15 natural cold sore remedies

Cold soresThis list is comprised of all the natural remedies that I have discovered over the many years I have spent fighting the demon cold sore virus.

Once you’ve had one cold sore the chances are you will be plagued with many but don’t give up all hope.

Thanks to everyone who has commented and shared their solutions on other cold sore blogs, I’ve crammed them all into this blog post as well as some other wonderful natural solutions I found trawling the big wide web.

So here, in no particular order are the natural, weird and wacky things you can use to cure your cold sore.

  1. Ear wax

    Yes, you heard me. Ear wax. Someone posted a comment on an old blog post, The Do’s and Don’ts of fighting cold sores on April 1st suggesting ear wax as a cure and I honestly thought it was an April Fool. But I stand corrected, after some research it is indeed thought to be a pretty reliable cure for cold sores. It’s free, can be found in most of our ears in varying supply and all you have to do, after mining your ear for earwax, is smear some onto the tingling area on your lip.

    Yuk! Gross! I hear you cry, but it’s true. Russian scientists have discovered that the cerumen (earwax) of some mammals does indeed contain antistaphylococcal, antimicrococcal and antiherpes properties.

    You can read an abstract from the study on pubmed here, “The anti-infective properties of mammalian earwax”

    So how exactly does one ‘mine’ ones ear for earwax? One website I found mentioned a curette as a safe way to remove earwax but I also know that shoving anything into your ear can be dangerous and should be done with extreme caution to prevent injury. Others suggest just digging some out with your finger nail… Currently I do not appear to have any available earwax to remove and also, thankfully, no cold sore to treat.

    This remedy really intrigues me and disgusts me a little… I would definitely end up licking my lips and eating my own earwax… Ewwwwww!

  2. Salt

    Salt has been known to have healing properties for thousands of years as it has natural antiseptic qualities. All you need to do is crush some salt in a mortar and pestle, mix it with a little water to make a paste and rub some on your lip.

    Or, simply lick your finger, dip it into the salt and press onto your lip for as long as you can bear, 30 seconds should do the trick. Repeat this about four times a day. If the sore has already blistered this might (will definitely) sting, but it should help dry it out and heal it.

    Pink Himalayan rock salt is the best stuff you can buy but any salt would do it.

  3. Garlic

    Garlic has amazing medicinal qualities, make sure you cook with lots of garlic to ward them off, they have anti-inflammatory qualities. Some people suggest you crush some garlic and spread some onto your cold sore. I have tried this and it stings – a lot! Some suggest also mixing salt with garlic for double wammy cold sore killing power. I’m not sure I like this as it’s very harsh and hurts like you wouldn’t believe – better perhaps to treat more sensitively to avoid scarring and speed recovery. When I tried the garlic treatment it felt like I’d made it a whole lot worse and the blisters just seemed to grow before my very eyes!

    “In vitro virucidal effects of Allium sativum (garlic) extract and compounds” ND Weber, DO Andersen, JA North, BK Murray… – Planta …, 2007 – thieme-connect.com

  4. Tea tree

    Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil grows in Australia, has a very strong camphorous smell and is a clear essential oil. It has strong antimicrobial qualities and has been my treatment of choice now for years because it works. It works on cold sores, boils, spots etc. and although it can sting when applied to broken skin, it quickly heals the skin.

    “Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture” P Schnitzler, K Schön, J Reichling – Pharmazie, 2001 – cat.inist.fr

  5. Peppermint oil

    Peppermint grows widely across Europe and is robust and spreads easily. If you grow some in your garden you can make fresh mint tea which will help. You can also peppermint oil at health food shops or large chemists. Apply this directly to the sore to aid healing. If you have a particularly sore and swollen blister try the tea bag technique and hold the bag on the cold sore to help dry it out.

    “Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2″ A Schuhmacher, J Reichling, P Schnitzler – Phytomedicine, 2003 – Elsevier

  6. Echinacea

    Echinacea has strong immune boosting qualities and you can buy a tincture which you take as drops with water. Follow the instructions on the bottle for the recommended dose but when you feel a cold sore coming on take some every day until it’s gone. You could also grow this plant in your garden and harvest the root, or buy tea bags and savour the tea in your mouth and allow it to flow over and cover the cold sore for longer than you would normally when drinking tea.

    “Antiviral activity of characterized extracts from Echinacea spp.(Heliantheae: Asteraceae) against Herpes simplex virus (HSV-I)” SE Binns, J Hudson, S Merali, JT Arnason – Planta medica, 2002 – thieme-connect.com

  7. Chamomile

    Chamomile is a sweet smelling plant from the dairy family and has both calming and healing properties. It contains apigenin and bisabolol, the second of which has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and scientific tests have proven it is highly effective against aciclovir resistant herpes simplex virus. Chamomile can be taken as a tincture or as tea. You could also dab some chamomile onto the sore for extra speedy healing. Please note, if you are allergic to ragweed you may also cross react with chamomile.

    “Efficacy of anise oil, dwarf?pine oil and chamomile oil against thymidine?kinase?positive and thymidine?kinase?negative herpesviruses” C Koch, J Reichling, R Kehm… – Journal of Pharmacy …, 2008 – Wiley Online Library

  8. Aloe Vera

    Make sure you buy 99% aloe vera gel and apply a dab directly over the sore after you have applied your chosen healing oil or ointment. Aloe vera has amazing healing properties and also creates an invisible barrier or seal over the sore, keeping out any further infection and aiding healing.

    “Aloe vera: a valuable ingredient for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries—a review” K Eshun, Q He – Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2004 – Taylor & Francis

  9. Bergamot

    Bergamot is an oily substance which is extracted from the rind of the fruit of a dwarf variety of the Seville orange tree and is most commonly used in cosmetics and as flavouring, it’s what give earl grey its special flowery fragrance. Scientific evidence has proven that Bergamot helps to heal cold sores and you can either apply the oil neat with a cotton wool pad onto the sore, drink Earl Grey tea or hold the earl grey tea bag onto the sore to dry it out.

    Micki Rose also suggests “try a warm Earl Grey tea bag to soothe – all that bergamot! Add 1 drop of teatree and 1 of lavender to it too if you can, and apply.”

    “Diseases of the lips”, RS Rogers, M Bekic – Seminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery, 1997 – Elsevier.

    “Essential oils as therapeutics” SC Garg – Natural Product Radiance, 2005 – jonnsaromatherapy.com

  10. St John’s Wort

    St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum”, and is also known as Tipton’s weed, rosin rose, goatweed, chase-devil, or Klamath weed and is most commonly known for its use in treating depression.

    To treat your cold sore apply St John’s wart oil to the sore several times a day; follow dose instructions carefully.

    “Which plant for which skin disease? Part 1: Atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, condyloma and herpes simplex” J Reuter, U Wölfle, S Weckesser… – JDDG: Journal der …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library

    Warning: If you already taking St John’s wart for medicinal purposes seek medical advice. It should only be used externally and never while taking other forms of Saint John’s wart, as too much of the herb can be dangerous.

  11. Tea bags

    I have heard different advice with regards to tea bags. Some suggest soaking the tea bag in hot water for a few minutes and then applying the wet bag to the lip for about ten minutes. Others suggest holding the dry tea bag onto the lip for as long as you can. I’ve tried the dry tea bag technique and it really does seem to suck the life out of the cold sore once it’s begun to swell and blister. One reader says he ties the tea bag on and sits back to wait for it to work its magic. You can use any tea bag but Earl Grey teabags contain bergamot so should have extra healing powers. Rooibosh tea bags also have strong healing properties so try different tea bags and see which works best. Peppermint tea bags might work well too as peppermint has been proven to aid healing of herpes simplex. You might look stupid but it’s worth and try – just remember to throw the tea bag away afterwards, don’t make a cup of tea with it!

  12. Honey

    Honey has used to medical experts for thousands of years as a natural wound healer. Research has also proven that honey is better at treating cold sores than some over the counter cold sore products such as aciclovir. Patients were treated with Acyclovir for one herpes outbreak and honey for another and the results were pretty impressive. The overall healing time with honey was 43% better than with Acyclovir for sores on the lips and 59% better for genital sores.

    Simply apply a dab of honey to your lips two to three times a day, and try not to lick it off!

    To find our more visit mercola.com “None of the volunteers experienced any side effects with repeated applications of honey, although three patients developed local itching with the Acyclovir.”

    “Topical honey application vs. acyclovir for the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex lesions” NS Al-Waili – … science monitor: international medical journal of …, 2004 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

  13. Melissa officinalis – Lemon balm

    Lemonbalm contains polyphenols, which combat the herpes simplex virus by relieving the cold sore symptoms, shortening their duration and reducing the chances of further outbreaks.

    Scientific studies have proved that this little herb does in fact cure cold sores:
    “Melissa officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpesviruses” P Schnitzler, A Schuhmacher, A Astani… – … international journal of …, 2008 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

    “Antiviral activity of the volatile oils of Melissa officinalis L. against Herpes simplex virus type-2″ A Allahverdiyev, N Duran, M Ozguven, S Koltas – Phytomedicine, 2004 – Elsevier

    It is available at health food shops in capsules, extracts, tinctures and aromatherapy oil or you could grow it in your garden. I wonder if just drying the herb and making it into a neat paste would work?

    Visit the Traditional Oven website for recipes to make your own Lemonbalm tinctures and ointments

    Micki Rose or Pure Health Clinic suggests…
    The best thing I ever found for my patients preventatively was a drop or two of melissa, or cheaper bergamot, essential oil added to their usual moisturiser. Melissa is hideously expensive but a tiny bottle will last months and months. That’s 1-2 drops per small pot not every day.

    For treatment, I used to make an ointment of bergamot, melissa and calendula which worked wonders. In a study where cold sore sufferers applied such a cream 5 x day direct to the sore, 60% healed within 4 days, 87% after 6 days and 96% after 8 days. Better than Zovirax scores!

  14. Lavender oil

    You can buy pure lavender oil in most chemists and health food shops in little bottles. Apply some to a cotton wool bud and apply to the lip a few times a day. This should aid healing and smells nice too. Lavender also has calming properties so it should relax you at the same time as healing your cold sore.

    “Essential oils of aromatic plants with antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and cytotoxic properties–an overview” J Reichling, P Schnitzler, U Suschke… – Forschende …, 2009 – karger.com

  15. Prunella vulgaris – Self heal

    It contains Lignin-Carbohydrate which acts on the herpes virus by inhibiting viral binding and penetration into the host cell. You can see the recent studies performed on how this herb can be effective in fighting the herpes virus below:

    “Antiviral effect of aqueous extracts from species of the Lamiaceae family against Herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro” S Nolkemper, J Reichling, FC Stintzing, R Carle… – Planta …, 2006 – thieme-connect.com

  16. Volcanic clay poultice

    One reader suggested using a volcanic clay poultice which draws out the gunk so the cold sore never really gets established. Also, they don’t scab over because there is less to dry out- so they are less noticeable. Ideally a poultice every 3 hours or so over the first 3 days. Natural Spa Supplies sell this.

OK so there are now 16 of these and now I’m looking for four more to make it 20!

Now all you have to do is decide which natural remedy you’re going to try. I haven’t tested all these yet as I seem to be miraculously clear of cold sores, tempting fate to write that perhaps.

Do you have any other natural remedies for cold sores? What works best for you?

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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. Great website! I definitely learned about a few that I didn’t know. You missed my favorite – ice. Nothing special, plain old ice cubes. I put them in a Baggie so it doesn’t drip & keep icing all day till the tingle stops. Basically you are literally freezing it so it doesn’t fully erupt. I still get a bump but it is barely noticable.

    Best,

    L

    • Hi Leah, Ah so it actually stops the cold sore coming? I’ve used ice to numb one when I’ve already got one but not at the tingle stage. Good idea. Thanks for sharing.

  2. 100% pure GREEK olive oil works well for me. Apply on cold sore 4-6 times a day

    • Really? Olive oil works? Is there something special about greek olive oil then? I will try this but don’t have any greek olive oil. It’s that balance between keeping your lips healthy and moisturised and then also, once you have one it needs to dry out too.

      • I’ve been using hydrogen peroxide for quite some time! I wet a spot on a paper towel or bath tissue with peroxide, press, and hold on my cold sore. It absolutely keeps it from becoming disgusting. There will still be some inflammation from where the thing wants to wreak its havoc but the peroxide keeps it in check. It tingles and stings somewhat but it works! I put it on my lip as many times as I can think to stop and do it. No scarring, either. Do it many times a day until you’re satisfied. Especially after a shower or bath you should reapply b/c the skin is susceptible to absorbing after being wet for some time. The peroxide will be able to penetrate even better.

        • I haven’t tried that Brandy, where do you get hold of that from then? I’m trying propolis at the moment and not only does it smell and taste really lovely, it works. I did get a cold sore recently which snuck up at night but the propolis stops any pain, I hardly know I’ve got one. Almost gone now in less than a week. And it’s good enough to eat and completely natural. Do check out propolis. I am using the Herstat range.

    • Cold sores are typically a manifestation of the non-curable herpes simplex virus. But you can easily get rid or them forever through natural remedies. garlic has great antiviral properties which people can use to get relief from a cold sore.

      Cut up the garlic into smaller cloves, place one of the cold sore, this should make the cold sore recede then completely destroy it. The great thing about using garlic for this is that it doesn’t sting the person or make them want to scratch it; this will provide a source of relief when it comes to getting rid of the cold sore. click this link to learn more : http://coldsoresfreeforever.uni.me/

      • I found garlic straight onto a cold sore caused the WORST cold sore EVER. Maybe that’s just me but it just ballooned and went epic. I would never put garlic on a cold sore ever again. I find propolis works really well for me. Stops pain and aids healing.

        • Did you ever get a cold sore in that spot again? I also used garlic on my right nostril and it became much worse…just horrible. But the funny thing is i didn’t get it in that spot for a good 3/4 years whereas before that was the most favoured place for the virus to strike!

          • Do you know I don’t think I have Su, so maybe the horror or a garlicked cold sore it worth it if they are banished for good! Interesting.

  3. Dan_Kansas says:

    Also, L-Lysine.

    You can find it in the vitamin (pill) section in any convience or grocery store. There are also Lysine forumulas that contain other Immune vitamins:
    http://theprivatepharmacy.com/products/cold_sore_treatments/super_lysine_ointment_tablet_combo.htm

  4. Kati Newman says:

    I will say, the words ear wax, and ear oil are different. Ear oil works for me every time. I feel a tingle, I take the my finger, get the oil and rub it and place it on the tingle, the tingle stops and the eruption stops. I know it is weird, but it works. If I do it after it the cold soar forms, like over night, it cuts the healing process in one to two days verses a week. I don’t get the actual wax, just re-applying the oils of the ear. Mother nature, go figure.

    • Hi Kati, Thanks for sharing. When you say you ‘get the oil’, do you mean you just rub your finger in your ear and then rub your lip? Sounds simple enough. I’ve not tried it yet in anger… is my lip tingling now as I type? or am I just imagining things? She said, reaching to her ear for the oil!

  5. Use Carmex lip balm. Simple and inexpensive. It contains menthol, which comes from peppermint, and camphor. Not one outbreak since I started using it.
    http://www.loodibee.com/carmex-the-cold-sore-remedy-that-works/

  6. Well , I’m in need of help ! I literally have a cold sore as I type an I have graduation pictures on Wednesday and I searched up things about cold sores an it said it can last 14 days :( an I got it this morning . I was going to try the Salt but I’m scared of making it worse lol . Does the salt really help ?
    P.s ; I’m freaking out cause it’s my first time getting a cold sore :|

    • When I feel a cold sore coming on I take a cotton swab and dip it in rubbing alcohol and rub it on the cold sore for as long as I can stand it. Since I have been doing this the cold sore has never blistered up or became bad. It takes a few days of doing this to get rid of it completely but it never gets real bad. I do this once or twice in the morning before I go to work and several times in the evening. Works for me.

      • Where do you buy rubbing alcohol Doby? I will ask at my chemist. I have use Boots Cold Sore lotion in this way before, it’s a clear liquid and smells quite strong but it really does keep cold sores away but only if you apply often. Very often. It needs bombarding.

    • I Tried Salt Once & OMG What a Mess! The Cold Sore Spread Like Gasoline & Fire it Was Terrible!

      • Sounds like what happened when I tried fresh garlic – oh the pain! Never again. Biggest cold sore I ever had when I fed it fresh garlic.

  7. I have had the complete opposite experience with Carmex. Not only does it hurt when applied, the menthol chaps the lips and the oiliness has made cold sores spread for me into a huge cluster. it’s awful. You couldn’t pay me to use that stuff.

    I take L-Lysine as a supplement and then will also use topically if I feel the tingle. rarely will the eruption actually happen, but if it does it’s tiny and heals very quickly.

    • Hi t, I find L-lysine really helps too and thanks for sharing re Carmex. I did buy this once in the US and didn’t find it helped me but I have very sensitive skin and I think some of the ingredients in Carmex may be irritants. Something more natural does help me. Last time I tried a biopropolis ointment and had far less pain and I’m sure it healed a lot quicker.

  8. Josh Hoffman says:

    If you rub semen on ur cold sore the stuff in sperm helps bring the swelling down, you must leave the semen on your cold sore through out the day, yes it’s nasty but your semen doesn’t hurt nor does it annoy the cold sore, it is a free and amazing home remedy, I have done it once and never had a cold sore since

    • I have read this on google and it a little unsavoury isn’t it. If you’re a woman you are at a slight disadvantage and I for one am not that keen on the idea of asking my husband for a specimin. If you’re a single lady what then? Go into work and ask if anyone could fill a sample pot in the interests of curing your cold sore? Not sure it’ll catch on with ladies.

  9. Currently i’m trying the tea tree + aloe vera gel method… hopefully it gets well soon. I had coldsore on current for 1 month alri. I recovered ( not fully revover )about 2 weeks ago however it didnt get subside. I even went to see doc for abt 3 times however what prescribe does not really help with inclusive of injection. Had very bad coldsore in my arms and thigh.

    • Good luck with it and bad news that yours spread. If you have dry and sensitive skin the virus can pop up on other parts of your body and be very painful. I got some cream called Dermol from my doctor which helped to smoothe over when I get cold sores on my face and arms. It is anti-microbial too so the idea is it helps healing. Always wash hands after applying. I just tried an amazing biopropolis cold sore lip cream which was amazing. I reckon the last one healed really quickly and I felt hardly any pain and discomfort. Will be writing about this soon so watch this space.

      • Yes it did spread quite alot :(. Theres no pain nor itchyness. But where to get biopropolis or dermol ? Weather in asia is rather hot and humid in addition of the haze in asia. Yes i do have very sensitive and dry skin. Anyone can help to let me recover soon? :(

        • Can you get hold of organic unrefined shea butter or pure coconut oil? I find that helps, but it’s expensive here in the UK so I treat it like a luxury and don’t use all the time.

          • I will be looking around if i can get hold of it. In the main time, im still using the tea tree+ aloe vera gel… hope it works for me now. :S

  10. Sea salt from the beach helps with recovery of the cold sore. I’m on recovery now after bugging so long for the long due cold sore i got. I went to the beach to swim for consecutively for 3 days, i’ve seen improvement in it.

    • Great news… yes salt would heal the sore. I recently also discovered propolis ointment, from bees. Amazing. I am pretty sure it aids healing and stops pain almost completely. Since I’ve been trying it, at tingle stage, I haven’t had a proper one yet. They just disappear before amounting to anything. Hoorah! Check out the blog on the home page for propolis on cold sores. Awesome stuff.

  11. Hello I’m Shyrley
    I suffered from herpes for 3 years, but do not know, was desperate to find a solution. The medicine the doctor prescribed seemed to me that would work, but I only relieved the symptoms and not solved my problem of herpes.
    I followed all the recommendations in this book downloaded via Internet for the last 7 weeks and I have not shoot!
    Thanks to all that I learned from this book that healthy herpes now I’m very happy.
    Download the book here: http://tinyurl.com/poaxkxd
    I hope you heal well bye…

  12. saige Lynn says:

    okay we’ll I break out all the time with cold sores it can be from 2 to up to 12 , one time it spread in my mouth and in my gums while my teeth where growing in so painful!
    but I am prescribed Valtrix and zoverix It works but not so very fast , at this current moment I have 10!

  13. I recently had an experience with someone and was left sick for a few days after. Literally couldn’t move out of bed and had a canker sore. Finally saw my physician when I felt well enough and told me to look into some vitamins, foods and herbs.

    He gave me a list of vitamins and foods to make part of my daily diet. Once I started looking into these vitamins and herbs that boost your immune system, I found this product called instant immunity. Along with my proper diet and daily intact of that instant immunity supplement, I’ve been ok and have had one outbreak so far. For anyone that’s in the same predicament, I would recommend that course of action as it’s helped me get through this.

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  1. [...] For anyone who suffers from cold sores….here are a few useful tips for how to cure them using natural substances….http://whatallergy.com/2013-04/15-natural-cold-sore-remedies [...]

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