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10 Home Remedies For Cold Sores


Referred to as fever blisters, cold sores refer to the sores that could develop on your lip or around the mouth.

These sores are blisters that are fluid-filled pockets located beneath the surface of your skin. They last for approximately 7 to 10 days and during this duration they might break open or even get crushed over.

Due to this, these 7 to 10 days can be brutal for you. Generally, cold sores or blisters are caused due to herpes simplex type one. virus.

This virus is also referred to as HSV 1 and according to the World Health Organization, 67% of adults all over the globe may test positive for this virus.

Though most people never get any symptoms when they suffer from this virus, some may even have recurring flare-ups.

One of the most common symptoms of the HSV 1 virus is cold sores. Initially, when you contract this virus, you could have some worst symptoms of sore throat, headache, fever, and aches and pains.

Unfortunately, it may not even leave your body after just the initial flare-up.

This means you could see certain flare-ups later on that could be triggered by surgery, fevers, hormonal fluctuations, stress, or even sun exposure.

The major reason behind this may be that the virus will remain dormant in your nerve cells. So if you have one of these blisters near your mouth, then there is no need to be embarrassed.

Instead, you can try out several home remedies which may help to abridge the pain caused by these ulcers or blisters.

Moreover, HSV is a commonly recurring viral infection and more than half of the Americans between ages of 14 and 49 carry this virus.

Let’s have a glance at the different medications, treatments, and home remedies that could help to reduce the lifespan of a cold sore.

List Of Home Remedies For Cold Sores

  1. Over-The-Counter Medications

    Before initiating to treat your cold sore, the best method could be to use over-the-counter antiviral medication or ointment.

    There are a plethora of products that contain benzyl alcohol or docosanol that could help to curtail[1] the duration of your cold sore.

    Besides this, the different medications may even help to keep your skin soft while your cold sore heals.

    Your health care provider may even suggest certain antiviral[2] medications because cold sores are caused by a virus.

    Some of these prescription drugs might include famciclovir, valacyclovir, acyclovir, and penciclovir.

    According to a study[3], you could use zinc oxide creams over your cold sores because these creams may help to truncate the time for which the infection is active.

    On the other hand, you should aim at keeping the cold sores clean. You may resort to hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol creams.

    Other than this, Docosanol or Acyclovir may help to curtail your recovery time. Ibuprofen can also truncate your inflammation and pain.

    You could even use gels like benzocaine, which could numb the sores. Another great over-the-counter medication is the cold sore patch which could protect your skin during the healing process.

    Usually, these patches contain some medication like Acyclovir to ameliorate your healing process[4].

    If you have a cold sore, then you may initiate your treatment within 24 hours of the first symptom. This symptom could be anything like a burning sensation or a tingling.

    Moreover, you might even make sure to carefully read the instructions on the product manual before using it.

    Sometimes laser devices or electronic light can be used in severe situations to speed up the recovery time.

  2. Essential Oils

    Essential oils are concentrated oils that contain plant compounds in them. Different studies have shown how a plethora of essential oils may help to treat cold sores.

    The major reason behind this could be that these oils might have inhibitory effects against the virus that causes these cold sores.

    Different essential oils like ginger essential oil, Rosemary essential oil, sandalwood, essential oil, tea tree oil, basil essential oil, thyme essential oil, peppermint oil, clove oil, etc. have shown antiviral effects against the herpes virus.

    Moreover, a 2001 study[5] showed how tea tree oil had antiviral effects against the herpes simplex virus.

    Though research is limited, you may try using Essential oils to shorten the duration of your cold sores. However, one important tip to remember here is that you need to dilute these oils before dabbing them on your skin.

    To dilute the essential oils, you could use a carrier oil and then gently apply the mixture to your old sore.

    However, it is very crucial to consult your healthcare professional before using any essential oil and be sure about the quality of the particular brand.

  3. Lemon Balm

    Also referred to as Melissa Officinalis, Lemon Balm has antiviral properties that could help to ameliorate the discoloration, swelling, and redness associated with your cold sore.

    Moreover, this easy homemade remedy could even help to evade any future infections.

    Lemon is a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that could bolster your immune system and support the wound healing process.

    Moreover, several pieces of research even show how vitamin C or diluted ascorbic acid, could help to stop the symptoms of cold sores.

    According to a study conducted in 2008[6], applying an extract of lemon balm may show an inhibitory effect against the HSV virus.

    However, large-scale studies are still needed to substantiate the accurate result of this herb from the Mint family on cold sores.

    If you wish to use this remedy, then all you have to do is take up a lip balm that has a minimum of 1% lemon balm.

    Or you could even use it in compressed form, which is concocted with the infusion of lemon balm in Tea.

  4. Aloe Vera Gel

    As you must have heard, aloe Vera gel has a plethora of health benefits and it can even grow as a houseplant.

    So if you are stressed from your cold sore and have an aloe Vera plant at home then what are you waiting for?

    You could use the gel of this plant to treat your cold sore. Though research is limited, it shows how the aloe Vera gel may help to combat the HSV virus.

    According to an in-vitro 2016 study[7], using the aloe vera gel on cold sores showed antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and inhibitory effects.

  5. Kanuka Honey

    Kanuka honey is the honey produced by the bees in New Zealand. This honey comes from the Manuka tree located in New Zealand and it could be an effective treatment for cold sores.

    Moreover, according to a recent study in the BMJ Open[8], the medical grade kanuka honey may be as effective as the topical medication that is used for the treatment of cold sores.

  6. Curtail Your Stress

    Curtailing your stress is another remedy to truncate the infection of the cold sore. The reason[9] behind this might be that stress can amplify the capability of the herpes virus to come out of its dormancy state.

    Due to this, you may always focus on reducing the stress in your life to prevent cold sores.

    Some of the best techniques for this could be to incorporate regular exercise and meditation into your daily regime.

    Additionally, you should also make sure to love yourself and understand that each individual has different experience levels.

    This may always help you to feel positive about yourself rather than stressing about your lower results.

  7. Ice

    Though ice in no way can curtail the duration of your cold sore, it could ease discomfort and alleviate the inflammation of the cold sores.

    So in case you are having amplified pain due to the cold sore, then all you have to do is apply an ice pack directly to the sore.

    Hence, this remedy could provide you with temporary relief from the discomfort and pain.

  8. Sunscreen

    As opposed to ice, sunscreen could truncate the risk of future flare-ups. At the same time, it may even protect[10] your cold sore as well as your lips from the detrimental UV rays of the sun when they are healing.

    So you should get sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and apply it on your lips and the cold sore whenever you are out in the sun.

  9. Propolis

    Just like honey, propolis is another product created by the bees that could have certain healing properties.

    Moreover, the antiviral effects of Propolis may even heal your cold sores. Research conducted in 2016[11] shows the efficiency of Propolis in truncating the duration of your cold sore and hence helping them to heal more quickly.

  10. Lysine

    Another remedy that might curtail the recurrence of cold sores is lysine. According to a review[12] conducted in 2017, the people who consumed lysine had a lesser recurrence of cold sores.

    You may get this essential amino acid either in the form of a cream or an oral supplement. However, before getting an oral supplement that has lysine in it, you should always consult your health care provider.

    The major reason behind this could be that some of the supplements might be contaminated with active pharmaceuticals and hence can be harmful to you.


Thus, these are some of the home remedies that you could follow to treat your cold sores. Out of the above recipes, some might help to alleviate the inflammation and pain of your cold sores.

Whereas the others may improve your recovery time and hence truncate the duration of the cold swords.

Besides these recipes, the only thing you need to make sure of during the healing process is to evade attempting to open the sore.

Moreover, you may not aggressively wash it or eat acidic food during the healing process.

Eating acidic foods like tomatoes or other citrus fruits could cause a burning sensation when they may come in contact with your cold sore.

Hopefully, this article has provided you with enough information related to the remedies that you could follow while you are distressed with your cold sore.


Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.

  1. LABEL: COLD SORE TREATMENT- docosanol cream Updated July 12, 2021 Available from: https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=15d1a6c5-4a61-48f3-b45e-a7e34cbeb294
  2. Cold sores Last reviewed: August 2020 Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/cold-sores
  3. H R Godfrey, N J Godfrey, J C Godfrey, et al. A randomized clinical trial on the treatment of oral herpes with topical zinc oxide/glycine Altern Ther Health Med. 2001 May-Jun;7(3):49-56. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11347285/
  4. T Karlsmark, J J Goodman, Y Drouault, et al. Randomized clinical study comparing Compeed cold sore patch to acyclovir cream 5% in the treatment of herpes simplex labialis J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Nov;22(10):1184-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2008.02761.x. Epub 2008 May 6. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18462303/
  5. P Schnitzler, K Schön, J Reichling Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture Pharmazie. 2001 Apr;56(4):343-7. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11338678/
  6. G Mazzanti, L Battinelli, C Pompeo, et al. Inhibitory activity of Melissa officinalis L. extract on Herpes simplex virus type 2 replication Nat Prod Res. 2008;22(16):1433-40. doi: 10.1080/14786410802075939. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19023806/
  7. Fahimeh Rezazadeh, Maryam Moshaverinia, Mohammad Motamedifar, et al. Assessment of Anti HSV-1 Activity of Aloe Vera Gel Extract: an In Vitro Study J Dent (Shiraz). 2016 Mar; 17(1): 49–54.
  8. Alex Semprini, Joseph Singer, Irene Braithwaite, et al. Kanuka honey versus aciclovir for the topical treatment of herpes simplex labialis: a randomised controlled trial BMJ Open. 2019 May 14;9(5):e026201. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026201. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31092654/
  9. Cold sores: Overview Created: July 12, 2018 Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525782/
  10. Can cold sores be prevented? Created: July 12, 2018 Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK525765/
  11. Ayse Yildirim, Gulay Gulbol Duran, Nizami Duran, et al. Antiviral Activity of Hatay Propolis Against Replication of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and Type 2 Med Sci Monit. 2016; 22: 422–430.Published online 2016 Feb 9. doi: 10.12659/MSM.897282
  12. Venthan J. Mailoo and Sanketh Rampes Lysine for Herpes Simplex Prophylaxis: A Review of the Evidence Integr Med (Encinitas). 2017 Jun; 16(3): 42–46.

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