Remedies for Cold Sores

by Stephen Adams

Remedies for Cold Sores

Cold sores are viciously painful and painfully embarrassing. Caused by the herpes simplex virus, they usually pop up on the lips. Although it’s not as common, the fluid-filled blisters can appear in the roof of your mouth, on your gums, or in your nostrils. The first sign of a potential breakout is tingling or itching.

Whether it’s one blister or a cluster, symptoms of these angry red cold sores can be treated with home remedies, but they cannot be cured. Let’s explore several home remedies that have worked for others. You may have to experiment with two or three to find what works for you. You may also look into natural remedies for cold sores.

Herbal Therapy

Lemon balm

Lemon balm

Studies have shown lemon balm reduces swelling and redness in about 2-5 days. The flowers and leaves of this aromatic plant contain antiviral and antibacterial components. You can get a topical ointment at your health food store or online.

If you prefer mixing your own medicine, get lemon balm leaves at your health food store (or grow your own) and make a wash from tea. Cut up about 2-3 teaspoons of dried leaves and pour 1/2 cup boiling water over them. Let the tea steep about 20 minutes and strain. After cooling, apply tea with a soft clean cloth by dabbing on the cold sore. Repeat 3-4 times during the day.

Hyssop is a lesser-known herb in the US, but it was referred to in the Bible as an antiseptic. Because it restrains the growth of the herpes simplex virus, you might try hyssop if you have chronic recurring flare-ups.

You can buy the oil, or a blend of the essential oils hyssop, geranium and lavender. Apply a few drops of oil with a cotton swab to the affected area.

Licorice encourages production of interferon, the body’s natural antiviral properties. Studies show licorice fights the herpes simplex virus, both genital and cold sores. Get powdered licorice at your health food store and sprinkle on the affected area.

Studies have shown that Marjoram prevents the growth of the herpes simplex virus. You can either sprinkle the powdered form of the herb on cold sores or get it in tincture form and dab on affected areas.

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Ice Cube or Hydrotherapy

Once you are aware of the signs of an emerging cold sore, you can treat it before an eruption. Just rub an ice cube over the affected area, three times daily, in 10 minute increments. If you catch the cold sore soon enough, you may be able to prevent a flare-up. If you have already experienced a breakout, ice will numb the pain.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree

Tea tree, New Zealand

This essential oil is antibacterial and antiviral. With the first sign of a cold sore, put tea tree oil on a cotton swab and apply to the affected area 3-4 times daily. Tea tree oil is available in supermarkets, drug stores and health food stores. Be mindful, tea tree oil is toxic when taken internally. It might burn upon application. Dilute with water if you have sensitive skin.


Be prepared for garlic to burn when you apply it to a cold sore, but it is a really powerful anti-inflammatory. Just crush garlic cloves into a paste-like consistency. Apply it to your cold sores. Rinse the area in after a few minutes.


Two to three cold sores annually are considered a recurring case. You may benefit from lysine, an amino acid that counteracts arginine. The herpes simplex virus depends on arginine to thrive. Experts recommend two 500 mg lysine tablets with each meal, during outbreaks. After the cold sore heals, take one 500 mg lysine supplement, each meal, for prevention.



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