Cold Sore Remedies That May Actually Work

Cold Sore Remedies That May Actually Work


Cold sores can be painful and difficult to treat.  Medication is expensive and not guaranteed to work, and outbreaks can be contagious which puts others at risk.  Considering that around 90% of the global population carries the virus that causes cold sores, it’s important to know about some treatment options that may ease symptoms and speed up the treatment process.  Let’s take a look at a few remedies that have been known to work on some people, and maybe they can help you as well. 

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla extract seems to be a healing agent in part because of the high-alcohol content in good products.  Somehow it interacts with some compounds in the vanilla or through the fermentation process and helps to soothe cold sores.  Just dab a bit on a cotton ball, put it on the sore and let it soak in for a few minutes.

Peppermint Oil

Rinse your cold sore with some fresh water to moisten it up and remove some of the residue around the area.  Then, dab a cotton swab in some water before dunking it into peppermint oil.  This will help to reduce the stinging that you will feel if you use plain oil or extract alone.  Swab it over the affected area and let it soak for a minute before rinsing again.  Some of the compounds in peppermint oil are thought to kill viruses that are on the surface of the skin, which is exactly what happens with an exposed cold sore.  This may help to speed the healing process.

Cornstarch Paste

Cornstarch won’t kill the virus, but it can be a very effective soothing agent because it neutralizes the pH levels in the affected tissues.  Simply mix some cornstarch with some water to make a paste and apply it to the cold sore.  Let it rest overnight and wash it off in the morning.  You can also apply it during the daytime, but it will leave a pasty and white appearance.  However, the trade-off may be less pain while the sore runs its course.

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel is a well known natural remedy for a wide-range of skin conditions.  It can also help to soothe cold sores.  All you need to do is apply the liquid form of the plant directly onto the sore and allow it to soak in.  Repeat every few hours until symptoms subside.


Aloe Vera gel is a very popular plant remedy for a host of ailments, particularly when it comes to soothing cuts, bruises, insect bites and rashes.  It is thought to work on cold sores due to its antibiotic properties.  Bacteria often gets into exposed skin that the virus causes, and this can lead to a greater degree of discomfort, inflammation and prolong healing times.  The best way to use aloe is to get it from the plant directly.  Break off a small piece of the plant and apply the oil to the affected area.  It will soothe the burning and irritation and hopefully speed up the healing process.  Repeat as necessary.


Many sunscreen products contain moisturizers and vitamins that heal and soothe the skin.  Try to apply some to your lips as well as the skin.  It will protect the lips and reduce the chances of sores forming in the first place.  Keep in mind that this remedy is meant more as a preventive measure than a treatment.

Other practical solutions include applying petroleum jelly to the sore which will keep it moist and minimize tearing, frequent washing, using hydrogen peroxide or even taking supplements of Vitamin A or E.  Unfortunately, there is no single solution that will work for everyone every time. Remember that cold sores are viral outbreaks, so antibiotic ointments won’t eliminate the source of the problem. However, these examples from a long list of remedies can give you plenty of options to try out in order to speed up the healing process and reduce symptoms.

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