Do’s and Don’ts for fighting cold sores

You know the signs, that tell-tale little tingling sensation that signals you’re in for a real treat, a cold sore is on the way. Zovirax and Abreva are widely used as a first line of defence and can be successful at keeping cold sores at bay, but need to be applied at the tingling stage. Not so useful if they appear in the morning as most of mine do. When you wake at night to that itching niggling feeling do you always leap out of bed and hunt for the cold sore cream? No, you don’t, you roll over and go back to sleep and pray for a miracle.

When you wake up the next day with the beginnings of one of these little lovelies you know it’s time to take action. Once a cold sore has erupted and begun its blistery miserable life it’s no fun at all and they can be really painful, but there are lots of things you can do to shorten its life span, and to prevent them coming back.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and once contracted can lie dormant in nerve cells for years. Triggers include being run down, getting stressed, menstrual cycle, exposure to direct sunlight and even certain foods. There is no cure for cold sores. If you’ve had one, chances are you’ll get them again, but there are loads of natural remedies and actions you can take to minimise attacks.

Here are my Do’s and Don’ts for surviving, minimising and banishing those cold sores for good!

Do’s

  • Eat food that’s rich in Lysine e.g. Dairy products, potatoes, legumes (peas, lentils, beans) meat (specifically red meat, pork, and poultry), cheese (particularly parmesan), certain fish (such as cod and sardines), nuts, eggs, soyabeans (particularly tofu, isolated soy protein, and defatted soyabean flour), spirulina, and fenugreek seed and brewer’s yeast all contain lysine.
  • Take L-Lysine supplements – This amino acid supplement hinders the growth of the virus so can really aid healing and stop spreading.
  • Use a separate towel and face cloth – For the simple reason that cold sores spread so easily, if you or anyone else in the family has a cold sore, make sure everyone else knows not to use their towel to prevent contamination.
  • Use an anaesthetic ointment to numb – It will help to alleviate the pain if you have a particularly bad bout
  • Take painkillers – They will just take the edge off the pain of your cold sore.
  • Get lots of rest – One of the key triggers is being run down so make sure you get good and regular sleep. Cold sores don’t like that!
  • Take vitamin supplements – Vitamin supplements such as zinc, vitamin E, B to help heal your skin.
  • Boost your immune system – Take Echinacea or other immune boosting supplements to help knock cold sore attacks on the head
  • Keep it moisturised – Simple vaseline or petroleum jelly will do the trick, but there are loads of cold sore and chapped lip creams. Keeping your cold sore moisturised will aid healing, but make sure you always wash your hands after application
  • Get plenty of exercise – Exercise bolsters the immune system so don’t hide away. Get out there and get some fresh air; it’s a really effective way to fight off stress.
  • Try a cold pack – Ice can help dull the pain so try a cold pack or compress to numb the discomfort.
  • Learn to combat and cope with stress – Try yoga, pilates or meditation as great stress busters to keep you on an even keel.
  • Protect your lips – Make sure you wear a good sun-screen lip balm in direct sunlight as this can trigger cold sores. In winter make sure you keep lips moist, use a lip balm. If lips do become chapped or sore it can be easier for the virus to take hold. Healthy lips will be less prone as they skin is stronger and more supple.

Don’ts

  • Eat foods rich in Arginine e.g. Chocolate, Cola, beer and peanuts
  • Eat salty acidic food – Crisps, lemon and similar foods will aggravate your cold sore.
  • Kiss or perform oral sex – Cold sores are extremely easy to spread and pass on through physical contact so don’t feel tempted.
  • Touch, scratch or pick it – Physical contact with these little blighters can encourage them to spread very easily so when you do treat it, wash your hands and then avoid contact.
  • Get it wet! – Cold sore scabs can be very fragile, so avoid licking it or getting it wet if you can. Don’t go swimming and try to keep it out of the water when you shower. This is almost impossible to acheive and is very frustrating.
  • Let it get you down – Cold sores can be really painful and miserable, so take it easy and be kind to yourself. Ignore them and pretend they aren’t there!
  • Wear make-up Avoid using lipstick as you could contaminate it with the virus.
  • Keep your toothbrush in the bathroom – Moisture prolongs the life of the cold sore virus to make sure you dry it out, keep it in the bedroom instead so any virus cells won’t survive and spread back onto your lips before it’s fully healed.

Herstat propolis cold sore care

Herstat propolis cold sore care


It’s good to see far more Do’s than Don’ts here, and as if that’s not enough for you to be going on with, here are some other natural remedies that I’ve gleaned from friends, family and fellow cold sore sufferers.

  • Zovirax - Available in most chemists this is the first line of defence when you feel tingling. It contains aciclovir which helps prevent the cold sore taking hold. Boots, Lloyds and other pharmacies often do their own brand which is much cheaper than Zovirax. Careful when you open these little tubes as you can end up with the half the contents spewing out when you only want a tiny bit. Abreva is also widely used to treat cold sores.
  • Propolis – Use a propolis based cold sore remedy such as Herstat, regular users report much faster healing and a reduction in pain. It tastes almost good enough to eat too.
  • Toothpaste – Dab some directly onto the cold sore. It dries them out!
  • Witch Hazel – Using cotton wool dab some onto the cold sore. Witch Hazel has natural healing qualities.
  • Corsodyl gel – Also available at the chemists. Not tried this one out yet.
  • Whisky – I didn’t discover whether this remedy involved application to the cold sore or drinking, or perhaps both. I’ll leave that up to you…
  • Colloidal Silver – Can also be dabbed onto the cold sore to aid healing. You can get this in most health food shops in liquid form and you can keep it in the fridge.
  • Eue de toillete – The alcohol dries up the cold sore but also stings!
  • Licorice – Make sure it’s real licorice and not flavoured.
  • Milk – Soak cotton wool in milk and dab onto the cold sore

Cold sores can also be triggered by food allergies so if you do keep getting recurrent cold sores start a food and symptoms diary and try to pin point what foods are causing it.

What are your cold sore remedies? What works for you to banish these little horrors? I usually give mine a name like Colin or Clary – bring in a bit of humour. Let em know I’m not bovvered. It usually does the trick!

Buy cold sore treatments online

If you want to see what LLysine looks like or check the names of cold sore treatments mentioned here, and even buy them online, visit the Buy Allergy Stuff page for some ideas.

Other cold sore blogs

There are about ten blogs here about cold sores. To see them all visit What allergy blogs about cold sores

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About Ruth

Ruth works freelance as a copywriter and writes the What Allergy blog to share information with people who have allergies, eczema, asthma and food intolerances. http://www.whatallergy.com was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She runs a support group for the Anaphylaxis Campaign and also writes regularly for Exchange, The National Eczema Society quarterly magazine.

Comments

  1. I’ve been getting cold sores for years (I’m 24) I’ve tried so many things; from l-Lysine (which didn’t help me) to abreva which doesn’t help either. I don’t have food allergies, but I do stress easily and I always know when I’ll get them (like I knew last night and I am now dealing with it.) Thankfully I get one a year (it used to be multiple a year), and they are always in the same place (upper lip, left side) there is always one large blister & a few little ones. I just found last year that using Lysterine (or any mouth wash with alcohol) really works at drying them out. I’ve done ice too, and that takes the swelling down which is great seeing as my lip always swells and tends to make me cancel any plans I originally had scheduled (like I had to today) and it makes me want to stay inside and talk to no one. I’m never ashamed of them, its just they always swell up half my top lip and make me talk funny (its like I’m talking around the sore). Another thing that seems to work for me is using Nail Polish Remover (I put it on a cotton ball and hold it there until the stinging goes away and then I wait 2-3 hrs and do it again). If I catch them before they break through nothing seems to help, but the alochol based & acetone based stuff really dries mine out. Sometimes if they are too big I wait a until the following day; pop the main large one and then use either listed above (or sometimes both together works).
    This may not work for everyone but it does for me. Now all I have to do is find a way to keep myself from getting too stressed.

    • Never tried nail polish remover but yes, I agree, once they are there they are hard to shift. So how to avoid stress? Now THAT is the question. I had one coming the other day, dabbed on tea tree and it has disappeared!

  2. I just got one yesterday, the last morning of a hens weekend. The brides wedding is this Saturday and I’m in the bridal party. Usually when I get cold sores (which isn’t very often) I get a needle and prick them. Then I get some ice and make it numb, and then get a used teabag and hold it on there until the sting goes away. This helps to burn it. Unfortunately this didn’t work this time round, instead it has spread to my chin and I am desperate to get rid of it before the wedding. I will try alissa’s method next, wish me luck!

  3. Unfortunately I have been getting these nasty and embarrassing things since I was very young. I could never find anything that seemed to work for me until recently. I dab some hydrogen peroxide on a cutip or a cotton and hold it to the cold sore for a few minutes. I noticed that the cold sore seemed to heal a lot faster and would diminish in size. Definetly the quickest remedy I have ever used trying to heal these things.

  4. I usually only get one and can stop it as soon as the bump occurs by applying ice as often as possible. The tiny bump hangs around but its easily covered and it doesn’t turn into a big ugly blister! At the moment I have the worst outbreak I’ve ever had, two big ones and some tiny ones around it, so red and crusty and in a different spot to usual. I’m so frustrated because I had my cold sore routine down and it worked so well, and then this happened. I tried everything to stop it in its tracks to no avail, it’s awful. My trigger is usually wine, chapped lips, or using Blistex but this time I have no idea!

  5. Mary Young says:

    I have one right now, but I run after it as soon as I have the tingling, applied ice, no sun, and change of diet has helped it not to break out into a big blister but a tiny one but yes its ugly and irritating, I have no idea what triggered it :(

  6. Hello. I usually get 2 a year and I agree with Alissa. I’m not overly embarrassed by them, just makes me not sleep the best and not want to do anything. Thanks for the info, above. I agree with it all. Only thing I can add is…be really fit and healthy. I have been a 1.5yrs without one once and that was because I was exercising a lot. Also, I know this doesn’t apply to all, but lifting weights really helps me. It is a amino acid and protein deficiency, if your muscles are demanding the amino acids to grow you should have less of a problem. Unfortunately we will always get them. NO medicine helps me at all. It usually takes 7-10 days to heal from the first sign but I am lucky that mine dont hurt at all.

    These are my main points: Eat healthy (go easy on that chocolate girls!), don’t drink too much and get wasted (this will leave your body run down and vulnerable), take Lysine supplements, put carmex or some lipbalm with spf on before and while you are in direct sunshine, and exercise…a lot. This will keep your coldsores away AND give you a better lifestyle! Good luck!

    • anthony says:

      i have neve gotten one i was feeling sick headache stomach hurts i just got some pills and cream i go to the gym a lot my doctor thinks i got it there i have been taking the medicine for well this is my third day and i still don’t feel right yet should i try to go to the gym or just rest for one more day

      • Just rest if it is making you feel too low. If your body is telling you it feels that low you should listen. Get some rest, early nights, good food, de-stress. Get some tea tree, LLysine and zap it. Good luck getting rid of it. I have one threatening me at the moment but so far keeping it at bay.

  7. anthony says:

    hi Ruth thank you very much for you opinion i am angry that the place i like the gym is where i got it i have had 7 back surgeries but never anything like this i hope your gets better soon

  8. Marissa says:

    Thanks for the tips! I was just laying in bed on my phone when I started to feel the tingling sensation and I was like oh no! So I quickly went to search up some remedies and tonight I’m trying the toothpaste one. I think mine was triggered by chapped lips because as of late my lips have been chapped badly and I have a problem with picking at the skin! Bad I know but this is my punishment, a cold sore! anyway I do hope it goes away I have plans this coming weekend with family and friends o the beach and I don’t want to stay home, Haha!

  9. Montana says:

    I have been getting cold soars since I was a kid, literally the worst covering my entire mouth or cheeks or chin. They are extremely painful and embarrassing. I attempt to stop the spread as soon as I feel the initial sting or tingle. I usually stick to using Abreva it works okay for me, I don’t find the medicines prescribed by my doctor work very well. I was in the sun all weekend and was sure to put sun screen on and re apply it continuously through out the day, I thought I escaped them… not the case I woke up this morning with them lining my entire bottom lip and one on my top lip. All I have on hand is the Abreva (am hoping it will stop them from spreading even more as well as swelling up). At this point I am at a loss I took L-lysine as well hoping something will do the trick. I have work all week and another trip planned this weekend ;/

    • The sneaky ones that come out at night are the worst… I hate those. Keep putting on abreva all the time. One thing I’ve noticed I do is to bite the tingly bit. I wonder if anyone else does that. Not such as to break the skin but before the sore has been formed, when it’s just swelling and sending you that warning I bite the area. Sometimes I think that sends it away. Keep zapping. I find tea tree the most useful as well as the acyclovir – in the UK we have zovirax. I am applying as we speak and praying it goes away. I know mine is triggered by alcohol and mistaken consumption of dairy. Guaranteed to start that tingling. Good luck with yours.

  10. Michaela says:

    I’ve had cold sores for as long as I can remember and they have progressively gotten worse as I’ve aged. I’m freshly turned 17 and I’ve been getting 2-3 outbreaks a month. And when I get the dreaded things, I don’t get a small one in the corner of my mouth where no one can see them.. I get atleast 2-5 and they spread up inside of my nose and down to my chin. Mine form in clusters and they are so painful and humiliating I can’t stand them. I got them on my prom last year and I was so upset I didn’t even want to go.. I take l-lysine every night before I go to bed and I’ve stopped eating anything salty or citric. Nothing ive tried works, abreva helps to get the sores to deflate from the swelling and relieve doesn’t help much either. I’ve tried almost everything and nothing seems to work.. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever get rid of these things..

    nd I’stopped eating everything that has to do with salt and citric acid.. but they just won’t stop. I hate them so much and nothing is helping.

    • Hi Michaela,

      My outbreaks are very similar to yours, multiple cold sores from chin to nose on a very regular basis. My doctor says it’s the worst case he has seen, lucky me!

      Anyway I just wanted to let you know that as I have aged, I am now 34, the outbreaks have lessened in frequency and how bad they are.

      It’s terrible to have to deal with but it will eventually start getting better!

      Glenna

    • Hey Ladies. I used to get horrible cold sores every month. I started taking calcium everyday because I read that a deficiency could lead to cold sores. So far the only time I feel one coming on is if I forget taking my calcium for a few weeks. When I feel the tingle coming on though if I take three tablets throughout the day it either doesn’t come out or will be much smaller. I take the Jamieson 500 mg Calcium with vitamin D.

      • Brilliant advice Sandi, I do also take vitamins and minerals with calcium and make sure I also eat a lot of foods with calcium (not dairy as I’m allergic). Maybe that is the key? And when I get then it’s often when I’m eating badly, not the calcium rich stuff, and also forgetting the supplements. You might be onto something there with the calcium, which you need vit d with to absorb.

    • I used to get them just as often as you do. I have an allergic reaction to abreva (if I put it on my lip without an outbreak my whole lip would erupt with an outbreak). I am now 33 and don’t get them as often. What helped….peppermint oil…dries them out real fast. (I pop them with a steril pin capture the fluid with a tissue so not to spread it and put on peppermint oil. Numbs and dries….and smells good). I also take a couple pills of acyclovir (prescribed by dr) since it’s an antiviral meant to deal with the herpies virus. If I catch it at the tingling part I take two Andover couple hours later and it won’t erupt but if I wake with it (which is most of the time) I take 3 a day and it heals quickly. When I got them 2 to 3 times a month when I was in my early 20s I took the pill daily for 6 months….now I only get a couple a year….and only when my lips get real dry. Hope that helps

  11. Valtrex and Abreva work great. I just got my annual cold sore today and using both these has helped stop it from getting worse. Lysine is also recommended. I will be using Lysine pill with breakfast and a probiotic to help fight my cold sore first thing in the morning.

  12. Ive just discovered Almonds trigger Cold Sore Outbreaks for me! I usually get them once a year maybe.. but this year starting in Feb-March i got one on my bottom lip.. just figured it was my yearly and it would go away!! but it never did up til a week ago X| ..once it cleared another popped right back up around the same area.. ugh. I started back tracking what Ive been doing or eating differently and the only thing i could think of was switching from reg Soy milk to Almond Milk.. so i cut it out.. and now my skin is completely clear and outbreak free.. yay!! so if having recurring problems.. may want to look at what you’re eating/drinking!!

    • I know food can trigger cold sore outbreaks but it’s hard pinning down which food does it. Well done for the detective work. Everyone should look at this though it’s hard to work out as you can be eating so many different foods each day. Alcohol does it for me :o(

  13. mike like says:

    I always get mine twice a year….and it makes me so depressed and it makes it worst and instead of going away, I got more outbreaks…thanks for sharing…

  14. I get cold sores EVERY year and they are the most annoying painful and ugly things mine get huge and nasty and I don’t want to do anything i will just say locked up in my room and not talk. The worst ones I got was in high school I got 4 at one time and they were all big and nasty and hurt so much I could barely sleep or eat and I missed 8 days of school and work cause of it. Never new what it was causing it but I started feeling the tingly sensation and new it was coming and the only thing I ate today that I almost never eat is chocolate this is the first time I’m having chocolate since my last cold sore and what do yah know?? I start getting my cold sore symptoms well I’m trying the toothpaste on it to nip it in the bud right away hopefully it works never tried this before.

    • That is bad news, sounds like chocolate triggers cold sores for you. I find tea tree oil, bergamot oil and Llysine tablets really help. As soon as I feel the tingle I also use Zovirax but on its own that’s not enough. How did you get on with toothpaste?

      • The toothpaste actual worked I had to do it about three different before the tingling actually went away so now it’s gone but I’m nervous it’s gonna come backup when I least expect it

    • I have mine every few months and it’s the most freaking annoying putrid thing ever. I guess I’m lucky I only have one and it’s to the right of my chin so I don’t touch it a lot. We’ll all keep waiting for the cure. They are working on it.

      • I have just discovered propolis which comes from bees. Amazing stuff. I swear it hurts less and heals faster. Try it, made by Herstat of A-Vogel

  15. You should only apply the propper medication to a cold sore and call your doctor to see if he or she can be of assistance. Do not apply toothpaste! No where on a bottle of toothpaste does it say “apply this product to cold sores”. You also shouldn’t pick at the sores. Apply the appropriate ammount of medication and let it heal.

    • HSV-1(the cold sore causing virus) is an extremely common virus spread through saliva. One can have HSV-1 without showing any symptoms. It is also possible to only have one cold sore outbreak without ever having another. Even though the virus is a common one I would still be cautious about it (when needed).

  16. You can always learn more about cold sores and the Herpes virus on educational websites.

  17. I have now noticed that I will get one if I drink alcohol. A couple days ago I hurt my back and I had some whiskey before I went to bed so I could sleep and woke up the next morning with one.
    Sometimes I use Liquid bandage to cover it, but right now I have it air drying. The only thing is this time I have some small red spots around the mouth that Are tingling a little bit. Hopefully Coridon will release their vaccine in a couple years.

    • Alyssa Davis says:

      Vaccine!? I would be so happy if they have one. I would be the happiest woman alive if I never had to get another one of these ugly/painful things ever again!! I’m sure we ALL will be!

      • Now a vaccine for cold sores – now you’re talking. I honestly think processed foods are so key for me. I have cut them out now for about two months and been totally tingle free. This includes a lot of freefrom processed foods. I am better with just fresh fruit, veg and home cooking. Try it if you dare and let me know how you get on.

  18. Oh my! I have never had or even seen such an outbreak on anyone in my life than what I have got right now. I can’t speak its so painful/big! I have 2 huge ones on my top lip and 3 massive ones all along my bottom lip- I look like I’ve had collagen to replicate the mouth of Cher!! Wah I need help, I’ve used them invisible patches which seems to have dried them out but ran out and they are expensive so had to switch to zovirax which now people are telling me was the wrong thing to do! Does dabbing alcohol/nail varnish remover etc work once they have erupted into huge yellow scabs?!

  19. Alyssa Davis says:

    I hate these things SO much! I felt the tingling yesterday & thought “SHIT!” Woke up this morning w/ the fucking thing…one big one two smaller. Normally I always get them in the same spot, on my upper right lip, but for the 1st time I got it on my lower lip, in the middle. Its very swollen and hurts, but not too bad. I start school tomorrow too… WORST time to get it too. They are just so embarrassing and make you feel so timid! I use abreva around 5 times a day and take Lysine 1,000mg. Any other suggestions!? I don’t like to try and hide it with make-up because the make-up is obviously going to be really bad for it….ahhhh this is the worst timing! Well hope everyone elses is getting better/better already! The only thing that really makes these suckers dissapear is TIME, unfortunately…when they are gone I get so excited….I just appreciate the fact my lips have no cold sore on them! I know you guys all know what I mean!

    • Hey alyssa,

      i KNOW what u feel.. myself, I am 24 started class Today, and was SO embarrased since I got one saturday morning.. I tried RELEEV it worked very well with me. Now, it is so small i even forget i have it ;) i get them once a year myself. And I feel as if everyone knows i have it!! grrrr.. I hope tmrw it will b GONE.. once and for all… (TILL NEXT YEAR)

      -Frankie-

  20. I have been getting them since i was a kid and I usually get 2 – 3 a year. However, for the past 8 months I didn’t have one until recently.. just 2 weeks ago. Worst part is as soon as that one went away another has just formed and it’s a bad one. Directly in the center of my bottom lip…. it’s nice and red and the scab makes it look worse. I’m currently at work hiding behind my desk. Everytime I get em I try to avoid people and eye contact and I do what I can with my lips to cover whatever I can so it’s not so noticeable. I’m guilty to say too that it gets me way down even though I know we should do our best to stay positive.

    I’m currently using Campho-Phenique to apply on my lips to help numb and dry it out and I’m also trying th teabag trick…. dried though. Not sure if I’m supposed to feel any sensations but I’ll do anything at this point. I have some aloe vera at home too so I can try that when I get back.

    It’s amazing… I usually get cold sores when I’m about to get sick but I never get sick. I guess that’s my punishment for never being sick… my body gives me cold sores instead. I rather get sick I think…. these things suuuuuuuuuck. =(

  21. I’ve been feeling the tingling on the top right corner of my lip. I put Abreva on every day and it prevented it from showing up.
    Then I wake up the other day and I have one in the middle of my bottom lip. WTH??? I wonder now if I would’ve put the Abreva all over and around my mouth if it wouldn’t have come up somewhere else on my face!

    • Also, even though I have this blister in the middle of my lower lip, I still feel the tingling on the right corner of my top lip!

    • I think the virus is there waiting. Make sure you boost your immune system and keep using abreva or tea tree oil even after tingling has stopped for a while. Maybe only put the abreva on the bit that tingles though and always wash hands. I know what you mean though, if it’s like the product we have here in the UK, you take off the cap and so much comes out of the tube that you don’t want to waste it. They do spread though so be very careful. If your lips are chapped the virus can spread too. Hope it goes soon.

      • Actually Ruth, if you read my post you’ll see that I said I’d been applying Abreva everyday to the tingling area and it prevented it from coming in that region, but it popped up in a different area. Also, even though it popped up in another area I still feel the tingling in the first region.

        • I have had that, it’s almost as if it’s desperate to get out and will do so at any cost. I put neat tea tree on mine and bergamot or an earl grey tea bag. Hope it goes quietly and quickly. Avoid cold sore feeding foods too, check the blog for tips

  22. I have a question … I’ve had to deal with these nasty little buggers before but this time it is the biggest and most painful one that I’ve ever experienced. This article is incredibly useful but I’m confuse as to one thing, it says that keeping it moist is a ‘Do’ but some of the comments talk about drying it out? are you suppose to dry and dry it out before you get the blisters? Keep it moist once the yellow color sets in or is it the other way around??? Help please!! ???

    • I found this online. Not sure if it helps.. I personally found that keeping it moist makes it bigger and last longer. I’ve been sticking with the drying it out. I think its supposed to be whatever works. :) goodluck

      Wiki how says dry wins
      http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-a-Cold-Sore-Fast

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-p-connelly-dds/cold-sores_b_1307654.html

      Last year, I posted that there were two schools of thought, and that my opinion was to do whatever worked for you. And I still stand by that, but I will say that in looking for answers online, it seems that the “moist” side has more medical clout behind it. (The Mayo Clinic endorses moist.)[1] I could not find any peer-reviewed or “name” information recommending dry, so I will have to throw my recommendation to keeping it moist, although there is probably an army of grandmothers out there who may disagree.

  23. I have suffered from cold sores my entire life, my first occurrence at age 7 or so but thankfully do not get them as often as an adult, but when I do it always looks like a case of Botox gone bad! So I first felt a tiny tiny bump in the center of my bottom lip at around 12:30am last night. I immediately took 2,000 mg of lysine and drank some water before going to sleep. I took accutane in 2009 and have used Carmex religiously since. So I applied some Carmex then fell asleep. It was just a tad more visible when I awoke at 7:00 for work so it gave me hope. As the day progressed I continued to take a 500mg of lysine every little bit and drink plenty of water and watch my moods and eating as I have learned from past experience that these things are ultimately what decides if they are gonna be big and mean or small and manageable. So I was feeling good until I began to get this horrible tingling in the right side of my lip where I am just recovering from a small pimple. Within hours you could see the tiny blisters beginning to form. So now I have one in the center moving down off my lip onto my skin and one big cluster forming on the right side as well. I have always used abreva or let it run it’s course..and one time used some Zovirax cream which I thought Made it worse so this time I turned to google for a new quick remedy.

    I kept see tea tree oil so I just purchased some at walgreens and waited for an hour to use it while I searched on Google for people that said it Made it worse, because that is the last thing I wanna do!!! I finally just NOW dabbed some TTO directly on the blisters with a qtip . It is still itchy and tingling, maybe a little milder than before but now I am terrified that it will make it worse. Has anyone used tea tree oil and had any bad experiences. I just wanna know what I’m in for if it is gonna be worse. My little boys birthday party is tomorrow :(

    I hate these things. I just wanna skip the next 10-12 days!! any responses would be greatly appreciated.. I’m very on edge about it and trying not to b!

    Also, does applying milk directly really work? 2% milk work?

  24. Well all of those remedies may or Kay not work, well my first time getting it, my whole left top of lip swelled up, and it wasn’t on my lip, it was on top, . I tried ice, and it took swelling down a little bit, but after I ice it (Placing the ice directly on the cold sore until the ice melts l i put something very natural on their, which is called african shea butter. It not only soothes the sting, itch or whatever irritation you may be having, but it heals the cold sore and brings it to a very small cold sore and it moistens it . This really works . Your not always supposed to dry it out, keep it moist, during the day i leave it open, i wash it with antibacterial Soap and let it get some air. And at night time before bed is when i apply The african shea butter . Dont bust it,because it can spread, and take longer to heal

  25. The doide laser at the dentist’s office (used to treat gingivitis, etc.) is a miracle treatment for cold sores! My 9 year-old daughter has been getting terrible outbreaks lately, and the dentist or hygenist will zap them with the laser and they dry up the next day! Of course the earlier, the better, but she had a cluster treated on Day 3 and they dried up immediately. The laser kills the virus immediately so it can heal. I’ve also started her on LLysine and lots of lip balm to try to prevent the outbreaks in the first place. If you google “laser” and “cold sore” you should find some good info about this treatment option.

    • Wow! I wonder if you can get that on the Nhs. Book in for a zap at first sign of blister. Or can you buy your own zapper? Very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Aimee Finlay says:

    Ive just got two coldsorea on either side of my lips and there so sore :( help pleasee what can i put on this asap !

    • Put some teatree oil onto them. Or Zovirax or abreeva,which really help some. If it’s sore ice it, then hold an earl grey teabag on it to dry it out. Get sleep, drink lots of water and read the list of dodos to avoid. Don’t feed the cold sore! Hope it goes soon.

  27. Hi i find that i dont get tell tale signs anymore they just appear as blisters i am currently on aciclovir 400mg tabs which i take for an out break and they help really well these are also used as preventors if you suffer from quite bad break outs often i use tea tree oil which helps to dry them out and if used early enough will keep them to a small size everything else ive tried doesnt help. My immune system isnt as it should be which doesnt help and i find the minute my lips get dry one will appear, dont ever put a needle in and pop as ive seen someone say otherwise you could cause an outbreak of impetigo,having oily or really dry skin will increase your chances of a coldsore. You can also speak with your gp to get a cream called fucidin and metrodonazole which are antibiotics used for the treatment of bacterial infections of the skin which i have found to work especially well when suffering a bad outbreak . Hope this info is of use especially if you have tried everything else.

    • Hi Gemma, thanks for sharing. I do pretty much what you do and mine do stay away more often now. I used to get so many. It is all about building up your immune system, planning to write more on this soon. My dr has never been that helpful but good advice there, may be worth a try if that cream works well. Don’t suffer in silence people. Until someone has had cold sore after cold sore they won’t understand how horrible they are. Goodbye cold sores.

  28. Virastop 2x is a great supplement to take to diminish time you have it and prevent it from happening. also viruses exist when you are low in zinc. get on a zinc regimen and take a little extra when you have a cold sore (be careful about zinc tho because too much is bad for your liver) – take in small doses.

  29. knot mouth says:

    Oil Of Oregano P73 will destroy cold sores before they can even form. You can get the extra strength or the regular formula. Glaze a few small drops across your lips and the virus won’t ever erupt on your lips. To kill the virus while in your mouth use the same oil soaked in a Q-Tip or piece of dental gauze and place inside of your cheek or on your gum line. Take olive leaf extract daily also to reduce the virus colonies. You can also use B-propolis(liquid alcohol based)to stop cold sores deep inside of your mouth. Big Pharma does not want you to know this information!

  30. I, of course, get this nasty cold sore the day I spend the day with my boyfriend. Looks like no physical contact what so ever for us. Thank you, Lord of the Cold Sores.

  31. I get the sores on my bottom lip. As soon as I feel the tingling I immediately try to kill it. No luck yet. I get them so bad. Within an hour my whole bottom lip has broke out. Not exaggerating. It’s bad. I can’t wear anything on my lips other than vazaline. I have only one thing that will help. Valtrex. I have to take it immediately or it spreads. With taking this I only get abou two or three. Within three days they are dried up and healing. Why do they spread so quickly and big ones? Maybe some of you ideas will help. They hurt so bad.

    • Hi Tiffany, yes I’ve had them like that too, they are so painful. Unless someone has had one they wouldn’t understand. I know how bad they can be. I reckon mine was being caused quite a bit by my diet, by cutting out processed foods and possibly keeping eggs to a minimum I haven’t had one for a while. Am I tempting fate? Teatree oil and bergamot really seem to help me and L-lysine capsules. Good luck! Though you do seem to have a handle on them – some people have them lasting for much longer.

  32. I started to experience these about 5 years ago. Mine usually pop up once every 3 months. The latest round i experienced started 3 days ago. Felt a numbness feeling on my lips and then i knew that the little buggers have come back for their quarterly visist!.lol (Something like hello we are back did you miss us ?). I think what triggered off the latest attack was the excessive amount of alcohol i drank a few days before, also spent > 4 hrs at the beach in direct sunlight the following day in hot weather, not to mention the nut mixture i consumed around the same time (Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews,peanuts). So i’m not exactly sure what triggered off my current outbreak. The alcohol, the nuts or the heat & sunlight ? I usually take lysine tablets about 8000mg per day only during outbreak times, plus some acyclovir too! Seems to be work and reduces healing time. i usually get mine on my bottom lip, one or 2 at most ! Had a date planned but i can’t go thanks to these little buggers!!

  33. They are such an eye sore I hate going work when having these buggers as I like to look fresh and clean but as time has gone on ove learnt to just ignore it the best I can my step kids who are 8 and 6 call it a crusty crab haha it makes me chuckle I don’t know how they come up with the name I use tea tree most the time only thing is it dose really dry your skin and leaves a white dried look hopefully it will be gone by the end of the week.

  34. Oh and I always seem to get mine on the right just under the bottom of my lip last year I had 3 in a month worst time ever it would just heal then bam more blisters appeared maybe one day there will be a simple injection to have them wiped out for good.

  35. Contradicting info… first you said to keep it moisturized, and later said it’s best to dry it out. Which is it?

    • I have done both and for me it’s best to let it dry out. If I moisturizer it then it oozes and spreads.

      • If I moisterize it then it just keeps rescabing and looks worse.

        • I agree, yes, cold sores need to dry out. The moisturise advice is really meant a) for lips in general, if you have chapped lips it’s easier for a cold sore to take hold. Keep your lips healthy and you will prevent some infections or lessen the severity. But for me, sometimes they are just so sore and painful that some moisture on them can soothe. I use aloe vera which also forms a protective barrier over the sore. Other products are out there and it depends on what helps you really. When they are hurting all the time and really throbbing, something on it can help, you can get some that numb the skin and others that heal. Try different things till you find what works for you.

    • Hi Joe, if it works for you better to just let it dry out totally then great. I find that using a numbing cream or other cold sore healing cream or also aloe vera helps, just makes it hurt a little less. If you can bear to have nothing to soothe it then try that. If it hurts like hell there are lots of creams and oitments out there that could really soothe an help it heal. By keep it dry I mainly mean don’t lick the sore or get it wet in the shower, swimming etc. Try to leave it alone. Easier said than done!

  36. I find which doctor soothing gel works we’ll with protection against infection and also healing it won’t moisturise it completely like vaseline would and always drys into the coldsore using at the moment as I’ve had a mammoth cold sore in the healing stage at the moment. Tea tree oil also helps dry it out.

  37. Last thanksgiving I ended up with my normal stressed caused cold sore. And my mom handed me calcium lactate pills and told me to take 2-3 a day. And within 3 days (way faster than normal) it had shrunk and was almost gone. I also used Listerine (the blue kind) to dry it out.

  38. Just spent quite a while reading all of this and I am happy to see that there is such detailed information about the herpes simplex that is cold sores.

    I never get cold sores so the lip abrasion I am battling now is very very alien to me.

    It was valentines day at work and all the staff were required to wear red lipstick (cheesy – I know) … Cut a long story short I ended up sharing my lipstick with 2 other staff members.

    The next morning I woke up with a swelling on the top left of my mouth that resembled a Ping pong ball! It is massive!!!

    Being the worry bag that I am I quickly took myself off to A+E thinking that normal cold sores do not reach this size.

    After telling the doctors my symptoms and the events of my night, they told me they had no idea what it could be and took blood for testing.

    Now I have a cluster of yellow scab on top of awful awful swelling and I have no idea what to do.

    I’m not to certain if it is indeed a cold sore … But I can not think of anything else!!

    How do I return my lip back to normal size ? How do I get rid of the yellow scab? There is a firm yellow scab now formed – would this be the right time to apply tea tree oil ?

    Sorry for the lengthy comment!!

    • I had a horrible sinking feeling that you might have caught a cold sore from one of the colleagues who borrowed your lippy… I hope not. Whatever it is though, I reckon ice it. Put some ice cubes into a plastic bag and gently hold it onto the sore. That really helps my lip when I get a really bad cold sore. They can swell up really badly. So no news from the doctors yet then? It could also, and this is a long one, be some kind of allergic reaction on your lip. If your lip was broken or dry at all it could have come into contact with something you’re allergic to. Peanuts can make my lips swell to incredible proportions and it’s painful, as done latex, but that doesn’t result in the crusty scabs that cold sores bring so perhaps not now I’m writing about it. Whatever it is it sounds like the dreaded herpes simplex virus. Ice, every hour. Get a teabag, preferably earl grey (something about the bergamot) and between iceing, which should help to dry it out. Hope it goes soon. I also use neat tea tree oil and take L-Lysine when I’ve got one. Good luck.

      • Many thanks for the reply Ruth, I don’t want to run the risk of spreading the “cold sore” – so are you sure ice in bags is the safest way?

        And will normal tea bags work? It’s all I have indoors and I can not be seen in public with this size growth! Ha.

        Also with the tea tree oil … Do I apply this to the scab? There is no open wound as such and everything is scabbing over.

        There may still be trapped liquid inside the yellowish pale brown scab, but I really don’t know.

        I don’t have access to those tablets right now but I’ll be sure to get some tomorrow!

        Thank again

        • Hi there. I’ve always found that as long as you chuck the ice after it really helps with pain and swelling to ice it. Shouldn’t spread it as long as you’re careful. Any normal tea bag will do. I know it sounds weird but it kind of sucks out the nastiness. Sit and hold it on as firmly as you dare without making it hurt. I tried to tie it on but that’s not easy and you’ll look like a crazy lady but worth a try. Tea tree just dab on with a cotton wool pad, neat to the scab. I sometimes put 99% aloe vera gell on too, it creates a healing layer over the top and seals in the nasty cold sore. Sending healing thoughts your way. Take some pictures too so you can monitor your progress. They really are nasty little critters. Good luck!

  39. I have suffered terribly since I was a baby my mother told me she had a terrible outbreak when I was breast feeding and since then I have been a victim to these horrible ugly things and they don’t get better with age for me and I’m in my mid 30′s now. My main triggers are peanuts/satay, being run down, sunburn/windburn or stressed.. actually I think everything triggers mine especially if I am needing to feel good about my appearance for a social event or party. I generally will get them quite badly and sometimes for a few weeks on end and hide my face and am so embarrassed as they are always bad, I woke this morning with Pete Burns lips with the entirety of my lips covered in them so I rushed to Pharmacist and got FAMVIR so will see if this helps as I have not used this before as I begged the Pharmacist to give me something as I’m so tired of getting them, I have been taking Lysine daily for the previous year and outbreaks a lessened but no way shorter or less server, I use Zovirax when in public and Betadine when at home and I’m willing to try anything so have also tried a bit of tea tree oil this time and some peroxide and will see. I would sell my mother to be cured of these things I hate them so much and will be using all the advice on here but I have found popping them helps me with the length of time I have them it seems to shorten the time and am REALLY hoping the FAMVIR works as I hate the stage when they are a scab and dry and sometimes tear and bleed when laughing or eating, the FAMVIR has seemed to stop any further outbreaks which I would usually get on my chin or nose.

  40. Dont do says:

    The best thing to do is buy abreva it might be a little expensive buy it helps. If you try any of those things chances are its going to get worse ! Just letting you guys know

  41. Abreva works if you put it on RIGHT AWAY and keep it fresh. Once it dries out, carefully dab it away with damp toilet paper, dab dry, and re-apply. It has to completely saturate the cells to work, it works by preventing the cells from bursting and spreading the virus.

  42. So, if your dad had herpes in his system a he had a kid, does that mean it could have been passed to the kid? Because I’m that kid and I got a cold sore a I want to get rid of it. I have had it for 5 days and It’s not getting any better. I’m going to try some of these things thougBut could his herpes pospossibly been pass to me?

  43. hello,. my doctor gave me a vitamins called poten cee which is an ascorbic acid.. do you think thats good for me.. ???

  44. I just got cold sore on Thursday, tried everything including taking lysine, abreva , eating cheese, yougert but it looks like its getting worst :( I’m so depressed , not sure how to tell my boss I have to take days off missing work :(

  45. 50 milligrams of zinc daily will stop cold sores from developing. Don’t overdose on zinc. Just take one tablet daily. Herpes virus can’t handle zinc.

  46. Who knows, perhaps puberty made you more run down, more stressed. Are you a worryer? I am and I know that they are worse and more frequent when I’m stressed. No easy feat but if you can pinpoint stuff that stresses you out and try to avoid getting stressed out it helps.! Good luck.

  47. I had exactly the same problem as you. i used to get ‘cold sores’ really badly when i was younger. They stopped for a while and then came back with a vengeance until i discovered that i had developed an egg allergy (Not Baked Goods but Eggs mayo anything like that) since i stopped eating eggs or mayo i have not had a single cold sore i thought it was because i was taking l lysine supplements but took them so infrequently that it wasn’t until this winter that i realized i hadn’t had a single cold sore with no tablets. I usually start getting them in September and they carry on till February it is now march and no cold sores. i had some caesar dressing without thinking and my whole face began to tingle it was then that i worked out what the problem was, a quick dosage of antihistimenes and my face was no longer tingly and no nasty cold sores thank god as if having allergys and bad eczema isnt bad enough without herpes too.

    Anyway my point is seeing that you stopped having them for so long it could not even be a cold sore it may be an allergy so good luck :)

  48. never, ever, ever pop it!

  49. I agree – only a mad man would pop a cold sore. If you pop it could spread the virus so best to leave to heal. HOwever I have heard that some people pop theirs and swear it heals quicker… who knows. I guess we are all different. I don’t pop mine.

  50. Hi Ruth

    Do you know if I should still treat the cold sore during starting to scab phase with OTC cream?
    Thank you in advance for any suggestionss

  51. YES treat it. I find Propolis really stops pain and aids healing. I used Herstat. Anything though like tea tree, aloe vera etc. that is healing will help. I think so anyway.

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