Treat Cold Sores

How to treat cold sores

Written by: WellCome Care Editorial Team

Treating Cold Sores

Experiencing cold sores? Or do you feel tingling of your lips that commonly occurs before a breakout? Below are some proven strategies to quickly get you on the road to recovery.

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are small blisters around your mouth as a result of the Herpes simplex virus. Episodes of the cold sores last no longer than 2 weeks. Cold sores cannot be cured. However, early treatment can help relieve some symptoms and lead to faster recovery.

Treatment Options

Cold sores typically take about 1 to 3 weeks on their own.
If you opt for treatment you may want to consider antiviral medications. Antiviral medications may help speed the healing process, but are usually not recommended for otherwise healthy people. Also, they need to be started within 3 days of seeing the first blister.

  • Antiviral topical ointments (such as acyclovir and penciclovir)
  • Antiviral oral medications (such as acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir)

Over-the-Counter Options

Over-the-counter topical anesthetics or anti-inflammatory agents may help with symptoms.

The following cold sore ointments have been shown to shorten the healing time of a cold sore:

  • Docosanol (Abreva)
  • Zilactin have been shown to shorten the healing time of a cold sore.

At the first sign of symptoms, apply them to the affected skin as directed on the package.

Other Soothing Options:

To ease the discomfort of a cold sore:

  • Try other cold sore remedies. Some over-the-counter preparations contain a drying agent, such as alcohol, that may speed healing.
  • Balms & Creams: Protect your lips from the sun with a zinc oxide cream or lip balm with sunblock. If your lips become dry, apply a moisturizing cream.
  • Apply a cool compress: Ice or a cool, damp cloth may reduce redness, help remove crusting and promote healing. Place ice on the sores 3 times a day for 20 minutes each time.
  • Apply pain-relieving creams: Over-the-counter creams with numbing agents like lidocaine or benzocaine may offer temporary pain relief.

Hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol: Both can be used to keep cold sores clean.

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