Vitamin B2 for cold sores

Cold sores cause misery for many. They’re painful, unsightly and can spread easily. They are also a very popular topic on this blog, so when one reader suggested Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, as one way of preventing them I knew I had to share it with all my cold sore readers.

Vitamin B2 is one of the group of eight B vitamins which can help to reduce stress, a common trigger of cold sores in many people. There are different types of vitamin B including B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 and B12.

Vitamin B helps the body process and use fats and protein. B complex vitamins are necessary for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly.

In addition to producing energy for the body, riboflavin also works as an antioxidant by fighting damaging particles in the body known as free radicals.

Vitamin B deficiency can cause cracks and sores around the mouth, another indication that it’s so great at fending off cold sores.

How do you get vitamin B2 into your diet?

There are many foods rich in vitamin B2, including:

  • Marmite and other yeast extract spreads
  • Mushrooms, in particular crimini mushrooms which hold the most out of all the mushrooms, though others contain differing amounts
  • Meat such as venison, beef and liver
  • Dried herbs, spices and peppers e.g. paprika, dried coriander, spearmint, parsley and chili powder
  • Yogurt
  • Oily fish such as mackerel, atlantic salmon and trout
  • Spinach
  • Milk (both cow and goat’s milk)
  • Cheese
  • Soybeans
  • Almonds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Eggs

It’s interesting to note that many of the above are also known allergens – it’s very important to understand the food you eat and don’t eat to make sure you are getting a balanced diet with all the nutrients, minerals, protein and calcium you need.

Nettle tea contains vitamin B2

Surprisingly nettle tea leaves contain vitamins C, B1, B2, B3, B6 and vitamin E. It is also a natural source of calcium and iron, as well as being naturally caffeine and sugar free. Nettle tea is rich in protein and it contains a considerable amount of fibre and also aids digestion.

So all in all, you can’t go far wrong with a mug of nettle tea.

If you get cold sores you will also be interested in reading “The do’s and don’ts of fighting cold sores”. It’s THE most popular blog post on this blog – amazing really that so many people get them. I hardly ever get cold sores now by following some simple rules, avoiding my food triggers, keeping my immune system strong and taking Echinacea and L-Lysine.

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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. was voted in the top 5 allergy blogs and Ruth also judges regularly for the FreeFrom Food Awards and FreeFrom Skincare Awards. She also won the Foods You Can People's choice Best FreeFrom blogger award 2014.


  1. im nto suer if this will post but i am in need of assistance via WA.i have a cold sore and ive purchased TEA TREE OIL,PEROXIDE,L-LYSINE TABLETS,and GARLIC CLOVE.i also purchased some L-LYSINE TABLETS.they are 1000mg do i use these bc im washing with warm water andsoap then applying one or the other every half hour right on the cold i doing this right?i softened the scab so i could thin it out(its thick and lumpy).i prefer a thin scab bc i work in a restaurant and im sefl concious of it.ive even considered quitting my job and I LOVE MY JOB!im thankful for your helpful site and i eagerly await to hear from you.

    • Well sounds like you are on the right track. Take one capsule a day of the L-Lysine with water once a day. If it is really bad, swollen and mad take two. Try to let the sore dry out. I put neat tea tree oil on. Stings but does kill them. Do you get them often? If so it’s important to work out what triggers yours. Could be being tired and run down, certain foods, alcohol, the sun, and they’re horrid – I know.

      • thank you so much ma’am.i have been plagued for almost 25 years with cold sores.i am 40 now and they still stop my very life in its looks horrendous now bc the very first scab was so thick i had to soften it.then the second scab is thinner but its scattered on the sore.abreva,blistex nothing works and im hoping to include these common sense remedies to my ilfe permanently and to ALWAYS have L-LYSINE in my body.i am concerned about a few of the new treatments ive purchased: im concerned the tea tree oil i have is not the right kind.its HOLLYWOOD BEAUTY TEA TREE OIL(skin&scalp treatment).im off work mon&tues but right now the scabs are hard and the lipstick will cover it but will look bumpy. what else can i do?THANK YOU AGAIN

        • You need the pure neat oil for the best results with tea tree oil and you only need a tiny bit, just a drop or two.

          • thanks.i dont think thats the kind ive been using so tomorrow ill buy another brand that specifies ‘pure neat off for the next two days so ill be tending to this monster on my lip.thank you again miss ruth.

  2. THNAK YOU MISS RUTH FOR YOUR BLOG!i broke out with a cold sore last week(tues 11/6/12).i have come close to quitting many jobs bc of my cold sores and i want to share my day to day diary ive been keeping using some of the suggestions here. sometime TUESDAY (11/6/12) i felt the tingle & immediately put campho oil on it for the rest of the day(i get the gel kind in a carmex-like tube).i dont remember scratching very lightly it with my teeth but its hard for me not to.then WEDNESDAY morning(11-7/12) i noticed it had definitely formed the smooth upraised hump and i constantly reapplied the campho gel and went to work that nightit wasnt all that swollen my lip just looked full so i went to work.. that night it was so mad it had swollen AND blistered. THURSDAY(11/8/12) at noon i just called in bc it was so blistered and full.i immediately put ice packs on it and started switching from ice to alcohol and then drying it with my daughters hairdrier. the swellng went down and the burning stopped but it was still forming bc i wasnt drying it out enough.every 30 min. i washed it with soap and warm water then id dry it out with the alcohol,ice and dryer.i had very little success and while it hadnt burst it was a big blister and i thought id have to burst it but i didnt.10am FRIDAY morning(11/9/12) i picked up my check and purchased L-LYSINE TABLETS,PEROXIDE,WITCH HAZEL,GARLIC CLOVE,ANTIBIOTIC OINTMENT, and TEA TREE OIL BC OF THIS BLOG. evey 20 minutes i switched from one drying agent to the other: alcohol,garlic clove,peroxide,and ice then id dry it with the dryer.the entire time i was taking 1 L-LYSINE every two hours with half glass of water. self-concious,i went to work FRIDAY evening(11/9/12) with light lipstick to cover it.i started my routine again that night bc the lipstick had upset it.the entire weekend i had my 4 y.o. granddaugter and 2 month old grandson but i made a strong effort anyway. SATURDAY morning(11/10/12) i noticed the blister had hardened flat but was kinda plump.i knew it was an open sore underneath so i softened it by washing it with warm soap and water.i let it air dry 10-15 minutes before i started with the drying agents(open sores really burn).then i went to work with my ‘routine’…i gave my cold sore hell yall!!!!bc i had to soften it i had to go thru the openness of it but i kept it so dried out when i started work SATURDAY at 5pm i had to use the lipstick generously bc it was inflamed in spots than others.(yall,we gotta find a good healthy cover).that entire shift(5hours) id go check the cover-up but it was getting soft and when i got off it was kinda home,i immediately washed it,cooled it with ice and started using my drying agents when my grand was sleeping.doing this routine kept it manageable enough to go to work SUNDAY evening(11/11/12) and only a coworker or two noticed bc they were all in my face(sigh).MONDAY(11/12/12) i was off work but had a meeting at 9pm.i still couldnt do my routine like i imagined still had my was healing good but i had used the lipstick for the meeting when i shouldve soaked cotton balls in one of the drying agents and sit alone while holding it in it is TUESDAY evening(11/13/12) and ive dried it out more often since i took myy grands home earlier.i used a surgical mask and went shopping to avoid inflaming coverups like the lipstick….EARLIER I READ SOMETHING ON HERE and i tried it when i got home from shopping>>> AT 6PM I CRUSHED TWO L-LYSINE TABLETS INTO A PASTY MIXTURE IN A SPOON OF WATER, I APPLIED IT TO THE COLDSORES and left it alone for a whole hour..the mixture thoroughly dries and tightened the scab like ive never seen!my scab is actually wide and its terribly thin now like i needed it. ITS GETTING SMALLER BC OF THE DRIED L-LYSINE MIXTURE.ive applied two mixtures and my coldsore is getting smaller.after all these ive learned a way to cut that 2 weeks down to 1 week…what do yall think?I OWE A HUGE THANKS TO MISS RUTH FOR HER CONSIDERATION TO US ALL FOR STARTING THIS BLOG.

    • WOW Daphne – that really is a cold sore diary. Thaks for sharing. Good idea re crushing the llysine tablets. I’ve never tried that and I know you can also buy an Llysine lip salve type of thing that I’m on the lookout for myself. I think you’ve done really well! Am going to try smashing up llysine capsules next time I get one, though I have be CS free now for a month… (touch wood)

  3. MISS RUTH,ive not purchased the neat tea tree oil bc im switching from the witch hazel,peroxide,alcohol, garlic clove and popping l-lysine tablets.i did use just a little of the tea tree oil i got bc my sore tightened so also drinking a full glass of water with each tablet.the garlic clove i smashed in a plastic bag and rubbed the juices on the coldsore.i even took the smashes and laid them across the coldsores until the burn got to be too much.i laid the smashes on a couple of times just to feel im fighting them sorry my typing is less than acceptable on both threads but im so tired and sleepy i just wanted to share my experiment with you going to take a l-lysine,do my routine ,apply a last mixture and go to sleep.wish me good luck and if anyone has any comments please share.

    • Tea tree oil is quite strong so it can make it sting a little – just image the horrid thing is dying. If it really hurts though, like your garlic, don’t be too hard on yourself. Get popping that Llysine and I hope it helps. Also, keep a cold sore diary. What triggers them? Is it a certain food or is it just being over tired etc.? Can be really helpful, food definitely triggers mine.

  4. tonight is FRIDAY(11/16/2012) DAY 11:ive only used my drying agents 3 times since yesterday in order to give the tender places time to dry out and regenerate skin over the kinda convinced i burned it back to hell and im only using triple antibiotic ointment on it now to help it heal…so much for me shortening it to one week (sigh)

  5. Great post Ruth

  6. I’ve had many troubles with coldsores, but have recently found a miracle cream which stops them from coming up when they first appear.
    Rather than suffer for 6 days, they’re gone within 12 hours.

    The cream is called Lomaherpan and I get it from here:

    It has made such a difference for me, it really is a wonder cream, far far better than anything else I’ve tried.
    good luck

    • OOOH yeah, thanks for sharing. Says it’s made with lemon balm, I wonder if using just neat lemon balm would work too? or oil from the plant. Thanks. Not had one for soooooo long now since using Herstat Propolis ointment.

  7. Hi,
    I have just read some of these comments and will be crushing my Lysine tonight. Lady in the health shop also said I could be low in Vitamin B’s so have bought some pastels for that. My triggers are stress, illness and sun. It’s an awful thing to have and people who have never had one just don’t understand the way they may you feel….. So glad I’ve found this page!! 🙂

    • Thanks Sue. Vitamin b is one of those things often overlooked. My triggers are being run down, alcohol, stress and some processed food. Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Melissa says:

    I have had cold sores for many years. I can relate to the feeling of looking horrendous, quitting my job, etc. I’ve tried everything and only one thing actually makes a difference…ice. It’s not a guarantee, because it doesn’t always make the cold sore disappear. But if you are like me, you are willing to try everything. So…at first notice of getting one, I take a washcloth and an ice cube and directly apply it to the cold sore. Ice to lip. I do this for hours at a time. It will stop that cold sore in its tracks most times. The sooner you catch it, the better the ice does. It has been my only saving grace. I hope this helps out some of you, I know the horrible feeling cold sores cause. Good luck all.

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