Cold Sore Treatment Tips: {Home Remedies}

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Here are several different methods that I’ve tried for healing or preventing cold sores from forming and they have worked for me.

It’s most effective to apply treatment as soon as you notice the “tingling” that happens right before a blister appears. Some of these may burn a bit or cause a sting, numb the spot with an ice cube first if that bothers you.

ItemsTry *one* of the items below, do not apply everything all at the same time.

  • Perfume
  • Vodka
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Toothpaste: Dab some on and leave there as long as possible.
  • Tea Tree Oil (melaleuca oil)
  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda
  • Hydrogen Peroxide

Keep treating until it disappears completely. I know some people pick and poke and try to get it to pop or drain, but that’s never worked well for me (bigger mess and possible scar to deal with).

Title

  • I find it also helps to keep the lips covered with chapstick or lip balm, slathering it on constantly as soon as I feel one forming.
  • Please remember to use separate hand towels, bath towels, and wash cloths. You’re dealing with the herpes simplex virus and it’s very contagious. Also avoid sharing utensils, dishes, cups and kissing for awhile.
  • This virus can cause blindness if it gets in your eyes, don’t touch them unless you have thoroughly washed your hands first.

Do you have any tried and true remedies that I missed? Please share by adding it in the discussion are below :).

Please Note: These are from my collection, none are intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. This information is provided for general knowledge purposes only.

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Published: March 8, 2007
Updated: September 13, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
62 Comments to “Cold Sore Treatment Tips: {Home Remedies}”
  1. Beverly says:

    I use a little bit of “Super Lysine Plus” cream as soon as the tingle starts. The active ingredients in this are Zinc Oxide and L-Lysine. I works 90% of the time. You can purchase it at a health food store or drug store.

  2. Kansas Allen says:

    I think I’ve tried everything for my cold sores, including Doctor prescribed medications! The worst thing for me was creams, I wanted to “dry” out the cold sore, not keep it moist, which made it worse. After trying, what I thought was everything, my Doctor suggested L-Lysine. It’s a capsule and it not only helps prevent cold sores, but aids in calcium absorption and retention. You can purchase it at any health or drug store. I take one a day and increase if I do get a cold sore. If my cold sore does break out (which is rare since taking the L-Lysine) I then use a clear water type liquid prescribed by my Doctor called Sab- Idoxuridine (it’s expensive but very little is used). I’ve used these two things now for about 10 years and my cold sores are very few and far between :)

  3. TipNut says:

    Thanks for the tips guys! I’ve heard a lot of good things about L-Lysine, but have never tried it.

    • Rox Mtz says:

      I have been bothered with cold sores all my life. There are 2 remedies I found that help.
      1. There are L-Lysine pills available in the vitamin aisle. I take one twice a day when I begin to feel the beginning “tingle.”
      2. Vitamin E tablets (not the ones in the oils…pure tablets) just take a pin, poke hole , smear on lip area where needed. place pin into pill to store until needed again.

      • Erica says:

        Silly question…..Vitamin E….not in the oils but pure tablets……not sure what you mean. I am not sure which ones you mean…..I thought all vitamin e tablets were oil. Can you please explain further? :)

        • jen says:

          i think they are referring to the vitamin E that comes in a bottle with a brush. Don’t get that kind, just the capsules. this is my best guess hope it helps

  4. linda says:

    Uncoated aspirin, dissolved in a bit of water to form a paste. Apply paste to tingling area/blister.

    Aloe vera, direct from the plant (more effective than commercial gel products). Apply to tingling area/blister.

  5. Julia Dawn Mason says:

    I use a product called Zilactin. It coats the cold sore like a mini waterproof Bandaid. I use it as soon as I feel the tingling feeling before the blister erupts and it will usually cut the time in half to completely heal.

  6. Candy says:

    Thanks for the tips I have used Vicks vapo rub and it works well also. As soon as you feel the tingle start putting it on and keep applying it will either keep it from blistering or will shorten the outbreak.

  7. Joy says:

    I’ve had very good luck with just an ice cube, particularly when I catch the cold sore at the first signs. I wrap an ice cube in a paper towel, leaving part of the cube exposed, then apply the ice to the cold sore for as long as I can stand it. Repeat a couple of times until the ice cube melts. Repeat entire process if necessary, but the most I’ve had to do it is twice. Sometimes even if the cold sore has become puffy this will still work and the cold sore just disappears like it was never there.

    • Sandy Wheeler says:

      The ice cube trick works for me every time. I haven’t had a cold sore since I discovered this method. As soon as I feel one starting I hold an ice cube on the spot for as long as I can stand it and it never develops.

      • Linda says:

        This morning on my way to work I felt a pinch on my lip then noticed a tiny little bump. I took some ice out of my iced coffee and held the ice there the whole way there. About an hour after I got to work, I got another ice cube and put it on my lip again. Usually by now (4 hours after I first notice it forming) it’s itchy and has doubled in size. It’s not itching and the size is the same as when I first noticed it. This i the first time I have tried the ice cube trick and *knock on wood* it seems to be working. I usually get them once a year or once every 2 years.

        Once you first notice it, try the ice cube thing. Not sure it works for everyone, but it seems to be working for me!

  8. Mary says:

    I use zine and L-lysine. I carry both (available at health food stores) with me at all times. As soon as I feel that tingle, I take a zinc and 2 L-Lysine. Like Kansas Alan said above, I haven’t been bothered by cold sores for over 10 years. (yeah!)

  9. Wayne Mason says:

    Over dosing on Vit C helps the body to cure it’s self, I start with 1000 as soon as the tingling starts & one tablet every 4 hours .

  10. Lotto says:

    As soon as I sense the tingle I take 2- L-lysine and 2 Vitamin E. I repeat every 3-5 hours for a few days. Most of the time, it never gets past the tingling stage.

  11. Dorothy says:

    I find that too much Vitamine C causes the cold sores for me. I think this may be caused by a digestion problem,I have to limit my juice & fruit, but I take L-Lysine every day and double up if I feel a tingle. It works great. If I get a sore I use camphor on it to dry it up.

  12. Jean says:

    My grandmother passed this on to me as a young child. This one is free nothing to buy and no doctors to see.
    When the tingle starts tear a few small pieces (1 1/2 square)of brown paper bag (no printing). Put this in a glass bowl in your kitchen sink. Light the paper let it burn then dump the ashes out in your sink. There is a yellow film left in the botton of your glass dish. Immediatly while it is still warm – rub your finger on on the stain at the bottom of the bowl, apply to the tingle area. It does leave a yellowish stain but it goes away in a day or so. This has worked for me over and over again even after it has formed a blister. It dry it out.

  13. Sarah says:

    Ever since getting sun poision, mine (inflames and spread accross the interior of my lip-very painful). Any of the following work: *I do drain the liquid of the exterior blister or treatment other than Zovirax pills doesn’t work*

    1000 L-Lysine & 1000 Vit C & 500 Vit E several times a day. OR

    Dab camphophenic with a Q-tip (new tip every time) OR

    Household bleach (EXTERIOR eruptions ONLY)

    Keep the area clean – outbreaks are VERY contagous, the intimate areas are especially suseptible to contamination.

    I make 2 lip balms – 1 w/LLysine and Vit E and 1 w/vit E or petroleum base and zinc. Whe the infection is gone I cut off the tips of the balms and store for the next bout. I also discard my toothbrush after the break out is over. Never reuse an exposed item. Wash it with hot water and bleach-away from everyday clothes. **however, there are lip balms @ the local pharmacy.

    Please tho keep in mind that Stress, poor eating habits, overly acidic foods, vitamin deficiency and some types of lipblams help to cause the break outs.

  14. Jessica says:

    Abreva works wonders for me. It is a bit expensive (and I know not a home remedy), but I’ve used it for years and it shortens the cycle of my blister and helps it not break out as intensely. Cold sores (or fever blisters as we call them in my family) act quickly, so make sure you act faster…I keep this in my purse ALL the time so that I can get it as soon as I feel the tingle. Minutes literally do count here.

    I agree with the Lysine method. Taking Lysine everyday (and upping the amount if you have an outbreak) will help as well.

    I have gotten a precription of Acyclovir from my doctor as well. This really helps the outbreak stop quickly.

  15. amy says:

    i have been using which its not really home made–but Avons Clearskin-pimple treatment ! it works wonders!

  16. Michelle Lowe says:

    TAKE SOME LYSINE. This is an essential amino acid you get in the vitamin section. Take it daily for a month and any time you have a tingle. I have not had a cold sore for over 2 years!!! I was plagued with them monthly, corresponding to my cycle and stress. THIS IS A WONDER CURE. You will tell your friends.

  17. Eliza says:

    I have used Vanilla Extract. It works well to dry it out quickly.

  18. Helen says:

    I remember my grandmother telling me, when I was a young girl…I’m almost 63 now…to use ear wax on cold sores. Would you believe it really works! In all my years, I’ve only had one cold sore..and thats because I didn’t put the ear wax on as soon as I felt the tingle. I know…it sounds gross, but just put a little on as soon as you feel the cold sore’s tingle (preferrably overnight) and you’ll never have to worry about those unsightly cold sores (or fever blisters as my grandmother used to call them) any more.

    • Michelle says:

      thank you Helen for posting this. My husband told me about this remedy that he learned from his mother. It did sound gross when I first heard of it, but you are right, as soon as u feel the tingle, apply ear wax and that’s all you’ll ever have is the tingle . . . . .

  19. aisha says:

    I get cold sores all the time, I’m talking once or twice a month and when I do get them I get a few together. Today I got 4 coldsores on my top lip hence why I’m on google searching home remedies.

    So far tried various creams but not found anything to cure it fast, usually take a week – also tried cold sore plasters but don’t like thought of something being stuck to my lips for days. Will try the ice remedy now.

    • cherie says:

      i was getting these all the time, too. the ice worked for me most of the time- but sometimes at work i could not break away from the classroom to go get ice right away-then b/c i waited awhile, a cold sore would erupt, then i had to deal w/ it for a week and a half!!!!!! But i read this somewhere and it works EVERY TIME for about a year or two now, and i do not have to be near an ice machine. Acne treatment- any of them that have sacalytic acid (i am sure that i misspelled that!) burt’s bees has it in there, but also at walmart in the makeup section- a brand call “elf” zit zapper has this ingerdient in there. and it costs only 1 dollar! Works- just when you feel that tingle-rub it on there- i keep it up a few more times- like every hour or so maybe 3 or 4 times. this has NEVER failed me yet!!! NO BLISTER EVER HAS APPERARED since i do this!!!!!

  20. lisa says:

    Hello,
    I always used to get coldsores around my cycle each month.
    as the first sign of a tingle , hold an ice cube on the sore as long as you can.
    I also put some facial mudd on to dry it up , esp over night :-)

    My mom is 86 & has just recently has gotten a few on her lip.. The Dr said they are uusally brought on my stress..

    SO relax everyone :_)

  21. cd1509 says:

    I always use rubbing alcohol to scrub the area with a gauze pad or an alcohol swipe. Burns like crazy, but it goes away in a matter of hours….The alcohol kills the Herpes virus.

  22. jaden says:

    apply a lot of alcohol to sore or if possible…… may sound stupid but chewing tobacco works excellent if its open. The tobacco works as a antiseptic and i had it killed and healing the next day.

  23. Tinkerbell666 says:

    A paste of coffee granules and a bit of hot water will dry the spot up quite quickly.

  24. Kate says:

    I could not stress my agreement more about L-Lysine! I used to get cold sores 2-4x a month. I would go weeks without being able to even kiss my husband. I tried Abreva and Acyclovir (800mg/5x a day with horrible side effects!!). I still got cold sores even while I was taking the Acyclovir. My diet was impeccable and my stress was minimal. I tried immune boosting herbs and vitamins. Nothing worked. Then I read in an article online that lysine can help prevent breakouts. I’ve been taking 1000mg of lysine 1x a day for 6 months now and I haven’t had one breakout since. If I’m stressed/tired/sick I increase it to 1000mg 2x a day.

    Seriously. Try it if you haven’t.

  25. Jamie says:

    I rotated lavender and tea tree oil 3 times a day about a month ago just as I felt it coming on and it was gone in 3 days and never opened up to make the big nasty sore. Minimal pain and itching. I’ve battled these for years and this worked great. I was completely amazed!

  26. Victoria Richards says:

    My Granny always told me to put a dab of vanilla extract on it. It worked & healed it fast & eased the pain cause there is alcohol in it. It also tasted kind of good

  27. Adelyn says:

    I use Zinc Oxide Cream the min. I feel the tingle. I haven’t had a cold sore in 4 years and I use to get them every 3 months. The DR would prescribe meds that did not help. The Zinc Oxide is around 2.00 for a tube that lasts forever.

  28. Bryanne Ryley says:

    What works for me the most is mouth wash! Just dabbing some on every couple of hours. Its works fast though it can be a bit painful. I’m definiately going to try sime of your ideas. Thanks

  29. Verda Brady says:

    Paragoric is the answer for my cold sores. You must have a prescription but 2 ounces will last forever. Dab on with cotton swab when tingling first begins and continue to use until healed.

  30. Sustenance says:

    I never found an all-natural remedy that’s totally worked. I mentioned it to my doctor – she gave me Valtrex pills (you only take 1 or 2 in a days time). The prescription can be expensive so my doctor gave me some sample packs for the first few times.
    I took one pill when I started to feel the “tingle” – I took them a couple different times & no cold sore appeared (& if it did it was just a small red bump).
    I haven’t had to take a pill AT ALL in past 3 years & haven’t had any cold sores in at least 3 or 4 years.
    Closest thing to a cure is my guess! I am so grateful it worked – I used to get cold sores constantly & they were always huge & painful & awful.

  31. Spike says:

    Applying Vaseline or Aquaphor at first tingle, keep it coated and it will never scab and be gone in 2 days, learned from working as a dermatology nurse for 8 years

  32. Becca says:

    I have tried basically everything (including getting them burnt with a laser at a dentist office) and nothing helped. With mine, I have to dry them out – not keep them moist. But I started using Campho Phenique from the grocery store. It is by all the other cold sore/canker sore/lip treatment things, but instead of $16+ dollars like Abreva, it is under $5! I start applying it as soon as I feel the tingling and as long as I keep applying it, the sore never opens up and is completely gone within a few days.

  33. Altina says:

    Mixture paste with toothpaste and salt. Keep it on for an hour then repeat if need to dry out sore.

  34. Polly says:

    Always wear a lip balm with SPF30 when in the sun. I get cold sores if I don’t do this. Thanks for the interesting and helpful solutions

  35. J. says:

    Surprisingly, applying Listerine mouthwash with a cotton ball helps to relieve the discomfort and helps the fever blister heal more quickly.

  36. Abby says:

    I hold a used tea bag (black or green), still warm, to the sore to remove the sting/itch but I’m not sure that it actually speeds healing time.

  37. Tricia says:

    I have had Cold sores for decades! When I feel the tingle I reach for a Q-tip dipped into Tea Tree oil. An ice cube to the tingle, helps keep the swelling down. Cycle the cube on & off as it melts. Over the Counter Hydrocortisone cream is Effective if you reapply it every hour or so as the blister is trying to form. I alternate Tea Tree with Hydrocortisone every couple of hours, & apply the ice as soon as tingling starts again. I know that Hydrocort cream is a medication,not a natural remedy, but If I don’t use it I will get a terrible blister that doesn’t heal for weeks.
    In full diclosure I have had to seek Antiviral oral meds, I have had them so badly, due to an autoimmune condition. But for some breakouts that are not as severe, Tea Tree oil & ice cubes are miraculous! It is also very helpful to take an antiiflammatory like Aspirin /Buffered aspirin, to help your body fight the inflammation, internally.

  38. Amber says:

    I find ear wax is the best. Sounds gross but works like a charm!!

  39. diane says:

    I at the first sign of tingle will put toothpaste on it, and sprinkle a little gold bond in my hand and press to lips. leave on overnight. hardly ever breaks through skin and is gone by the next day .

  40. ty says:

    Call your dentist or dermatologist. They do laser treatments. Which removes it with a little scab.out should be done as soon as you see the blister form. Also its just a little zap. But best because they do not ever come back in the same spot again.

  41. brooke says:

    Water & vinegar- swoosh around like mouth wash, spit out, repeat a segond time.

  42. Shalane says:

    I am on this site for the first time and WOW :) love all the tips. Coldsores are like warts, they are in your blood if you get your first one you will get them again. My aunt and I are very prone to them as soon as a get sick or stressed and my immune system is low…. you can bet your bottom dollar one will form…… have always been using creams, but the coldsores still last like 2 weeks, until I bought a tube of Tea tree gel….. my coldsores are gone in 4 days. the trick is to try them out completely so they can form a scab and go away….. DONT keep them moisture it only allows the blistering parts to ooze and grow more….. I am 25 and been getting them since I was around 5 years old. Trust me :) it works.

  43. mjxfingers says:

    EVERYONE: You need to be really careful what you put on those cold sores, as whatever you put ON them ends up in your bloodstream and goes through your body. *I* would not use anything like bleach (OMG!) or especially tooth paste. Most tooth paste’s contain the ingredient Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is the foaming agent. I found out this CAUSES cancer and mouth sores – I don’t use toothpaste w/it in it at all anymore. It’s important to figure out WHY you get them. It’s not only caused by stress, it’s also caused by certain chemicals in certain foods. For me, it’s chocolate and I can’t eat the Snackwell vanilla Vienna cookies! Pay attention to what you’re eating and you’ll have less & less of them as you figure out what foods you eat that bring them on. Good Luck!

  44. Delaney says:

    Also, getting one end of a Q tip wet and rubbing that on the cold sore then put some baby powder in your hand and scoop some up with the dry end of the Q tip an apply on cold sore. That usually does the job for me!

  45. daniel b says:

    Im trying the vanilla extract now. Along with alternating applications of ice.
    I cant feel the tingle anymore but its still there. We will see in the morning.
    Ill eventually try theseALL out at some point to see what works best.
    Ive seen ear wax pop up a lot so that will be tried the next outbreak.

  46. daniel brogoitti says:

    When at school I also do ice asap
    I have a pocket in my bag filled with creams and applicable liquids and balms
    But stress and eating wrong makes it worse.
    I get them one after another.

  47. Tasha says:

    I have started taking a probiotic and it helps me from having cold sores! Toothpaste always dried mine up when I did get them!

  48. Nana2008 says:

    I have been getting coldsores for most of my life. I have read alot of remidies that I haven’t heard of. Thanks toall who wrote them.

  49. karenk says:

    I’ve used every over the counter treatment and nothing ever worked. My cold sores got huge and ugly and took 2 weeks or more to heal. This time I’m in a wedding and was desperate for a quick & inexpensive cure. I Tried the ice cube trick, alternating with applying tee tree oil, which I hand on hand,
    with a q-tip. OMG!!! Success! The blister never completely formed and within 2 days was just a lil dot on my lip. Not noticable at all!! :) I will use this treatment from now on! I iced the lip 4 times a day, followed by tea tree oil.

  50. Stephanie says:

    As soon as you feel the tingle crush peppermint tums into a paste and dab it on your lips. Usually the blister won’t even appear.

  51. John says:

    I have had cold sores most of my life and came up with a few ideas that seem to help. First, if you have a bad cold with a fever you must know a blister is imminent. Apply Abreva BEFORE the blister arrives and apply it during the first day of the cold and continue doing so. Use lip balm or Vaseline afterwards to avoid drying out your lips. I just did this during a very bad flu bug and the two I got were small and barely noticeable. Second, apply ice cubes to lips BEFORE the blister arrives just like with Abreva above. I noticed years ago after drinking lots of ice water for a sore throat that the blisters avoided the areas where the cold water had constantly been in contact with my lips as I drank. You could see a clear line of demarcation from where the ice water had touched my lips and where the blisters began. Third, apply nail polish remover to a new blister with a Qtip and press gently while doing so. Repeat this step several times over the next few hours. Fourth, apply ice cubes to lips several times after each nail polish application and apply Vaseline to keep lips from drying out. Fifth, I’ve read that allowing a scab to form actually inhibits and slows the development of healed tissue below. Dermatologists say to use hydrogen peroxide to soften the scab and then apply Vaseline. Too much peroxide can also kill new skin cells forming however. Fourth, Lysine seems to be recommended a lot by everyone however I’ve read it can harm your liver so read up on it first. Lastly, I’ve just had the worst cold of recent times and I ve had excellent results with the two blisters that popped up. I’m into day 3 and they are barely noticeable. If you hit the blisters proactively before onset and continue diligently after they arrive I bet you too will be successful! Good luck everyone!

  52. Sandy says:

    Use virgin coconut oil as soon as the tingling comes on. Apply religiously. The LouAna brand is not as efficient. I did this on Saturday when I felt the tingle and it is Monday…the sore never developed.

  53. Jenny McNicoll says:

    hi
    in my lifetime ive only had about 6 cold sores and have had them for no longer than 3 days….it stings like hell but the nice thing is that it works and never had a complaint (other than it stings lots lol) its a little trick thats been passed a few generations

    things needed:
    a piece of paper (newspaper works best)
    a plate
    and a lighter

    scrunch the paper into a ball and put it on the plate and light it off till the paper burns completely then blow away the ashes in the sink quickly…the brown residue left on the plate is hot and oily, rub your clean hands onto the oily patch and rub it onto your cold sore then your done
    it will kill the sore to the root….it works best when your sore first shows…hurts less.
    do that once or twice for 2 days and it should be going away and scar free

    works like a charm


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