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4 Easy Things You Can Do To Get Rid Of A Cold Sore

Today’s post covers a subject that I’ve received a lot of questions about over the years: cold sores. The cause and treatment of cold sores is a topic that many people don’t understand completely. In fact, when we started planning to write this blog post, no one on the OGT Team could seem to agree on what a cold sore actually was or what caused it! That just goes to show that there is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there about cold sores, so I thought it would be a good idea to begin by going over some basic facts. :-)

What Is A Cold Sore?

A cold sore is a red blister on the outside of the mouth, usually located along the edge of the lips. The blister may break, ooze, or form a crust. Cold sores are considered very contagious until they heal completely, which can take between ten days and two weeks.

Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which is different than the one that causes genital herpes (HSV-2). HSV-1 is both really common and really contagious. It’s estimated that about 2/3 of the world’s population has HSV-1 (though not everyone who has it will experience symptoms like cold sores.) HSV-1 is usually spread by the mouth, through things like kissing, sharing drinks, sharing utensils, etc.

Cold Sores

4 Ways To Treat A Cold Sore

The most important thing to remember about treating cold sores is that time is of the essence! The quicker you can start treating a cold sore, the better off you’ll be. Most people experience a burning or itching feeling around their mouth up to a day or two before a cold sore appears. If you start treating it as soon as you feel that itchy feeling, you may be able to minimize the size, appearance, and duration of the cold sore.

Cold Sores

1. Eat Probiotic Foods

Probiotics are “good” bacteria that can help boost your immune system and fight off viruses and infections. Eating or drinking probiotic foods like yogurt, kimchi, apple cider vinegar, or kombucha can help give your immune system the support it needs to heal a cold sore fast.

Related: This Amazing Crockpot Yogurt Is Surprisingly Easy To Make

Cold Sores

2. Use Ice

Applying ice to a cold sore can help reduce redness and inflammation. Make a simple cold compress by soaking a clean cloth in ice water. Apply it to the cold sore for 5-10 minutes, re-wetting the cloth when it no longer feels cold. Repeat this a few times a day as needed. (And don’t forget to wash the cloth afterwards—remember, cold sores are contagious!)

Cold Sores

3. Apply Honey

Honey has antimicrobial properties that can help fight a cold sore and speed up the healing process. A 2004 study found that applying honey to genital herpes lesions improved healing and healing speed by around 50% compared to applying acyclovir, a common ingredient in prescription herpes treatments. Be sure to use raw, unfiltered honey, and dab a small amount on the cold sore a few times a day.

Beginners Guide to Essential Oils

4. Use Essential Oils

Certain essential oils can be used to help treat cold sores. A 2003 study found that peppermint oil had antiviral effects against both HSV-1 and HSV-2. Additionally, tea tree oil has been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal effects, and has been suggested as a treatment for a variety of skin conditions. Researchers also believe that tea tree oil can speed the healing process of certain wounds. And finally, another oil that can be useful against cold sores is lavender oil. It hasn’t been shown to be effective against herpes specifically, but it does have wonderfully soothing effects that can help reduce pain and itching from a cold sore.

By combining the effects of honey and the three essential oils mentioned above, you can make a powerful cold sore treatment that can help heal a cold sore fast AND provide pain and itch relief. Here’s how to make it!

Essential Oil Treatment For Cold Sores


Directions and Use:

Combine all ingredients in a small glass jar. Dab the mixture onto a cold sore (or emerging cold sore) twice a day. Let it sit on the cold sore as long as you can, or at least several minutes.

Cold Sores

What To Do After A Cold Sore

Even once a cold sore has healed, there are still a few things you’ll want to do to prevent the virus from spreading:

  • Replace Your Toothbrush. Your toothbrush has definitely been exposed to the virus, make sure to dispose of it and replace it with a new one.
  • Change Your Pillowcase. Replace your pillowcase with a clean one, and wash the other one with hot water.

Cold Sores

Tips For Preventing Cold Sores

If you have HSV-1, there are a few different things that can trigger a cold sore. One trigger is sunlight, so make sure to use a chapstick that provides SPF protection. Stress can be another trigger, which is probably trickier to avoid than excessive sun exposure! But you can manage your stress levels by exercising regularly, meditating, doing yoga, or whatever calming activity you prefer.

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Natural Remedies

  • L-lysine is an amino acid that you can take to help them, and prevent them. Take 4000mg a day to make them go away, and 500 mg to prevent them. Works like a charm, and you can get them at the grocery store and online.

  • I have to be careful in the winter with chapped lips. If I don’t apply something to moisturize my lips, a cold sore will start to break out. Most of the time I get the tingling feeling before the actual sore appears and if I apply Abreva or a generic form, I can sometimes nip it in the bud. Thank you, Jillee, for the tips when a sore does break out!

  • Herpes is a sexually transmitted virus that primarily infects the mouth and the genitals. It is transmitted by bodily fluids – penetration isn’t required for transmission, oral-oral or oral-genital contact will suffice, There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both virus types can cause sores around the mouth (herpes labialis) and on the genitals (genital herpes). It’s also crucial to learn as much as you can about your diagnosis. Seek options, Find out about what’s out there that could help, You can purchase herbs from: ( drsimsgomezherbs . com ).

  • I got Diagnosed with Herpes, I have be dealing with Herpes for the past 4 years. On till I got review online about natural cure people testifies how DR. Salami cure them with his herbal treatment. And I order the treatment, after taking it for 21 days I totally got cured with DR. Salami treatment. I’m recommending you diagnosis with herpes should get this treatment and be cured of it you can contact his email address via; dr. salamiherbalcenter180@gmail. com or you can also call or whatsapp +2348143142163 Website: https://drsalamiherbalcent.wixsite.com/doctorsalami Dr. Salami also cure the following virus and many more… 1} Cancer 2} Diabetes 3} Hepatitis 4} fibroid 5} herpes 6} Lupus 

  • Not sure if this will work for cold sores, but I use Alum on my canker sores. It heals them up in 1-2 days. Canker sores occur inside the mouth. Just dab some alum on the sore, leave on for about 15 seconds and wipe off. It will taste very bitter. Do this 2 to 3 times a day. Alum is found in the spices sections of your grocery store. This works better than anything else I’ve ever tried, including prescription medications.

  • I’m 63 years old and have had cold sores for most of my life. I’ve found the best treatment is to take at least 2 tabs of l-lysine every day, and using l-lysine topical ointment when I feel a cold sore coming on. The best product I’ve found for this is this one found at Puritan’s Pride: https://is.gd/WmT4jt It’s reasonably priced and is even great for those not suffering from cold sores.

  • Maybe this is TMI, and is a little gross, but my sis-in-law used baby pee from her child’s diaper, for cold sores. Of course, that’s when there were little ones around.

  • Hi Jillee… I tried to “pin” the first photo to my board, but this photo doesn’t show up when you click the “pin” button icon.

    The photo that pops up says ’10 ways to use cinnamon’
    Just thought you might want to fix it.

  • For over 40 yrs I have used vinegar, as soon as I feel that little tingle I dab a little white vinegar on the area. Never have had a fever blister, just the tingle. My children & grandchildren know to do the same.

  • Jillee, I’m surprised you didn’t mention melissa essential oil; it’s great for cold sores. Just apply at the first sign, usually tingling, and it cuts the healing time….

  • I received a shingles vaccine and got quite a few, very mild, cold sore for a while afterwards. However, I haven’t had one in several years which is unheard of for me. I used to get two to four a year for more than 40 years! I have no proof that this works but my doctor told me it was a definite possibility.

    • Shingles is caused by Herpes varicella-zoster virus , The first time one is infected, chickenpox is the result (anything from almost nothing to full blown pox everywhere) Cold sores are caused by Herpes simplex. These viruses are different, but in the Herpes “family”. But odd immune responses to vaccine can certainly happen, as your doc said. I just got my Shingles vaccine, and am so glad I did after watching my mom go through a very painful case.

  • Lysine helps, you can get it in an ointment. But for me the best thing is take Lysine pills daily. They are found near the vitamins and you don’t need a prescription.

  • Ear wax! Sounds gross but it does work. Apply frequently at the first tingle. Even works on outbreaks AND pimples. It’s free and as close as your pinky finger. If you don’t have ear wax, you need to see a doctor!

  • I use real vanilla extract. When I feel it coming on, I grab a q-tip, put it in the vanilla and then apply it. Only takes a few times and it stops it from forming.

  • I use Abreva and it really works well, and if I catch it asap, it seems to stop it in it’s tracks (for the most part). At least you don’t feel the need to hide in a dark room until it’s gone! I know it’s not natural treatment but I understand the horrifying embarrassment of having what I like to call a “sun blister” since I usually get them when I get a sunburn (plus it just sounds better than HERPES!) and it just works so well for me that I felt the need to share.

  • BEST thing to do is super dose L-lysine in conjunction with this. I had one JUST LAST WEEK and at first feeling of onset, start 1500mg and continue 3x day for 2 days. this also helps with shingles aim for about 5-6kmg/day during flare

  • I haven’t had a cold sore lately, my life must be less stressful, ha. I crush an aspirin or Tylenol in a little water to make a paste and apply. I have to do this when I will be at home as it looks ridiculous though

  • I am a frequent sufferer of cold sores . . . when I feel the sensation of an upcoming cold sore I pull out a clove of garlic, cut it in half and press it between my thumb and pointer finger to extract the garlic juice (allicin found in garlic draws out the infection contributed to cold sores). Then with garlic and juice in hand I press it onto the infected area. This works like a charm every time including cankers.

    • hi jillie and everyone ! i use common house hold bleach at the very first tingle i use a q tip and pour a little of the bleach in a shot glass and through out the day i dip the tip and put it in my lip no it does not kill you but it does kill the virus and if i dont get to it fast enough ive even put it on the open cold sore ,and yes it burns like all get out but it clears it up now! and the more i have done it the less i have to do it i havent had a cold sore in years

  • I suffered with cold sores all my life UNTIL I started taking L-Lysine every day. If I forget and one starts I take 3000mg 3 x day and it stops it in its tracks and never spreads or comes to fruition. Amazing stuff L-Lysine.

  • I was told that geranium essential oil used directly onto a cold sore is the best thing to do. I have done it and it does help a lot. But is this the smarter thing to do or should I make the honey recipe above?

    • Do whatever works best for you! I don’t usually suggest using essential oils without mixing them into something first – depending on your skin it can cause some dryness and redness. But if the straight essential oil works for you, then don’t worry about it! :-)

  • I have had breakouts since I was a teenager, I can usually feel it coming on. I have used ice before, but now I keep a small tube of Campho-Phenique with me at all times. It helps me stop it and if I should have a breakout, it will heal it fast. Stress seems to be the cause of my outbreaks, more than anything else. Thanks for the info.

  • I guess I’m worse of than I thought ! A Pharmacist told me to add L-lysine to my vitamin regimin and I have been using it for over 20years. I have just added super B vitamin in the last 3 years to my vitamin intake. I am still a cronic sufferer. Tho I don’t get cold sores I do get canker sores. I have since I was a child. I kno they are totally different things but they are both positive for HSV-1. I have gone to numerous Drs and I finally found a Dr. who took me seriously enuf to put me on a medication.Valacyclovir. All other Drs told me there is nothing they can do.. even an ENT. I have also seen DDS. I kno ur post was for”cold sores” but when I saw the other comments on L-lysine I had to chime in.
    Jillie…. If u do a post on cankor sores I definitely have more to say. Thank you for ur interest.

  • I see my to have problems with cold sore outbreaks when I’m under a lot of stress. I’ve also heard once you’ve had one, the virus that causes them remains dormant in your body. I’ve also tried the Lysine before. I was having a problem with an outbreak and a customer at our store suggested it.

  • L-lycin works like a.charm. 500-1000mg a day to prevent them, 4000 mg to heal them. Senescence Lipsense seems to.work too. It feels like alcohol is in it so I guess that is why.

  • Another effective treatment is vanilla essence. Apply as frequently as you want. As you mentioned, the quicker you begin the treatment the better. If applied at the first indication of the coldsore tingle, vanilla essence can prevent the blisters developing.

      • all of your suggestions are brilliant and i have a new one that i have used for years as i have been a frequent sufferer of core sores and that is i keep a small can of saurkraut around and i take a couple bites and make sure the juice gets on it and i do this everyday for the duration but the l-lisine and apple cider vinegar is good also as i have used them when i didn’t have saurkraut.. hope this ads to anyone who is suffering with the cold sores.

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