Cold Sore

Cold sore treatments

3 min read

Those who get cold sores, know you’ll often feel it before you see it. A couple of days after it does finally appear, it may break open and eventually crust over[1].

Without treatment, it may take around two weeks to heal and disappear[2], and you might experience pain around your lips and when swallowing[2]. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to get help heal a cold sore faster.

  • There is no cure for the virus that causes cold sores, but cold sore patches can help minimize the signs and symptoms
  • Common treatments likes anti-viral creams or tablets could help speed up your recovery compared to applying no treatment [3]
  • Cooling home remedies for cold sores can help ease pain

In this article:

  •  Cold sore treatments
  • Home remedies for cold sores
  • Should you pop a cold sore?

Cold sore treatments

It isn’t possible to completely cure cold sores – that is, to remove the virus from your body – but you can help to speed up the healing process or minimize your symptoms.

Here are some of the ways you can help heal a cold sore or relieve your symptoms:

  • Over-the-counter creams. Soothing, topical creams can help reduce the pain caused by your cold sore. You can usually pick them up over the counter at your local drugstore [1]. Abreva treats cold sores/fever blisters on the face or lips, may help to shorten healing time and duration of symptoms such as tingling, pain, burning, and/or itching.
  • Prescription drugs. A virus causes cold sores, so your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to help heal your cold sore faster than with no treatment[1].
  • Cold sore patches: Discrete hydrocolloid gel patches create a moist environment to support the natural healing process, protect from contamination and helps to reduce scabbing, [1].
  • Pain killers. Won’t help speed up the healing of your cold sore, but could help to relieve some of the pain and stinging[1].

What’s best for cold sore?

What’s best for your cold sore will usually depend on your personal preference or the severity of your problem.

Cold sore patches offer discreet care, which is ideal if you have social plans you’d rather not cancel[4].

Can I put a plaster / patch on a cold sore?

Using a specialized cold sore plaster or patch to keep your sore covered and protected is fine, but a standard plaster isn’t recommended[5].

A cold sore patch like one with hydrocolloid technology, will protect the cold sore blister while helping to support a moist environment that’s essential to the healing process[4].

Mederma® Cold Sore Discreet Healing Patch

  • Helps heal cold sore faster
  • Helps reduce scab formation and contamination
  • Hydrocolloid gel technology

Buy today

Home remedies for cold sores

You can care for most cold sores at home with a few simple techniques. Remember, not all home remedies for cold sores are scientifically proven to help. Here are some of the more common ones:


Applying a cold compress to the sore can help numb the pain. Avoid putting ice directly onto your skin as that could damage it[1]. Instead, wrap the ice in a clean, dry cloth or towel before applying.

Aloe vera gel

Research has shown that aloe vera gel may help fight viruses, including herpes simplex, which causes cold sores [1]. Aloe vera gel is also commonly used to soothe sunburn, so it may help ease the pain of your cold sore [1] or related cracked lips.

Lemon balm

Studies have shown that lemon balm extract can help speed up the healing of cold sores [1].

Tea tree oil

Research has shown that applying tea-tree oil could help speed up the healing of a cold sore [1].

Kanuka honey

Studies show that medical-grade kanuka honey was as effective for healing cold sores as creams [6].

Wash your hands

Clean your hands with warm water and soap before applying topical treatments to reduce your risk of infection [7].

Vitamin C and vitamin E

Both vitamins C and E have been shown to help fight cold sores [1]. You could try:

  • Increasing the level of these vitamins in your diet
  • Taking supplements alongside a healthy diet
  • Using topical creams containing the right vitamins.


Should you “pop” a cold sore?

You shouldn’t try to open your cold sore, pick at it or even touch it as it could interrupt the healing process [8], which may lead to several problems, such as:

  • Recurring cold sores: Cold sores are highly contagious [8]. Popping the blister could release the fluid from within and cause the virus to spread to other patches of skin [8]. It also increases the risk of spreading the virus to other people [8].
  • New infections: An open sore allows other viruses, bacteria, and fungi to get inside your skin and cause more problems [6]. The more infections you have, the slower your recovery is likely to be, which will only make your cold sore visible for longer [8].
  • Scarring: Popping cold sores could make them more prone to scarring, which could leave a permanent mark on your face [6]. If left alone, most cold sores won’t scar at all [8].
  • Increased pain: Cold sores can be painful enough but popping them could cause further irritation and make the pain worse – especially if it gets infected [8].

If you have a compromised immune system or an underlying condition, you should avoid popping a cold sore to keep your risk of infection to a minimum [8].




You can manage both the cold sore outbreak and the resulting scab to help reduce both the physical impact of a cold sore and the length of time it is visible – through patches and creams.


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