In this article, I’m going to blow your mind with a superabundance of highly-effective cold sore remedies, most of which you don’t even need a prescription for (because they come from the earth!)
I’m SUPER EXCITED to share these cold sore remedies with you!
I used to get recurring cold sores for a couple of decades of my life. During several of those years, I would even get as many as 4-6 cold sores in a single year. And since each cold sore would take about two weeks before it was completely healed, this means that 2-3 months out of the year I would have a cold sore on my lip!
It was awful.
But fortunately, I’ve now been cold-sore-free for over four years. To help others achieve a cold-sore-free life, I created this comprehensive website, and I publish new articles on cold sore treatment and prevention on a regular basis.
I gotta tell ya…I’m pumped to be writing this article on cold sore remedies right now. The things you’re going to learn about cold sore remedies are going to change your life for the better…guaranteed.
Here’s a brief overview on the types of cold sore remedies that I’m reviewing:
- Home Remedies for Cold Sores
- Natural Remedies for Cold Sores
- Herbal Remedies for Cold Sores
- Prescription Medications for Cold Sores
- Over-the-Counter Medications for Cold Sores
- Topical Cold Sore Remedies
- Oral Cold Sore Remedies
- Expensive Cold Sore Remedies
- Inexpensive Cold Sore Remedies
So now, without further ado, let’s move forward, and begin learning about all of the miraculous cold sore remedies that science and nature have provided.
But before I do that…let’s first discuss the nature of cold sores…
Cold Sore Remedies – HSV Overview
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are groups of small blisters that form on or near the lips. Cold sores are a result of something called herpes simplex virus (HSV).
There are two types of HSV, and both can cause cold sores. HSV-1 typically is responsible for cold sores, and HSV-2 is most often the cause of genital herpes.
However, both types of HSV can cause cold sores or genital herpes.
After primary infection, the virus resides in the associated dorsal root ganglion where it lies dormant until an external stimuli (such as stress or immunosuppression) initiate reactivation of the virus from dormancy.
The virus lives on forever, and that’s why people continue to get cold sores over and over again.
Cold Sore Remedies – Overview
When I first started this blog, I knew about six or seven different cold sore remedies. One cold sore remedy was a prescription cream, a few were over-the-counter topical cold sore ointments, and the rest were natural home remedies for cold sores.
It’s been a little over one year since I started this blog, and now I know about dozens of effective cold sore remedies.
I love researching the science behind these cold sore remedies, and I also love and appreciate the variety of forms these cold sore remedies come in, the main ones being prescription medications, over-the-counter cream and ointments, and natural remedies.
Now it’s time to start educating you on the Top Cold Sore Remedies THAT WORK, and we’ll begin by reviewing prescription medication cold sore remedies.
Cold Sore Remedies: Prescription Medications
Some of the most powerful cold sore remedies are prescription medications. Some prescription cold sore remedies are taken orally, and some are topical ointments. Yet while prescription cold sore remedies can work quite well, you do have to go see your doctor to get a prescription, then you need to pick it up at a pharmacy.
Furthermore, prescription cold sore remedies often come with a variety of unpleasant side effects, and you never know how you’re going to respond to a particular cold sore medication until you try it.
Nevertheless, these cold sore remedies do work quite well for most people, and under the supervision of a doctor, I know they can be very beneficial.
1. Valacyclovir – One of the most popular oral cold sore remedies, valacyclovir, sold under the trade name Valtrex, is an antiviral drug that is most commonly used to treat infections by the herpes viruses that cause cold sores, genital herpes, and shingles. Valacyclovir works by stopping the herpes virus from multiplying. When the virus can’t multiply, the magnitude of severity of the herpes infection is lessened, so one typically has a smaller cold sore which heals faster than usual.
2. Acyclovir – This is a highly-effective cold sore remedy that my dermatologist prescribed me almost 20 years ago. It helped to heal my cold sore extremely fast. Acyclovir, sold under the brand name Zorivax Cream, is a synthetic nucleoside analogue active against herpes viruses. Acyclovir Cream 5% is a formulation for topical administration. Acyclovir works by inhibiting and inactivating HSV.
3. Famciclovir – This is one of the cold sore remedies that I’ve never used, though it’s very effective. Famciclovir, sold under the trade name Famvir, is an antiviral drug that can treat HSV. Famciclovir decreases the severity and length of cold sore outbreaks. It helps the sores heal faster, keeps new sores from forming, and decreases pain/itching. This medication is taken orally, and may also help reduce how long pain remains after the sores heal.
Cold Sore Remedies: Over-the-Counter Creams and Ointments
Back when I used to get frequent cold sores, God knows I tried a ton of different over-the-counter cold sore remedies. The great thing about over-the-counter cold sore remedies is that you don’t need a prescription, most of them are inexpensive, and most of them help to reduce pain and speed healing time.
While there are literally dozens of over-the-counter cold sore remedies, the ones I’ve chosen to review in this article are the most popular and either has studies backing their effectiveness, or they have the best Amazon reviews, which is good evidence as to their efficacy.
4. Abreva Cream – Abreva is the only over-the-counter cold sore remedy approved by the FDA to shorten the healing time of cold sores. The active ingredient is docosanol 10% cream. Docosanol is used for the topical treatment of recurrent cold sores. Docosanol works by inhibiting fusion between the human cell plasma membrane and the herpes simplex envelope, thus preventing viral entry into cells and subsequent viral replication.
5. Orajel Single Dose – This is one of the over-the-counter cold sore remedies that I never tried back when I used to get cold sores. Orajel Single Dose is an innovative cold sore remedy that relieves pain instantly. The main ingredient, benzalkonium chloride, is very helpful for healing cold sores fast.
Orajel Single Dose, unlike most topical cold sore remedies, only needs to be applied once a day. It has a Touch-Free Applicator that helps clean the site of the cold sore and the affected area.
6. Compeed Cold Sore Patch – This is one of the most interesting cold remedies because along with treating a cold sore, it also conceals the blister. Compeed Cold Sore Treatment Invisible Patches work by sealing any ruptured blisters.
The patches effectively prevent the spread of the virus, providing healing benefits at each stage of the cold sore outbreak. This is a discreet and effective way to treat cold sores. The patch instantly soothes itching and burning sensations at the affected area. The product prevents scab formation for noticeably faster healing.
7. Super Lysine Plus – Manufactured by Quantum Health, this soothing cream is a product containing lysine and other natural cold sore remedies ingredients used in the treatment of cold sores. Lysine is an amino acid that has been shown in numerous studies to help prevent cold sore outbreaks (more about this in the section on Supplements For Cold Sores).
In a study, Super Lysine Plus was shown to have positive results in the treatment of cold sores. Back when I used to get cold sores, this was one of the topical creams I tried, and it worked pretty well.
On the package, it says the product is “clinically shown to cut healing time in half.” They can legally state this due to the outcome of the study I referred to above.
8. Herpecin L – One of the most popular cold sore remedies, Herpecin L is pharmacist-recommended for the treatment, protection, and relief of cold sores.
Herpecin L can be used daily to help nourish, protect, and relieve painful cracking of lips. Additionally, Herpecin L promotes healing without numbing or drying (as some products do).
The Herpecin L formulation contains dimethicone for protection, and sunscreens to help guard against the sun’s harmful rays. UV radiation is one of the top cold sore triggers.
Herpecin L Active Ingredients include:
- Dimethicone 1% – Skin Protectant
- Meradimate 5% – Sunscreen
- Octinoxate 7.5% – Sunscreen
- Octisalate 5% – Sunscreen
Note: The inactive ingredient called melissa officinalis leaf extract is actually one of the best natural remedies for cold sore prevention and treatment. More commonly known as lemon balm, this plant is very popular for cold sores, and my belief is that this ingredient is why Herpcin L works for so many people (more info on lemon balm in the section on Natural Remedies For Cold Sores).
9. Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment – If you’re shopping for cold sore remedies at the store, you may see Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment on the shelf. This product helps to provide relief from the pain, itching, and discomfort of cold sores.
Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment has also been clinically shown to increase lip moisture, help heal dry, chapped lips, and improve overall lip condition.
Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment contains the following active ingredients:
- Camphor – External analgesic
- Dimethicone – Lip protectant
- Menthol – External analgesic
- Phenol – External analgesic
10. Campho-Phenique Cold Sore Treatment – Campho Phenique Cold Sore Treatment is an over-the-counter, medicated gel that is applied topically to relieve the pain and itch of cold sores. This cold sore remedy contains the active ingredients camphor and phenol.
Camphor is readily absorbed through the skin, producing either a coolness or warmth sensation and acts as a slight local anesthetic and antimicrobial substance. Phenol is also used as an oral anesthetic/analgesic.
According to Campho.com, Campho Phenique Cold Sore Treatment dries the cold sore and relieves pain on contact.
Use this product in the early phase of a cold sore before the scab forms to:
- Dry the cold sore without causing cracking
- Help prevent infections to promote healing
- Relieve the cold sore pain with a maximum strength pain reliever
Natural Remedies For Cold Sores
11. Lemon Balm – This is at the very top of my list of favorite herbal remedies for cold sores. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is a perennial herbaceous plant that belongs to the mint family. To understand why using this herbal cold sore remedy works, it’s important to learn about the plant’s mechanisms of action.
Lemon balm contains the following active plant substances:
- Terpenes – Relaxing and antiviral effects
- Tannins – Antiviral effects
- Eugenol – Calms muscle spasms, numbs tissues, and kills bacteria
- Rosmarinic and Caffeic Acid – Antioxidant and immune-modulating
Using lemon balm as an herbal cold sore remedy works on two different fronts. It can be taken daily or during times of stress or low immunity to help prevent cold sores, as it can relax the nervous system and boost the immune system.
You can also use this natural cold sore remedy once you have an outbreak, as lemon balm can reduce redness and swelling, and even reduce the healing time.
12. Tea Tree Oil – Here is yet another of the most popular cold sore remedies in the herbal/natural realm. Tea tree oil has been documented in numerous medical studies to kill many strains of bacteria, viruses, and fungi, making it a good choice for killing the herpes simplex virus. Using tea tree oil for cold sores eases the pain and discomfort. It also helps to diminish the appearance of cold sores.
Here are the benefits of using tea tree oil as an herbal/natural remedy for cold sores:
Being one of the top herbal cold sore remedies, tea tree oil works well because it fights the herpes simplex virus, it dries out the skin which speeds up healing time, it reduces pain and swelling from the cold sore, and it can help the cold sore diminish in size and heal faster.
13. Aloe Vera – Aloe vera is a succulent plant that contains a healing green gel inside the leaves. Aloe vera has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes, dating back to ancient Egypt. The plant is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands. Today, aloe vera is grown in tropical climates worldwide.
Growing up as a surfer in Southern California, I often used aloe vera for sunburns.
Along with treating burns, aloe vera also has a multitude of other skin benefits, which includes helping treat cold sores.
Aloe vera contains the following nutrients that make it one of the top natural cold sore remedies:
- Fatty Acids
- Amino Acids
Using aloe vera as a natural cold sore remedy leads to the following benefits:
- Accelerates healing
- Reduces pain
14. Honey – Why does honey help with cold sores? Good question. The reason so many people enjoy using honey for cold sores is due to this natural cold sore remedy’s ability to heal the cold sore faster.
Using honey as a natural cold sore remedy helps because honey has the following benefits:
Honey contains abundant levels of sugar in the form of fructose and glucose. This elevated sugar concentration makes it very hard for fungi and bacteria to survive.
Ultimately, this can lead to a shortened healing time of cold sores due to the immune system not having to defend against the fungi and bacteria, which enables the immune system to use more of its vital resources to kill the herpes simplex virus.
Home Remedies For Cold Sores
15. Ice Cube – Besides pain relief and reduction of swelling, people use ice cubes as home remedies for cold sores because the herpes virus requires a moist, warm environment to grow.
If you use ice therapy at the first sign of a cold sore, this could lead to:
- Greatly reducing and/or delaying the cold sore
- Preventing a cold sore altogether
Delaying a cold sore is basically just postponing the inevitable, but if you have a hot date or an important event, this trick is a true lifesaver.
Reducing the size and duration of the cold sore is also a great benefit, but preventing the cold sore from ever appearing is nothing short of a miracle, and I’ve experienced this miracle a few times. Can I get an amen for ice as one of the top home remedies for cold sores?!
16. Hydrogen Peroxide – Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a mild antiseptic used on the skin to prevent infection of minor cuts, scrapes, and burns. Hydrogen peroxide works by releasing oxygen when it is applied to the affected area. The release of oxygen causes foaming, which helps to remove dead skin and clean the area.
Along with being helpful for minor cuts, scrapes, and burns, you can also use hydrogen peroxide as one of the best home remedies for cold sores to activate some powerful healing properties.
Here is a list of the main benefits you get from using hydrogen peroxide as a home remedy for cold sores:
- Antiseptic/Antibacterial – It kills and prevents the growth of disease-causing microorganisms and bacteria on a cold sore.
- Antiviral – It weakens the molecular framework of the virus by discharging oxygen atoms. Herpes simplex needs an anaerobic environment to replicate, and it cannot survive in an oxygen-rich environment.
- Anti-inflammatory – It reduces inflammation and dries out the infected area to heal sores. The herpes simplex virus needs a moist environment to replicate, so drying out the cold sore is a common treatment approach.
- Anti-scarring – It has skin-bleaching properties, so it can help to lighten cold sore scars.
17. Toothpaste – After reading many online testimonials of people using toothpaste on cold sores, as well as articles written by doctors, I now have a detailed overview of this subject matter.
Here are the key concepts:
- Some bloggers claim the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) found in many popular kinds of toothpaste can treat cold sores.
- Some doctors claim SLS actually can cause cold sores and canker sores.
- Some online testimonials recommend the use of “white toothpaste” instead of the gels (to help dry out the cold sore).
- For the “toothpaste on cold sore” trick to really work, it’s very beneficial to use at the first sign of a cold sore (tingle, itch, burn).
Basically, you just dab toothpaste on the cold sore and leave it on overnight to dry out the cold sore. Now is the perfect place to mention my experience with toothpaste and cold sore outbreaks. Back when I used to get cold sores on a regular basis (every couple of months), I noticed a pattern.
It seemed like my toothpaste could be causing some cold sore outbreaks. It was a regular brand with SLS in it. SLS is a detergent found in many soaps, shampoos, and kinds of toothpaste. Once I switched to a natural toothpaste that didn’t contain SLS, I had less cold sore outbreaks.
18. Salt – You may enjoy salt on certain types of food, and now you can also enjoy the benefits of using salt as one of the most helpful home remedies for cold sores!
How does salt help?
Salt benefits cold sores in the following ways:
- Acts as an antiseptic
- Draws out moisture and fluid, allowing the cold sore to dry out
Both sea salt and table salt can be used for the Salt on Cold Sore Method. While the antiseptic ability of salt helps prevent bacteria from growing, the best benefit is salt’s “drying out” property. Lots of people swear by this home remedy for cold sores.
Cold Sore Remedies: Supplements
19. Immune Support – When it comes to preventing cold sores with supplements, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND taking Immune Support, which is an organic formula that was scientifically engineered to boost your immune system and prevent the herpes simplex virus from “waking up” and causing a cold sore outbreak.
I’ve had so many people email me to say that Immune Support has been helping them to either totally prevent cold sores, or significantly reduce the frequency of outbreaks. It’s very inexpensive ($24 for a 30-day supply) and simple to use.
Here are just a few of the Immune Support benefits:
- Supports a Healthy Immune System
- Provides Antioxidant Support
- Supports the Body’s Immune Response
- Fully Organic, All Natural, Vegetarian Formula, NO Magnesium Stearate
- Contains Organic Herbal Powders and Active Vitamins
- Creates an Optimal Internal Environment to Suppress Cold Sore Outbreaks
Directions: To boost immune function and prevent cold sores, take 1 capsule in the morning, and 1 capsule in the evening. During times of increased stress or decreased immune function, take 2 capsules in the morning, and 2 capsules in the evening.
Immune Support Ingredients: Vitamin A (as beta carotene), Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid), Vitamin D3 (as cholecalciferol), Vitamin B12 (as methylcobalamin), Zinc (as zinc citrate), Selenium (as selenium glycinate), N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Organic Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), Organic Echinacea (root) (Echinacea angustifolia), Organic Ashwaganda (Withania somnifera), Organic Elderberry (fruit) (Sambucus nigra), Organic Maitake Mushroom (Grifola frondosa), Organic Reishi Mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum).
Along with taking Immune Support daily, the best way to prevent cold sores is to also take two more inexpensive supplements.
To prevent cold sores like a total BOSS, add the following two supplements to your daily Immune Support regimen:
20. Zinc – A mineral that boosts the immune system. Most of the world is very deficient in zinc, and this is a top reason for people getting cold sores so often. Immune Support contains zinc, but not quite enough in my opinion. Take an additional 30 mg of high-quality zinc picolinate daily with food.
21. Lysine – An essential amino acid found in protein-rich foods and supplements. In 1981, Christopher Kagan, M.D., discovered that if he isolated HSV in a petri dish, and added the amino acid L-arginine, the virus would multiply. However, when he added L-lysine, the virus’s ability to multiply became inhibited.
He realized the virus becomes inhibited because lysine blocks the bioavailability of arginine, which prevents the virus from replicating. In simple terms, the virus that causes cold sores has a very difficult time replicating when there are high levels of lysine and low levels of arginine in the body.
Many studies have shown that using 1,000 to 3,000 mg of a lysine supplement daily can prevent cold sore outbreaks. Take 1,000 mg of a high-quality lysine supplement 1-3 times daily on an empty stomach 45 minutes before meals.
Review on how to prevent cold sores using supplements:
- Immune Support – Take 1 capsule in the morning and 1 capsule in the evening. During times of increased stress or decreased immune function, take 2 capsules in the morning, and 2 capsules in the evening.
- Zinc Picolinate – Take 30 mg a day with food. During times of increased stress or decreased immune function, take 60 mg.
- Lysine – Take 1,000 mg first in the morning on an empty stomach as a daily cold sore prevention. During times of increased stress or decreased immune function, take 1,000 mg of lysine 2-3 times daily.
Cold Sore Remedies – Conclusion
As you can see, there are plenty of cold sore remedies you can use to prevent and treat cold sores. Now you have a variety of cold sore remedies in your “toolkit” that will really help you in major ways.
If you have any comments or questions on preventing or treating cold sores with the cold sore remedies mentioned in this article, please post them in the comment box below.