Cold Sore Treatments Using Stuff You Have at Home
Easy Home Remedies
Today's a great day for a cold sore—not! If you're feeling that burning or tingling sensation on your lip and can't get to the doctor or the store right away, read on for some treatments to help prevent cold sores from developing using things you probably already have in your home. If your cold sore has already blistered, then skip down to the bottom part of this article for ways to care for cold sores using items you likely already own.
Treat this article as you would advice from a friend. Try one or several of the tips below. Do what feels right for you. These tips are things that have worked for and are recommended by ordinary people.
Cold sores generally clear up on their own within 5-14 days. However, the Mayo Clinic recommends you seek medical advice if:
- Your immune system is compromised by a pre-existing health condition.
- Your cold sores do not clear up within two weeks.
- You are a frequent cold sore sufferer.
- Your eyes become irritated with your cold sore outbreak.
Treat the Tingle as Soon as Possible: What to Do When You Feel a Cold Sore Coming on
Of course, the best cold sore treatment involves maintaining your immune system so you're not vulnerable to outbreaks. Unfortunately, if you feel a cold sore coming on, the maintenance ship has sailed, and you either missed the boat or got tossed overboard at some point. I'll cover maintenance and prevention in another article. Don't worry—all is not lost! There are a number of effective home remedies to help prevent or shorten the appearance of Mt. Vesuvius on your lip.
For best results, begin treating your cold sore as soon as you even think you feel a persistent tingle or burning on an area of your lip or nose. As with many other illnesses, early detection and treatment are key to success.
When you first feel the onset of a cold sore:
- Ice—Immediately ice the area for as long as you can tolerate the cold for up to 10-15 minutes, maximum. Allow the area to warm up, then repeat—doing this several times may prevent your cold sore from erupting. If you still experience an outbreak, early icing may help limit tissue damage from your cold sore. If your lip is irritated or dried out from the ice, apply liquid Vitamin E on the area. If you have Vitamin E capsules, you can pierce one and use the liquid inside.
- Rubbing alcohol—As an alternative to ice, apply rubbing alcohol to the tingling area with a cotton swab several times a day. Hold the swab on the tingling area until it feels "hot." Do not re-use the cotton swab!
- Hands off—Avoid touching the tingling spot with your hands and wash your hands immediately before and after applying medication or treatment. You can spread the virus through kissing or by touching the area, and the contact can further irritate the sore.
- Aloe vera—Rub juice from an aloe vera plant on the tingling area. Aloe gel also works. Aloe may prevent the sore from growing.
- Toothpaste—Apply toothpaste (not gel) on the affected area.
- Stay healthy—Maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep. Make sure you're getting your recommended daily allowance of Vitamins A and B. In addition, about 30 mg of Zinc and 2000-3000 mg of Lysine daily can help get rid of cold sores.
- Maybe nail polish remover—Only use this tip with extreme caution and never on sensitive, blistered, or open skin because it may cause scarring. Some people apply fingernail polish remover to their cold sore. Use a clean cotton swab to apply and discard the swab after use. The nail polish remover will have a strong odor and may burn. Try to leave it on for 10 minutes to reduce swelling and soreness. Clean the nail polish remover off your lip and apply Nyquil on the area to soothe the remaining discomfort.
Get Rid of a Cold Sore Fast: What to Do When It Won't Go Down
Once your cold sore has blistered, the following are a few home remedies to help send it packing. Some of the tips above may be helpful as well. Using ice packs and applying toothpaste to the sore can minimize the duration of the blister. Obviously, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep and taking precautions not to spread your cold sore virus apply throughout the blistering phase as well.
- Tea bags—Pour boiling water over an ordinary tea bag and steep for several minutes. The cheapest black tea bags you can find should work fine. Allow the tea bag to cool, then hold it against your cold sore. Repeat a few times a day to aid in healing the sore.
- Whole milk—Use a whole milk compress at room temperature on the cold sore. Wash the area afterward.
- Table salt—Pick up table salt with your finger or a moist cotton swab and press into the sore twice daily for about a minute at a time.
- Deodorant—At night, apply gel antiperspirant, or deodorant, to the sore. The antiperspirant will dry the sore while the deodorant is an antibacterial and will help prevent further infection.
- Mud mask—Use a mud-mask product at night to help dry the sore. During the day, mix the mud-mask with a little lipstick to camouflage the sore and prevent oozing.
- Honey or cornstarch—Apply honey or a cornstarch paste to the sore.
- Witch hazel or spirit of camphor—Apply witch hazel or spirit of camphor to the sore.
- Petroleum jelly or lip balm—Use petroleum jelly or unflavored lip balm with at least SPF 15 to protect your cold sore and your lips from the sun and wind. This may also help prevent the blister from forming a scab, which will reduce the length of the outbreak. Lip balms containing lemon extract have also been said to help. You may want to use a clean finger or a cotton swab to apply lip balm to your cold sore to avoid spreading the virus to another part of your mouth. Be especially careful not to break any skin or rupture the blister.
- New toothbrush—Be careful not to touch or irritate your cold sore when brushing your teeth. To help prevent reinfection, change your toothbrush once the blister is gone.
- Stress relief—Many people believe stress is a trigger for cold sores. If you feel especially stressed just before or during a cold sore outbreak, make sure you are taking good care of yourself and deploy your favorite stress-busting techniques.
As a long-time cold sore sufferer myself, I have never had a cold sore come at a convenient time. Try one or a few of the tips above when you feel that dreaded tingling sensation on your lip. Maybe it's late at night, the kids are asleep, and your spouse is out of town, making a trip to a doctor, the pharmacy, or a store just out of the question. If you need to use supplies already around the house, each of these tips has proven effective for some people, and chances are, one of them will work for you.
- Cold Sore—Mayo Clinic
This overview covers the symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention of the common lip sore. It also mentions an over-the-counter medication, Abreva.
- Cold Sores—Web MD
This site provides information about cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters, and their home and medical treatments.
- Cold Sores (Mouth Herpes)—HC Support Network
This site answers a lot of questions you may have about what causes cold sores and their recurrence, what distinguishes them from similar conditions, and how to treat them.