How To Get Rid of Cold Sores Naturally
Cold sores, or sometimes-called fever blisters, are about as welcome on your face as an IRS audit. Not only are cold sores unsightly cosmetically but they can also be a nuisance and sometimes even very painful.
We’re sure you’re tired of being told that you have herpes on your face, but it’s important to understand that because cold sores are caused by the herpes virus they can be very stubborn to treat – and as of right now impossible to cure.
But don’t be discouraged because there isn’t yet a cure for cold sores, because treating these naturally can be just as effective as any prescription treatment.
#1 - Toss Your Toothbrush Now!
One of the biggest reasons your cold sore lasts so long is that people forget to get rid of their tooth at the first sign of the cold sore.
- Toss your toothbrush (duh!)
- If you have an expensive electric toothbrush head and don’t want to spend the extra money, soak the head of your toothbrush every night in hydrogen peroxide or alcohol until your cold sore is gone from your face
#2 - Sunscreen for Cold Sores
Once you get a cold sore, you become much more susceptible for an outbreak of them if you don’t take preventative care.
Covering up the fever blister with SPF sunscreen is a great way to prevent any further spreading.
- Apply a pea-sized dot of 30-45 SPF sunscreen directly to the cold sore when going outside
#3 - Zinc Oxide for Cold Sores
Zinc Oxide is the go-to for numerous home remedies, but most people don’t realize that research shows that cold sore symptoms such as itching, blistering, and soreness can be treated with zinc oxide as well.
Zinc Oxide works by almost creating a skin barrier between the cold sore and the outside world allowing your body to heal itself even faster.
- Apply a pea sized portion of zinc oxide throughout the day until as needed or until the cold sore closes completely
#4 - (Pure) Vanilla Extract for Cold Sores
Vanilla extract isn’t just for baking cookies anymore. Pure vanilla extract when applied topically is a home remedy for cold sores people seem to love.
Scientists don’t know why using vanilla works, but it’s thought that the natural astringent properties in vanilla creates and environment very difficult for a virus to survive.
- Add a few drops of vanilla extract to a small bowl
- Dip either a cotton swab or a cotton ball into the pure vanilla extract
- Apply topically and hold onto the area for at least 3-4 minutes
- Repeat 1-3 times a day until the cold sore subsides
#5 - Lemon Balm for Cold Sores
Despite its name, Lemon balm contains really no lemon. Lemon Balm is scientifically known as Melissa officinalis, and is actually a member of the mint family.
Applying lemon balm topically to your cold sore blister may help in reducing the healing time and even help prevent future outbreaks.
- Look for lip balm with lemon balm on the active ingredients
- For a more potent remedy make a lemon balm tea compress and apply topically as well
#6 - L-lysine for Cold Sores
L-lysine may sound familiar to you, as it is an amino acid (yes, one of the building blocks in our DNA). L-lysine is available in tablet and cream form from any pharmacy and most grocery stores.
Science says that applying L-lysine topically can help reduce the length of time your cold sore stays on your face, and taking L-lysine as a supplement can help prevent future cold sore flare-ups.
- Apply L-lysine topically if you already have a cold sore
- Take L-lysine according to the recommended daily value to prevent future cold sores from appearing
#7 - Licorice Root for Cold Sores
No not that nasty tasting candy (yes, it’s nasty!) from the grocery store, but real licorice root can help remedy your cold sore quickly.
Licorice can be taken orally as well as applied topically to treat your cold sore naturally because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Mix 1 Tablespoon of Licorice root powder and a teaspoon of filtered water
- Leave this mixture on your skin overnight
- Take the recommended DV of Licorice root until your cold sore subsides
#8 - Ice + Petroleum Jelly for Cold Sores
Ice really is the ultimate remedy for a ton of health and beauty ailments and cold sores are no different.
Ice is one of the most popular treatments it helps reduce the blistering pain associated with your cold sores. It should be noted that obviously the ice is going to make the appearance of the cold sore much more red, so do not apply but at morning and night if you’re self conscious about that.
- Apply ice directly to the cold sore and hold for several minutes
- Once the sore is completely numb apply a pea size of petroleum jelly
#9 - Rubbing Alcohol for Cold Sores
You can’t get any more natural than an ingredient off of the periodic table. Alcohol can be used for drying out the open cold sores and eliminating the spread of the herpes virus further.
- To prevent any cross contamination we recommend pouring alcohol in a bowl
- Drop a cotton swab or cotton ball and let it soak up the alcohol
- Apply directly to the cold sore until it completely stops singing
- Use a different bowl and cotton ball each time
#10 - Hydrogen peroxide for Cold Sores
Hydrogen peroxide is typically in most peoples medicine cabinets to treat small cuts and scrapes prior to bandaging, but most people don’t know that this household item can help reduce the size and severity of your cold sore.
- Pour approximately 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide into a bowl
- Let a cotton ball or cotton swab soak up the hydrogen peroxide
- Apply directly to the cold sore for 3-4 minutes
- If there is any burning, keep holding until burning subsides.
#11 - Aloe Vera for Cold Sores
Everyone knows that Aloe Vera is great home remedy for treating any skin irritation and cold sores really are no different. Applying aloe vera topically is less irritating as it creates a barrier between the cold sore and the outside world.
Typically we recommend going for the pure aloe vera plant and if you do have some aloe vera plant at your house it will work just fine. However for this remedy, we recommend buying packaged aloe vera that contains alcohol in the ingredients.
The alcohol added will not only help dry out the cold sore while the aloe soothes against its burning effects.
- Apply Aloe Vera topically to the cold sore
- Keep re-applying the aloe vera as it dries onto your cold sore throughout the day
#12 - Peppermint Oil for Cold Sores
Peppermint oil not only smells great, but also has natural properties that help prevent the spread of the cold sore causing virus beyond the infected area.
Consuming peppermint oil orally won’t do much in terms of treating the cold sore (although your breath will smell much better!) but sufferers have found that applying it topically at the very first sign of a cold sore reduced the healing time significantly.
- Mix ¼ cup of water and 4-5 drops of peppermint oil thoroughly
- Apply the mixture to a cotton swab and apply directly to your cold sore
- Letting it dry throughout the day, repeat the process 3-4 times per day
#13 - Vitamins for Cold Sores
You have to treat cold sores for exactly what they are, a virus. Unfortunately at this point in human evolution, we just don’t have a cure for them other than to throw natural vitamins at them.
At the first sign of a cold sore, it’s time to start dosing large amounts of vitamins (C & E) orally, as well as topically.
Studies have shown that vitamin E applied topically relieves the pain caused from the blistering of cold sores.
- Take 100% of your daily value of vitamins A and E until your cold sore is gone
- Apply vitamin e directly to your cold sore before going to bed at night
#14 - Witch Hazel for Cold Sores
Witch hazel leaves and bark have been used for at least 200 years for remedying a handful of ailments, mainly in the skincare category.
Fortunately for you acquiring witch hazel is as easy as swinging by the grocery store or local pharmacy and checking out.
- Soak a cotton ball in a tablespoon of witch hazel for a few minutes
- Once fully absorbed apply directly to the cold sore and hold for a few minutes
- Repeat 3-4 times per day as needed
#15 - Avoid Spicy Foods for Cold Sore Relief
This is a remedy that as a cold sore sufferer you would find out eventually, but if you’ve just developed a cold sore for the first time or need reminding avoid spicy and extra spicy foods at all cost.
The oil from the spices and the salt will irritate your blister and make it noticeably worse, undoing any of the home remedies we’ve laid out above.
- Avoid spicy foods such as peppers, hot sauce, curry
- Avoid salty foods like, pretzels, instant noodles, and salted mixed nuts
What Are Cold Sores?
Cold sores or Fever Blisters are essentially groups of small blisters that affect the lip and mouth area.
The skin around the cold sore blisters oftentimes becomes swollen and sore. If the blisters are opened either by you or by themselves, they may leak a clear fluid.
Blisters are caused by the herpes strain of virus and typically heal themselves in a few days to a couple weeks.
What Do Cold Sores Look Like?
Stages of Cold Sores
Typically cold sores will pass through several stages. You should be able to determine how much longer you have until it subsides based on these time frames.
- Day 1-3 Tingling and itching – You will start to feel a light tingling or burning sensation in a location around your lips for up to three days. If left untreated a small spot makes its way to the surface and the cold sore blister appears.
- Day 3-5 Blisters – The cold sore blister becomes filled with fluid and may continue to itch.
- Day 5-10 Oozing and Crusting – The cold sore blisters may become too full of fluid and burst leaving an open sore. Do your best not to pick at it allowing them to fully crust over and heal.
How to Prevent Cold Sores
Treating cold sores naturally is great, but preventing them from showing up in the first place is everyone’s goal. Here are some guidelines to help ensure that you don’t put yourself overly at risk of developing a cold sore again.
- Keep Your Immune System Healthy as cold sores can strike more often when you’re run down
- Stay out of the sun when possible. When you have to be outside apply strong sunscreen
- Eat Foods high in amino acid lysine. The herpes virus needs the arginine amino acid to develop and the lysine helps prevent that from getting into your bloodstream. Science!
Common Cold Sore Questions
Are Cold Sores and Canker Sores the same thing?
No – They are actually completely different. Cold sores are caused by a virus and develop on the outside of your mouth while canker sores are actually a type of ulcer that develops inside your mouth area.
Are Cold Sores Contagious?
Yes – Cold sores, which are Herpes Simplex Virus type 1, can be spread through direct contact such as kissing and touching and/or sharing things like drinking glasses and lip balm.
Can they Spread When there are no open cold sore blisters?
Yes – Cold sores can spread regardless of what stage they are in.
When Should You See the Doctor?
If you’ve tried several of the remedies above and your cold sore has lasted longer than 2 weeks with no signs of improvement, it may be time to go see a medical professional.
We understand how difficult it can be to develop a cold sore especially when you interact with people on a daily basis. But you should not feel bad or self conscious as millions of people are treating their cold sores just like you.
Follow the directions above for your favorite remedy and let us know how it worked for you!