Carefree M.D. Blog

How to Get Rid of Cold Sores Effectively

Carefree MD

March 23, 2021 | Blog

Some call them cold sores, others call them fever blisters. One thing is certain about these pesky little spots: they’re painful and unsightly. If you’re suffering from cold sores, you must be itching for them to leave. Follow these simple tricks on how to get rid of cold sores quickly to help with that.

What Is a Cold Sore?

Cold sores are a group of tiny blisters on your lips. They can be very painful and uncomfortable. Yet, they’re quite common. Around 90% of people have had a cold sore in their lives.

You can usually feel a cold sore developing if you know the warning signs to look out for. If you know the symptoms of a cold sore, you can prepare for them better.

Symptoms of a Cold Sore

There are usually three stages of a cold sore. And how fast a cold sore heals depends on your immune system and your treatment.

  1. Tingling and itching: A lot of people describe a tingling or itching sensation around their lips a day before a small, hard, painful spot develops.
  2. Blisters: Small blisters develop alongside the lips and the nose.
  3. Bursting and crusting: Left untreated, the blisters can burst or merge. This stage of a cold sore is especially painful.

In some cases, you may also experience:

  • Fever
  • Painful gums
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Swollen lymph nodes

What Are the Causes of Cold Sores?

Cold sores are a viral infection. The culprit behind cold sores is the Type 1 Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1) (not the same as genital herpes). The problem with this virus is that not everyone who gets it develops symptoms. Only about 20-40% of people develop blisters after infection. 

The symptoms of a cold sore are especially bad if this is the first time you’ve had the virus. That’s because as you heal, your body develops antibodies. And the next time you catch it, you may not even see any symptoms.

HSV spreads with physical contact. And while you may have caught it with a kiss, you could have also been infected by the virus through a shared object. Specifically, sharing lipstick, razors, and water bottles increase your chances of getting a cold sore.

How to Get Rid of Cold Sores With Home Remedies

For most people, home remedies are an effective way to get rid of cold sores. However, there’s insufficient evidence in the efficacy of these remedies. Still, you may find that they help. And as long as you do it safely, it’s worth a try. Apply the following foods and ingredients on your cold sore to improve your symptoms.

Keep in mind that the cold sore on your lip can still be infectious. Make sure you wash and sanitize your hands each time you apply home remedies.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Many people swear by using apple cider vinegar for getting rid of cold sores. However, full-strength apple cider vinegar can cause harm to the blisters. Instead, be sure to dilute it with water before you apply it to your cold sore.

Tea Tree Oil

Unlike apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil smells really nice. Although research on its effectiveness against cold sores is limited, it may be a more pleasant option for most. Make sure you dilute it with water before you apply.


Honey has a lot of medical benefits. One of these is treating cold sores. Although applying honey may not get rid of the cold sore quickly, it will definitely calm down any skin irritation. Just make sure you don’t eat it before you can apply it...

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm has antiviral properties. So, it’s a great home remedy to get rid of cold sores. Just make sure you buy lip balm that has lemon balm to enjoy its benefits.


Although ice doesn’t get rid of cold sores, it can help irritated and inflamed skin. Applying ice to your skin directly is dangerous. Instead, you should wrap ice, frozen peas, or an ice packet in a kitchen towel to minimize the freezing of your skin.

How to Get Rid of Cold Sores With Medication

Home remedies work for some, but not for all. If you want to effectively and quickly get rid of cold sores, consider getting medication. Usually, these are creams and ointments that you apply topically on your cold sore. 

Over-the-Counter Medication for Cold Sores

An over-the-counter antiviral ointment could go a long way in getting rid of your cold sore quickly. Plus, you can buy a tube of docosanol (Abreva) at your local pharmacy. This will reduce the symptoms of your cold sore.

And if you’re experiencing a lot of pain or fever due to the cold sore, you can also buy over-the-counter pain medication to put you at ease.

Prescription Medications for Cold Sores

Sometimes even over-the-counter medication won’t help with a cold sore. These medicines are a lot more effective and they work faster. Due to the strength of these medications, you need to get a prescription for these from a doctor.

The doctor will evaluate your cold sore, pre-existing conditions, and lifestyle before recommending an appropriate solution. Most commonly, the doctor will prescribe you one of these medications:

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax): oral medication or topical cream
  • Famciclovir: oral medication
  • Penciclovir (Denavir): topical cream
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex): oral medication

What NOT to Do With a Cold Sore

It’s hard to imagine that this painful cold sore could get any worse. But it definitely can. A cold sore could become more painful or infected. Even worse, you may infect other people with it too. If you have a cold sore, avoid doing these activities at any cost:

  • Don’t touch it: Avoid touching the cold sore unnecessarily. You’ll only irritate your skin. Every time you touch it, make sure you wash your hands after. Touching your infection and then touching an object could inadvertently infect someone else.
  • Don’t pop or pick at it: The fluid-filled blisters are easy to pop. But, resist the temptation to mess with them. The open wound of a popped blister could easily get infected.
  • Don’t scrub it: You may think that you can wash the infection away. But, using a scrub of a facial exfoliant will only irritate your skin and flare up the inflammation.
  • Don’t kiss anyone: Kissing anyone when you have a cold sore can easily infect loved ones. Avoid giving kisses of any kind. Even to someone’s cheek or head.
  • Don’t have oral sex: Any sexual activity could give your partner an infection. Although type 1 and type 2 HSV are different types of herpes, it’s best to avoid any kind of physical contact when you have blisters.
  • Don’t eat acidic foods: Tomatoes and lemons are highly acidic. They’ll burn your cold sores if you eat them. It’s best to avoid eating them if you can.

When to See a Doctor With a Cold Sore

If you know how to get rid of cold sores, they can disappear quickly. However, if they don’t disappear after two weeks, or you keep having cold sores, you should definitely contact a doctor. But, you don’t have to wait that long.

Today, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home to talk to a doctor about your cold sores. Instead, you can book an online consultation appointment with Carefree MD

Our board-certified doctors can offer you quality medical advice on treating your cold sore. All you need to talk to a doctor online is a Carefree MD Card. 

Sign up for a Carefree MD Card and talk to a doctor online!



The Carefree MD blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed doctor or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree MD Card is not insurance and Carefree MD is not an insurance provider.