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20 Natural Remedies for a Cold Sore

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is a type of plant that has long been used to treat cold sores, thanks to its antiviral properties. According to those that use the remedy, lemon balm can help to reduce the redness and swelling associated with cold sores and might even lengthen the time between flare ups. 

To use lemon balm, look for a lip balm that contains at least 1% of it in the ingredient list. If you have access to lemon balm plants, you could even create your own paste or compress directly from them. 



Even something as simple as ice can help provide some relief for cold sores--especially when it comes to the pain and inflammation associated with them. 

Pretty much anything cold would work for this remedy, but a cold compress or a simple Ziploc bag of ice would probably be easiest. Simply apply the ice to the affected area until the pain and swelling begin to minimize. 


Aloe Vera

The soothing coolness of aloe vera gel can really help with a particularly painful cold sore. And while more research needs to be done, some studies show that aloe can also help in preventing the return of cold sores. 

Aloe vera gel is incredibly simple to find and use. Many stores will have it for sale in the health or beauty section, and you've just got to apply a little to your cold sore to experience its effects. 


Lysine Supplements

Lysine is an amino acid that some people think can help treat and prevent cold sores. And while it's not a common thing people know of, it's both safe and inexpensive. 

You can purchase lysine as an oral supplement or a topical cream, and both may be helpful for managing your cold sores. 


Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly won't make your cold sore disappear any faster, but it can help make the process of dealing with one a little less miserable. In addition to hydrating the cracked skin that surrounds a cold sore, petroleum jelly can also help create a barrier between your blister and any irritants in the outside world. 

To use petroleum jelly, simply apply a little directly to the surface of your cold sore. You won't need a ton to experience its effects, but it can be useful to reapply throughout the day. 


Licorice Root

Licorice root has been shown to have antiviral properties, which means that people sometimes turn to it to treat cold sores. But before you reach for the candy jar, some bad news--a topical cream with licorice root in it is probably more effective than eating it. 

Like many of the topical remedies for cold sores, you've simply got to apply a little of the licorice root at the problem area. 



It's time to move your cornstarch from the pantry to the medicine cabinet. It's been shown to help neutralize the pH of a cold sore, which can help reduce the length of an outbreak. 

A simple paste made of cornstarch and a little water is probably your best bet. Simply mix it up and apply it to your cold sore. 


Orange Juice

Orange juice, or any other good source of vitamin C, is a good way to keep your immune system strong and healthy. And while it might not have a direct effect on cold sores, a healthy immune system means that you'll be able to deal with them more quickly and effectively when they do show up. 

And best of all--there's no shortage of ways to incorporate orange juice or other high-vitamin C foods into your diet! 


Red Wine

First, the good news--red wine has been shown to decrease the duration of cold sores and the likelihood of passing it on to someone else. Now for the bad news--these effects don't come from drinking it. I'll give you some time to put away your wine glasses and crushed dreams. 

Instead, we see the beneficial effects of red wine the best when its applied topically to a cold sore. We don't know who would have thought to do this first, but we're glad they did! 


Vanilla Extract

It keeps our baked goods smelling delicious, but did you also know that vanilla extract can also help interrupt the life cycle of a cold sore and keep it from erupting? But there's nothing really magical about the vanilla--it has more to do with the fact that pure vanilla extract is at least 35% alcohol, which can help to kill germs and viruses. 

If you think that a cold sore might be coming on, apply pure vanilla extract to the problem area a few times per day. You might just save yourself a little pain and annoyance down the road! 


Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a popular treatment for cold sores because of its ability to fight off bacteria, viruses, and other germs. 

Make sure you dilute the apple cider vinegar with water when using it to treat a cold sore, though. It’s too intense and can seriously irritate your skin if not diluted. Apply once or twice each day until the cold sore is gone. 


Tea Tree Oil

Some people love the way tea tree oil smells. If you are one of those people, then it could be your cold sore remedy of choice. 

Research shows that tea tree oil fights off the herpes simplex virus by drying out the sore. You will want to dilute the oil according to the instructions before applying it to the infected area. 



Research shows that honey is actually just as effective as anti-viral creams when it comes to healing cold sores. Honey is known for helping wounds and skin injuries heal due to its antiviral properties. 

Put honey on the cold sore at least twice a day, and you will begin to notice the sore shrinking after 24 hours. 

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Essential Oils

Research shows that certain essential oils have compounds that help treat cold sores. The best essential oils to treat cold sores are lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, and chamomile oil. 

Lavender oil can decrease pain and inflammation. Eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory properties, and chamomile oil interrupts the absorption of the virus. Be sure to only apply the oils topically to the cold sore. 


Witch Hazel

You may already have witch hazel in your medicine cabinet, but if you don’t you can easily find it at your local pharmacy. 

A dab of witch hazel on a cold sore can ease irritation. It also has a drying effect on the sore, which will help it heal quickly.


Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a household essential. Hydrogen peroxide can be used in so many different ways around the house. It's certainly known for its healing properties, and is the perfect natural remedy to get rid of those pesky cold sores. 

Disinfecting the cold sore with hydrogen peroxide will prevent bacterial infection and dry out the sore. The cleaner the sore is, the better chance you have of getting that pesky cold sore to heal quicker and without getting worse. 


Garlic Clove

Garlic is both antiviral and antiseptic, making it a safe home remedy for cold sores. And on the plus side, most people have a few cloves in their pantry. 

This is a simple home remedy to get rid of those pesky cold sores without having to spend much money. All you need is a small garlic clove, crush it, and then apply it to the irritated area.

(Image via Unsplash)

Vitamin E Oil

The benefits of Vitamin E oil are practically endless. Vitamin E oil has anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe the inflammation and pain associated with cold sores. 

Dab a bit of the oil on the cold sore and let it dry. You can apply the oil to the sore multiple times a day. 


Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has hundreds of uses and fighting off cold sores is one of its specialties. Coconut oil has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Rub a bit of melted coconut oil on the irritated area as soon as you feel the cold sore start forming. You can also take one to three tablespoons a day internally, too. For best results, use organic, unprocessed coconut oil.

(Image via Unsplash)

Baking Soda

Most people have baking soda sitting on a shelf in the kitchen, so this remedy is at least worth a shot. 

Mix a small amount of baking soda with enough water to create a paste. Apply the paste directly to the cold sore, and then allow it to dry. Once the paste is dry let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse. Repeat every day until the cold sore disappears – usually about 5 days.