpes.
Symptoms and Research
It's possible topical lysine can help cats suffering with the feline version of herpes, known as feline herpesvirus 1, or FHV-1. The herpesvirus can cause many symptoms, including conjunctivitis and other eye infections. Cold sores are also form of herpes, and cats can fall victim to those, too. A study presented at a SCRIPPS medical conference in 2004 showed participants who used topical lysine experienced a four-day healing time for cold sores, vs. 10 to 14 days without treatment.
Using Topical Lysine
Since topical lysine is designed for external use only, it shouldn't be applied directly into a cat's eyes. For humans, suggested dosages advise applying skin cream every two hours, for up to 11 days. Most packages also instruct dosage levels and duration. There is no cure for FHV-1; once contracted, the virus lingers in a cat's body. Topical lysine can help cats already affected, but the best approach is prevention, including vaccination and at-home lifestyle protocols.
Prevention First, Lysine as Needed
The virus is reactivated by stress, poor nutrition and unsanitary conditions. Providing your cat with clean bedding, quiet spaces, hiding spots and a low-stress environment can help reduce the recurrence of the virus. If he does experience a flareup, apply the topical lysine as instructed. Eye infections can be painful, so if your cat has contracted one or exhibits other symptoms like a respiratory infection, vet treatment is needed to help him recover and feel better.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.