If you’ve ever had a cold sore, also known as a fever blister, you’re not alone. About 90% of people get a cold sore at least once in their life. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, an infection that is extremely contagious and can cause cold sore symptoms to spread to other parts of the body. Conventional cold sore treatments may include herbal-lysine and pharmaceutical antiviral creams. But if you want to steer clear of all of that, home remedies for cold sores can also help heal painful cold sore symptoms. Cold sore home remedies include certain supplements as well as other natural treatments. Get ready to find the perfect home remedy for a cold sore.
Cold Sore Symptoms
- Tingling and itching around the lips
- Small fluid-filled blisters along the lips, nose or cheeks
- Oozing and crusting of small blisters when they burst
- A burning sensation around the lips
Cold Sore VS Canker Sore
Many people have a difficult time deciphering between a cold sore and a canker sore. While the two are similar in some regards, there are also distinct differences between the two. For example, canker sores:
- Appears inside the mouth—a cold sore is on the outside, near the lips.
- Aren’t contagious—cold sores are, at least until they crust over and heal
- Are round and white or yellow with a red border—cold sores appear as red until they burst
- Are caused by immune-suppressing disorders, auto-inflammatory disorders, or autoimmune disorders—cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus.
- Are triggered by such things as accidentally biting the cheek, sensitivity to food, dental work injury, changes in hormones, or stress—cold sores, meanwhile, are usually triggered by stress or sunlight
Home Remedies for Cold Sores
1. Immune-Boosting Foods
A weakened immune system can make you more susceptible to developing cold sores. Filling your diet with foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals can act as a home remedy for a cold sore by strengthening the immune system. It’s also an excellent prevention method. Add plenty of probiotics, fruits and vegetables to your diet to keep your immune system strong.
2. Vitamin E
Vitamin E acts as a cold sore treatment to help soothe the skin and relieve pain. It helps repair damaged skin while reducing inflammation and providing the skin with antioxidants. Take Vitamin E as an oral capsule for cold sores treatment, or add vitamin E-rich foods to your diet such as spinach, sweet potatoes, avocados, sunflower seeds and olive oil. (2) You can also apply topical vitamin E oil directly to the cold sore. Saturate a cotton ball in vitamin E oil, then hold it to the cold sore for 15 minutes. Repeat this 1 to 3 times a day, depending on the severity of the cold sore. If you don’t have a bottle of vitamin E oil, you can puncture the liquid capsules and use the oil inside of it topically.
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C works as a cold sore treatment to help your body fight against harmful infections. Take a vitamin C capsule as a home remedy for a cold sore, or fill your diet with Vitamin-C rich foods such as oranges, red peppers, kale, grapefruit and kiwi. If you’re prone to outbreaks, be sure to keep a steady supply of vitamin C in your diet, either through food or supplements, to help prevent cold sores.
4. Aloe Vera
Cold sore home remedies also include aloe vera gel. Aloe vera contains antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and enzymes that promote healing and fight off infection. Furthermore, aloe vera gel will offer you instant relief from burning, itching, or other physical discomfort associated with your cold sore. Use aloe vera gel as a cold sores treatment to speed the healing process and reduce inflammation. (3)
You may have already heard that taking zinc can help shorten the life of a cold. It’s also fantastic for the treatment and prevention of cold sores. A study published in Alternative Therapies for Health and Medicine showed that patients who were treated with a zinc oxide/glycine cream within 24 hours of experiencing signs of a cold sore noticed a significantly shorter duration of cold sore lesions. (4) If you don’t have zinc oxide/glycine cream available, you can still use zinc to treat as well as prevent cold sores. Take zinc supplements or add zinc-rich foods to your diet such as pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, chickpeas and cashews.
6. Peppermint Essential Oil
Home remedies for cold sores include peppermint essential oil. Peppermint oil provides antiviral activity against the herpes simplex virus. (5) Additionally, peppermint oil will help relieve pain and reduce sensitivity. Mix the oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and apply it to the affected area. Applying the peppermint oil directly to the cold sore could cause further irritation, so you’ll want to be sure to use it with a carrier oil.
7. Vanilla Oil or Extract
Vanilla isn’t just for cooking! Cold sore home remedies like vanilla oil or vanilla extract can help reduce inflammation and pain associated with cold sores. Vanilla will also help fight the infection and speed up healing time. Apply the oil or extract to a cotton ball and hold it on the affected area for 1-2 minutes, four times per day until the cold sore heals. (6) Vanilla Co2 is the best quality available. It’s pricey, but it’s also effective. Alternatively, you can soak vanilla beans in a carrier oil or alcohol–this works as well as vanilla Co2.
8. A New Toothbrush
Cold sore home remedies won’t be as effective if you’re using a toothbrush that contains the infection. As soon as you feel a cold sore coming on, throw your toothbrush away and get a new one. You should also replace your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold, flu, or some similar illness. While you can’t re-catch the same cold, you increase the likelihood of spreading the germs around your household if you hold onto the same germ-infested toothbrush.
Home remedies for cold sores include a cold compress. Icing the affected area can help provide relief from pain, swelling and inflammation related to cold sores. Apply ice or a cold compress to the area for 10 minutes, several times a day.
10. Echinacea Tea
Home remedies for cold sores include echinacea tea. Echinacea tea helps boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Drink 1-2 cups per day as part of cold sore home remedies. (7) This is another cold sore remedy that is also great for fighting off and preventing colds.