Home Remedies Cold Sores

This page on home remedies cold sores explains what cold sores are and the home remedies to help prevent flare ups and relieve your symptoms when they do flare up.

What are Cold Sores?

Cold sores (aka fever blisters) are caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes viruses that infect humans: Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 causes 80% of all oral herpes, ie cold sores. HSV-2 causes most genital herpes. In both cases, the virus persists/remains in your body forever - and cold sores are one of the symptoms of the virus.

Cold Sore on Lips

Cold Sores Are Caused by a Virus and Are Highly Contagious With Direct Contact

Unlike canker sores, cold sores are contagious. Usually they spread only during active periods of outbreak but on rare occasions, can also spread during latent phases. Cold sores can be transferred through direct contact, kissing, sexual contact, and sharing personal belongings that come in contact with the sore. They mainly occur on the skin near the mouth and lips and look like watery blisters.

Home Remedies Cold Sores
Try these natural home remedies for cold sores. Generally speaking, an untreated outbreak can last 10-14 days. If you don't see any improvement (reduction in size or pain of the sore) after 10-14 days, consult a physician.

  • Ice. Apply an ice cube directly to the cold sore to bring swelling down and provide temporary relief. You can do this for a few minutes and repeat every hour.
  • Lemon. Cut a slice of lemon and place it on the cold sore. Leave for as long as you like and replace the lemon slice every so often. Do not use this home remedy on open cold sores or wounds as the acid can sting.
  • Tea Bag. It has been suggested that the tannic acid found in teas have anti-viral properties. Placing a warm tea bag directly on the cold sore for about 20-30 minutes can help to minimize the swelling and prevent the cold sore from growing. You can repeat this every hour.
  • Peppermint Oil. This is known to also have anti-viral properties and can penetrate the skin helping to cure the cold sore.
  • Whole Milk. Raw whole milk contains a fat called monocaprin that can help kill the virus. You can try applying milk fat with a cotton ball directly to the cold sore.
  • Garlic. Studies have shown that garlic is an antibiotic with the ability to destroy several virus types, including herpes type 1 and 2. Try eating 2 raw garlic cloves at a time (but not more as it can be harsh on your stomach). Some people have suggested taking 900 mg of garlic supplements per day, like Garlinase Fresh

Things to Avoid

  • Touching! Cold sores are highly contagious. Touching them with your fingers can not only spread the virus, but also cause bacterial infection. If you do, wash your hands immediately.
  • Stress! When your immune system is weak, which often happens under high stress levels, the body can trigger cold sores to appear if you already have the virus in your system.
  • Sunlight. As we often suggest, wear sunscreen to protect your lips and other areas with cold sore outbreaks and avoid spending too much time in the sun.
  • Makeup. Covering the cold sore with makeup or cosmetic products can aggravate the sore and some cosmetics may contain chemicals that are harsh for sensitive parts of the skin, like a cold sore.

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