How to Quickly Heal from a Cold Sore and Avoid Scarring

Don't put off treating a cold sore, as that is one of the worst things you can do. Initiating treatment quickly can shorten the duration of your illness. As soon as you feel that telltale tingle, begin treating the area with a topical antiviral medication.

How to begin

Think about picking up an OTC antiviral cream. Docosanol (Abreva) may be familiar to you as a product you've seen in tubes at the pharmacy. Many people use this over-the-counter remedy until their cold sores have healed.

According to a 2001 study, this product may have a similar recovery time to others.

Choices for Prescriptions

You don't have to settle for an over-the-counter skin cream. Antiviral medication available by prescription is another option. Consult your medical professional to determine which of the following might work for you:

To hasten the recovery process, experts advise using these drugs as soon as possible. If your cold sore develops a crust and scab, you can try moisturizing cream on the scab.

Although treatment can potentially speed up recovery, it may only do so marginally.

A 2018 meta-analysis concluded that the pain associated with cold sores could be alleviated by acyclovir, penciclovir, or docosanol, but only "marginally," or by less than 24 hours.

You can choose from a variety of complementary methods for treating a cold sore.

Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence to recommend using these alternative treatments for cold sores on a regular basis. Before using them, you and your doctor should talk, and they shouldn't take the place of standard care.

Be careful when trying out new skin products. Some people have reported adverse effects from these therapies, including irritation and allergic contact dermatitis.

For instance, it is common knowledge that propolis, which will be discussed further down, can trigger allergic contact dermatitis in some people. It is recommended to consult a dermatologist before beginning this treatment.

Apply it to a small area of skin first to see how your body reacts. The inner forearm is a good place to do this. A patch test is what you need to do.

Vinegar from apple presses

2019 studies show that apple cider vinegar can be effective against bacteria, viruses, and other germs, so many are interested in using it as a treatment.

However, using undiluted apple cider vinegar directly on a cold sore is dangerous because it can cause severe skin irritation. It should be diluted before use, and use should be limited to once or twice daily.

Oils that are absolutely necessary

Essential oils, which are concentrated oils containing plant compounds, have been shown in studies to have inhibitory effects against the herpes simplex virus, the virus responsible for cold sores.

There isn't a ton of data, but one study from 2015 suggests that some essential oils may help heal and prevent cold sores by slowing or preventing viral replication of the herpes virus.

Essential oils eucalyptus, tea tree, and thyme have antiviral effects against the herpes simplex virus, per that study and an earlier one from 2007.

  • Essential oil of rosemary
  • Peppermint oil,
  • oil of tea tree
  • Oil of clove essential
  • Oil of cinnamon bark
  • Pure Basil Oil
  • Oil of essential ginger
  • Oil extracted from thyme
  • Oil extracted from hyssop
  • Essential oil of sandalwood
  • Oil extracted from the Zataria multiflora
  • Pure oil of eucalyptus from the cassia tree
  • The Pure Oil of Artemisia kermanensis

Sadly, many studies on essential oils and HSV-1 are out of date. Lab research conducted in 2003 found that peppermint oil was effective against HSV-1 and HSV-2, while a 2001 study found that tea tree oil exhibited some antiviral effects that could help fight off the herpes simplex virus.

Essential oils like ginger, thyme, hyssop, and sandalwood were found to be effective against drug-resistant strains of the virus in a 2007 study.

The studies have caveats, and the evidence might be anecdotal. Monkey, rather than human, herpes cells were used in both studies. Furthermore, they were performed in a laboratory dish or a test tube.

The antiviral effects of this oil in humans need to be confirmed in larger studies.

Essential oils, like apple cider vinegar, should be diluted in a carrier oil before being dabbed on the skin, and should be applied as soon as the tingle of a developing cold sore is felt.

Essential oils have been shown to have health benefits, but the FDA does not oversee or regulate their quality or purity. Essential oils can have a variety of uses, but before you start using them, it's best to consult a doctor and learn as much as possible about the quality of the brand's products. A patch test is recommended before using any new essential oil.

Medicinal properties of Kanuka honey

Kanuka honey, which comes from the manuka tree in New Zealand, may be useful for treating cold sores, according to a 2018 study. Honey has a long history of aiding in the healing of wounds and other skin injuries.

In fact, a medical-grade version of this honey appeared to be as effective at treating cold sores as acyclovir in a large randomized clinical trial.


Propolis, another by-product of bees, shows promise in treating skin lesions and wounds. New evidence from 2016 suggests that propolis' antiviral properties may make it useful for speeding up the recovery time from cold sores.

Lemon balm

An extract of lemon balm, a member of the mint family, may have an inhibitory effect against the HSV virus that causes cold sores, according to a study from 2008. The authors of the study note that more clinical trials are needed before lemon balm can be used to treat HSV.

According to a case study published in 2020, using a gel made of lemon balm and St. Unlike over-the-counter cold sore medications, the herbal combination of St. John's Wort, lavender, licorice, and Siberian ginseng was both effective and acted quickly.

However, more extensive research is required to fully assess the therapeutic benefits of this treatment.

According to a review of the scientific literature published in 2015, lemon balm is also available in capsule form and is used for various other therapeutic purposes.


According to a meta-analysis published in 2017, people who took lysine had fewer cold sore outbreaks. These studies have shortcomings, and there is some conflicting evidence.

Lysine, for instance, was not recommended at any specific dose or form. The "subjective experience" of disease seems to improve, however, at doses higher than 3 grams daily.

In addition, a 2015 study concluded that lysine use did not reduce the risk of developing a cold sore, but it certainly couldn't hurt to give it a shot.

This necessary amino acid can be applied topically or taken orally.

Lysine, like many other over-the-counter (OTC) oral supplements, is subject to lax FDA oversight. You should consult a doctor before starting any new oral supplement. New research from 2018 suggests that some dietary supplements may contain unsafe levels of pharmaceutical ingredients.

It can be difficult to resist the urge to touch or pick at a cold sore.

Don't do these things if you can help it; they'll just slow down your recovery.

  • Abrasion an open wound If you touch the open blister and then don't wash your hands, you could potentially infect other people. Poking or prodding at the sore can also spread bacteria from your hands.
  • The sore should be popped. A cold sore isn't the same thing as a zit. It won't shrink no matter how much you squeeze it or try to pop it. Squeezing the virus could cause it to release onto your skin. It's possible that you could unwittingly infect someone else with the virus.
  • Scratch the wound Without realizing it, you might find yourself picking at the scab. But avoid touching it as much as possible. After a few days, the scab will fall off on its own. It could leave a scar if you pick at it.
  • Thoroughly scrub Even though it would be great if you could just wash a cold sore away, your already sensitive skin will only become more so if you scrub vigorously.
  • Experiment with Oral Sex Stay away from mouth-to-mouth contact with partners while you still have a blister. You should hold off on sexual activity until the weather improves.
  • Consume items high in acid Acidic foods, such as citrus fruits and tomatoes, can irritate and even burn a cold sore if they come into contact with it. You may want to take a break from them and eat more boring food for a while.

Cold sores typically clear up without treatment in a week or two. If your cold sore lasts longer than two weeks, you should probably see a doctor.

Another good reason to see a doctor is if you experience cold sores frequently (more than a few times a year). An antiviral drug available only with a doctor's prescription could help your condition.

Reasons to visit the doctor besides these:

  • Excruciating agony
  • multiple cold sores
  • infection of the eyelids
  • blisters that have started to appear in other places

Cracked or bleeding skin is a common symptom of eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. According to the National Eczema Association, complications can arise if HSV-1 spreads into these crevices.

If a cold sore appears on your lip, don't feel bad about it. You are not alone in experiencing a cold sore; in fact, millions of people suffer from them every year.

While you wait, do what you can to ensure its well-being. You can choose from a wide variety of potential treatments. If the sore is painful, you can use an over-the-counter pain reliever and a cold, wet compress to manage the inflammation.

That cold sore will soon be a distant memory.

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