The most significant of all cold sore causes is the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Statistics show that this virus affects between 60% and 95% of individuals over the age of 10 around the world. Additional data provided by the official U.S. National Library of Medicine website explains that there are two distinct forms of HSV. Type 1 HSV results in cold sores, while type 2 causes genital herpes. Our main focus will be oral herpes, also known as cold sores. Instead of searching for the best cold sore medicine at your local pharmacy, you can either wait 3-4 weeks for it to pass on its own or try home remedies for cold sores. Our team has researched the most effective ingredients for speeding up the healing process, which you can learn more about below.
Use these home remedies for cold sores to get natural relief.
One of the all-time best home remedies for cold sores is vinegar. Due to its acidic nature, vinegar attacks the virus causing the cold sores by placing it is a hazardous environment. In addition to this, vinegar reduces the inflammation and allows the wound to heal naturally. You can use almost any type of vinegar for cold sores, from white vinegar to apple cider vinegar.
- Pour 1 teaspoon of vinegar into a cup.
- Dip a Q-tip in the vinegar.
- Dab the vinegar on the cold sore.
- Repeat 4-5 times during the first days after you get a cold sore.
2. Aloe Vera
The gel from aloe vera leaves is one of the most soothing natural substances for irritated skin, from cold sores to eczema. Aloe vera gel contains tannins, enzymes and amino acids, among other healing compounds. These lead to wonderful anti-inflammatory properties and antibacterial benefits. You can extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf or use organic pressed aloe vera gel.
- Apply ½ teaspoon of aloe vera gel to the cold sore with the help of a Q-tip.
- Allow the aloe vera gel to sink in; don’t wipe it off.
- Repeat 3-4 times throughout the day.
3. Ice & Petroleum Jelly
Ice really is your go-to remedy for cold sores when they just appear. An ice pack or a cold sores cool compress greatly reduces inflammation and the pain associated with these blisters. Ice also acts a mild anesthetic so you can no longer feel the discomfort while the cold sores heal. After applying ice and numbing the area, it’s best to add a coat of petroleum jelly for antibacterial protection.
- Wrap 2-3 ice cubes in a thin, clean towel.
- Press the ice pack gently against your cold sore.
- Keep it there until the area is numb.
- Remove the compress and dab on petroleum jelly to cover the cold sore.
- Repeat every 1-3 hours or as needed.
* Do not apply ice to the cold sore if it has broken, only if it’s still in the first stage.
4. Vanilla Extract
Genuine vanilla extract contains alcohol, an excellent antibacterial agent. It is one of the top home remedies for cold sores beause it is hard for the HSV to thrive in an alochol-based environment. This ingredient is readily available and should be applied as soon as you feel the cold sore developing.
- Dab a cotton swab in ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
- Apply it on the cold sore and press for 1-2 minutes.
- Repeat up to 4 times a day to relieve the cold sore.
5. Whole Milk
If you’re wondering how to stop a cold sore when you feel it coming on, whole milk might be the best answer for you. Whole milk, as well as other chilled dairy products like yogurt, is rich in immunoglobulins antibodies and works from the first cold sore stages. Moreover, whole milk contains lysine, an active ingredient that plays a major role in combatting cold sores and that we’ll talk more about below.
- Dip a cotton ball in 1 tablespoon of cold, whole milk.
- Apply the soaked cotton ball to the cold sore, gently pressing.
- Remove after 3-4 minutes.
- Repeat the process 4-5 times a day.
6. Hydrogen Peroxide
We all know that hydrogen peroxide can treat wounds like there’s no tomorrow. Even though it might sting when it comes into contact with lesions, hydrogen peroxide is a strong antiseptic and one of the most trustworthy home remedies for cold sores. It also contains antifungal and antibacterial properties that directly attack the virus causing your cold sore.
- Drench a cotton pad in 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide.
- Place it on the cold sore for 5 minutes, keeping your mouth firmly shut so none gets inside.
- Rinse carefully with cool water at the end.
Garlic is rich in kyolic and allicin, two essential compounds for fighting bacteria. Furthermore, garlic helps reduce swelling and inflammation, as well as the pain that often comes with cold sores. You can also use garlic for preventing these blisters, thanks to its high antioxidant content.
- Slice 1 clove of garlic in half.
- Apply one half of the clove directly on the affected area.
- Make a garlic paste as an alternative. Crush 3-4 cloves of fresh garlic finely, using a mortar and pestle.
- Apply the paste on the cold sore with the help of a cotton pad.
- Leave it on for 10-15 minutes before gently washing off.
- Repeat daily for the first cold sore stages.
8. Tea Tree Oil & Olive Oil
Tea tree oil is an exceptional source of terpinen and cineole, two constituents that give it antimicrobial, antiseptic and antibacterial benefits. However, it is not recommended to use tea tree oil for cold sores on its own. It can be mixed with olive oil, an ingredient even Harvard Medical School attests for its anti-inflammatory properties. Olive oil also contains plenty of phenolic compounds – like tyrosol, hydroxytrosol or oleuropein – which all have antioxidant benefits.
- Combine 1 teaspoon each of tea tree oil and olive oil. Use more if necessary, while maintaining equal amounts.
- Dip a cotton swab in the oil mixture and apply directly on the cold sore.
- Apply 2-3 times a day to get the antiseptic benefits the ingredients offer.
Studies show that honey (kanuka) was successful in a series of cold sore clinical trials. As one of the most effective home remedies for cold sores, honey works through antibacterial properties that tackle the virus. We recommend using organic honey to ensure that you’re reaping its benefits.
- Dab a Q-tip in a bit of honey.
- Apply the honey to your cold sore.
- Leave it on, without licking your lips.
- Apply 2-3 times a day for the best impact.
10. Lemon Balm
The University of Maryland Medical Center informs us that case studies with patients that used lemon balm for cold sores had results in just 2 days. It acts by reducing inflammation and irritated skin that come with cold sores. Moreover, lemon balm helps prevent future cases of cold sores. One of the reasons is that lemon balm contains terpenes, compounds that provide antiviral benefits.
- Use a cotton pad or swab to apply lemon balm to the cold sore.
- Do this up to 3 times daily.
- Boost the effects by drinking lemon balm tea while you suffer from the cold sore. Use ¼ teaspoon of lemon balm for every cup of tea you want to drink.
11. Peppermint Oil
Research proves that peppermint oil and other species of the Lamiaceae family help treat cold sores. Peppermint oil can not only treat external sores, but also a cold sore inside mouth (canker sore). This might be thanks to the menthol in peppermint oil, the active ingredient with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Clean your cold sore with the help of cool water.
- Moisten a Q-tip and pour 2-3 drops of peppermint oil on it.
- Apply it to the cold sore twice a day for 4-5 days.
12. Licorice Root
Licorice root contains glycyrrhizic acid, an antiviral and anti-inflammatory substance that can have an amazing impact on painful cold sores. You can make licorice root cream or drink licorice tea to treat cold sores. Ideally, combine both methods for benefits all around.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of licorice root powder with ½ teaspoon of water. Use 2 teaspoons of petroleum jelly, if available.
- Stir the ingredients well and coat the cold sore with it.
- Allow the mixture to sink in over 3-4 hours or while you sleep.
- Brew tea by adding 1 teaspoon of licorice root powder to 1 cup of hot water.
- Apply the ointment and drink the tea daily, if possible.
13. Witch Hazel
Antiseptic and astringent properties are what recommend witch hazel as one of the home remedies for cold sores you should try. This ingredient has been used for years in traditional medicine, thanks to the positive results it provides.
- Prepare 1 teaspoon of witch hazel, the equivalent of 5 milliliters.
- Dip a Q-tip in the solution.
- Apply with care to the cold sore and leave it on.
- Do this 1-2 times a day.
Some home remedies for cold sores can already be found in your kitchen. Cornstarch is one of them, as it soothes pain and reduces itchiness. It works by neutralizing the pH of the cold sore and promoting an alkaline environment to eliminate the virus.
- Combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 1 teaspoon of water.
- Mix the two ingredients thoroughly, until you get a paste-like substance.
- Apply to your cold sore prior to going to sleep.
- Rinse with cool water when you wake up.
- Repeat on a nightly basis.
15. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is yet another home remedy for cold sores supported by research. In this case, studies back up the anti-inflammatory properties of linalool and linalyl acetate, the two active ingredients in lavender oil. These compounds help reduce inflammation, relieve pain and start the healing process.
- Pour 4-5 drops of lavender oil on a sterile cotton ball.
- Press it against the cold sore without applying too much pressure.
- Repeat 2-3 times throughout the day for 3-4 days.
16. Sage & Rhubarb
Why purchase a cold sore cream when you can make one at home? Sage and rhubarb are two fantastic ingredients to make the ultimate natural cold sore ointment. In fact, studies support that this combination can work as well as antibiotics for treating cold sores.
- Combine 23 milligrams per gram each of sage and rhubarb extract.
- Apply the mixture topically to your cold sore.
- Repeat daily for the results you desire.
As one of the reliable home remedies for cold sores, chamomile oil or chamomile tea aids in reducing inflammation. Also, the bisabolol and flavonoids in chamomile provide antiseptic benefits that are essential for treating cold sores naturally.
- Use 3-4 drops of chamomile oil on a cotton ball.
- Brew 1 cup of chamomile tea with 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile and 1 cup of water as an alternative. Dip a cotton pad in the tea.
- Apply directly to the cold sore, regardless of the method.
- Keep it on for 3-4 minutes. Do not rinse afterwards.
- Repeat daily until the cold sore subsides.
Lysine is an amino acid that can be found in foods like chicken, salmon, eggs, chickpeas or tuna, to name a few. Their effectiveness for cold sores has been closely studied in the past. This substance isn’t actually one of the home remedies for cold sores that you can apply directly, but rather a supplement recommended for those who get them often. If you experience cold sores over 3 times annually, you should consider lysine supplements.
- Consume 500 milligrams of lysine a day in the form of supplements if you tend to get cold sores.
- Take 3,000 milligrams a day if you are undergoing an outbreak.
- Speak to your doctor about this supplement before taking it.
- Take 300 mg of Echinacea capsules up to 4 times daily.
- Drink 1 cup of Echinacea tea a day when experiencing a cold sore.
- Consult your doctor prior to consuming Echinacea supplements.
In the end, these home remedies for cold sores must be repeated as described to work. As we explained, cold sores are the result of a virus. Consequently, you can’t eliminate the virus in a matter of minutes. However, if you apply these natural remedies as explained, you have high chances of healing faster.
What’s your go-to cold sore remedy? Let us know in a comment below?
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