Have a tingling feeling in your lip? A new bunch of blisters may be set to erupt.
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are painful outbreaks that usually appear around the lips, nose, and chin.
The condition is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and is highly contagious, especially if the blisters are oozing fluid. However, the virus does not always cause sores and may sometimes stay dormant permanently. The virus spreads through skin-to-skin contact, and oral sex can spread genital herpes to the mouth area. (1)
Factors like hormonal changes in the body (especially during menstruation), fever, fatigue, emotional stress, skin trauma and excess sun exposure may also reactivate the virus, thus contributing to an outbreak of sores.
- Ways to Treat Cold Sore Naturally
- Method 1: Use Acetone
- Method 2: Use Hydrogen Peroxide
- Method 3: Use L-Lysine
- Method 4: Use Hand Sanitizer
- Method 5: Use Rubbing Alcohol
- Method 6: Use Tea Tree Oil
- Method 7: Use Peppermint Oil
- Method 8: Use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- Method 9: Use an Ice Compress
- Method 10: Use Garlic
- Tips to keep in mind
Ways to Treat Cold Sore Naturally
Cold sores usually go away on their own within a week or so. They may burst, ooze out fluid and crust over in a span of time. However, they may be extremely annoying and terrifying to look at. And there is definitely no one-day cure to get rid of them. (2)
Nevertheless, you can use some simple home cures to ease the discomfort, make them disappear more quickly and reduce the duration of an outbreak.
Here are 10 simple home remedies that can heal cold sores overnight.
Method 1: Use Acetone
Acetone, or nail polish remover, is one of the most powerful and easy remedies for treating cold sores at home. It helps to dry out the cold sores overnight.
Things you’ll need:
- Acetone (nail polish remover)
Single-Step Treatment: Dab acetone on the cold sore
- Dip a cotton swab in nail polish remover.
- Gently apply it on your cold sore for quick relief.
Repeat this remedy 2 times daily until it heals completely.
Method 2: Use Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide contains antiseptic and antiviral properties that help reduce inflammation and target the root cause of cold sores – the viral infection. It helps dry up, disinfect and heal the sores. (3)
Things you’ll need:
- 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide
Single-Step Treatment: Apply hydrogen peroxide
- Dip and soak a cotton swab in a small amount of 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide.
- Apply it directly on the affected area and hold for 5 minutes for instant relief.
- Rinse your face gently with cold water.
Do this twice a day until you achieve desired results.
Hydrogen peroxide may cause a burning or stinging sensation on your skin, but that’s okay. Do not worry as this shall subside soon.
Method 3: Use L-Lysine
L-lysine is an amino acid that works on the underlying cause of cold sores – herpes simplex virus. It helps reduce the occurrence, severity and healing time for the viral infection.
While l-lysine is generally harmless, excess consumption can lead to increased absorption of calcium in the body, thus affecting your health. Thus, if you are suffering from cholesterol or triglyceride issues or cardiovascular disease, consult your doctor before using l-lysine.
- It is recommended to take 1,000 milligrams of l-lysine 3 times daily. This can either be through supplements or by consuming foods that are rich in l-lysine like vegetables, legumes, dairy, fish, turkey and chicken.
Method 4: Use Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizers are great disinfectants that help fight and kill the virus that leads to cold sores. It also helps dry up and quickly heal the sores.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply hand sanitizer daily
- Squeeze a small amount of hand sanitizer on a cotton ball.
- Apply it directly on the affected area to prevent spreading the virus and promote quick healing.
Do this at least twice daily until your cold sore heals completely.
Method 5: Use Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is an effective solution that helps heal cold sores by drying them out. It also helps decrease the risk of bacterial contamination, thus reducing the duration of a cold sore breakout.
Things you’ll need:
- Rubbing alcohol (drying agent)
Single-Step Treatment: Dab rubbing alcohol daily
- Dip a cotton swab in a small amount of rubbing alcohol. Make sure you use a 70 percent solution, readily available at drug stores.
- Apply it directly on the affected area for immediate relief.
Repeat this twice daily until you see a difference.
Method 6: Use Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has exceptional antiseptic, antifungal and antibiotic properties that help in treating and healing cold sores. Research studies have shown that its antiviral properties work exceptionally well against HSV 1 outbreaks, so this versatile option is something worth considering. (5)
Things you’ll need:
- Tea tree oil (accelerates the healing process)
Single-Step Treatment: Dab the oil on the cold sore
- Pour a small amount of tea tree oil on a cotton swab.
- Apply it directly on the affected area for quick healing.
- Let the oil evaporate naturally.
Do this twice a day until your cold sore heals completely.
Method 7: Use Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil contains amazing antiviral constituents that combat both HSV-1 and HSV-2 (cold sore-causing viruses) and thus helps in healing them.
Things you’ll need:
- Peppermint oil (natural disinfectant)
Single-Step Treatment: Dab the oil on the affected area
- First, rinse the cold sore and surrounding area with water.
- Pour a little peppermint oil on a cotton swab.
- Apply it directly on the affected area.
Do this twice daily until you completely get rid of your cold sore.
Method 8: Use Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the oldest and most effective remedies for cold sores. Its antibacterial, antiseptic and healing properties help kill the virus that causes the sores and simultaneously balances the pH level of your skin while drying out the blisters.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply ACV on the cold sore
- Soak a cotton ball in ACV. Apple Cider Vinegar helps fight the virus causing a cold sore.
- Apply it directly on the affected area for instant relief. Hold for 15 minutes.
Direct application of ACV may cause a stinging sensation on the skin, but do not worry. This shall subside eventually with time.
For better results, you can mix a small amount of lemon juice in ACV and apply the mixture on the affected skin.
Do this 3 times a day for a few days.
Method 9: Use an Ice Compress
Applying an ice compress is an amazing technique to soothe and relieve cold sores. It helps reduce inflammation, itching and prickly sensations on the skin due to the spreading of the virus.
Single-Step Treatment: Wrap ice cubes and apply
- Put some ice cubes in a towel or cotton cloth and bundle it up to form a compress.
- Apply the compress over the affected area for quick results.
- Keep shifting and do not keep the ice pack in the same position for more than 5 minutes.
Repeat 3 times a day for several days.
Method 10: Use Garlic
Garlic contains kyolic, a compound that possesses antiviral properties that help reduce swelling and speed up the healing process of the cold sores.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply crushed garlic twice a day
- Peel and crush some garlic cloves to form a paste.
- Apply this directly on the sore. Garlic helps reduce swelling and speeds up healing.
- Leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off.
Repeat at least twice a day for a week.
Alternatively, you can just slice a fresh garlic clove and hold it against the sore for 5 to 10 minutes.
Tips to keep in mind
- Load up on foods rich in vitamins E and C to get rid of cold sores. While vitamin C boosts the body’s immune system, vitamin E relieves irritation and pain from cold sores. Berries, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, nuts, whole grains, avocados, and leafy greens are a few examples of foods rich in these vitamins.
- Lower the pH level of your body by cutting down on high-glycemic foods like potatoes, bread, pasta and other grains.
- Ensure that you are getting adequate amounts of alkalizing minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium from your diet or supplements.
- Reduce your intake of high-fructose and processed sugars like that in canned drinks as well as other artificial sweeteners.
- Stress is one of the major causes behind frequent outbreaks of cold sores, so avoid stress or find ways to manage it.
- Herpes Simplex | Genital Herpes | Herpes Simplex 1. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/herpessimplex.html. Published November 2, 2018.
- Fatahzadeh M, Schwartz RA. Human herpes simplex virus infections: epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and management. Journal of American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17939933. Published November 2007.
- Hayashi K, Hooper LC, Detrick B, Hooks JJ. Hydrogen Peroxide and Myeloperoxidase Released From Activated Neutrophils (pmn) Inhibit HSV-1 Growth. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2372501. Published April 17, 2010.
- Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of ... Clinical Microbiology Review. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/. Published January 2006.
Summary of How to Get Rid of Cold Sore