12 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Cold Sores Naturally

cold-sores-remedyAlso called herpes labialis or fever blisters, cold sores are painful and annoying blisters that appear around the mouth [1].

A prevalent viral infection, these are caused by a virus called the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which can be spread by close contact with an infected person [2].

This is different from genital herpes, which is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2, and affects the genital area.

Usually, cold sores can clear up on without treatment within seven to 10 days [3].

However, since it’s contagious and distressing, it’s a good idea to control the viral infection as early as possible.

You can do this by using these simple but proven techniques in treating cold sores.

1. Echinacea

Echinacea-for-cold-soresThe use of Echinacea as an herbal medicine has been reported to have significant benefits for the health [4].

Most of its beneficial effects can be attributed to its ability to power up the body’s immunity [4].

American researchers explain that it works by activating the polymorphonuclear leukocytes, which in turn, leads to an “enhanced resistance to infectious diseases” [4].

In a 2009 study published in the Antiviral Research Journal, Echinacea extract was tested against several strains of viruses including influenza virus, rhinoviruses 1A and 14, adenovirus types 3 and 11, and herpes simplex virus type 1 [5].

It was found that Echinacea has potent antiviral activities that can inhibit growth and spread of all these viruses [5].

Not only did the extract inhibit viral induction, it also destroyed the viral membranes, which indicates that it has “multi-functional” virucidal activities [5].

It also helps that this herb has anti-inflammatory properties, which was through the inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines [5].

Plus, with its immunological properties, Echinacea can stimulate the immune resistance to make the body less susceptible to viral infections like cold sores [4].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teabag of Echinacea
  • 1 cup of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Boil water in a pot.
  • Pour water in a tea cup.
  • Add the teabag.
  • Let it steep for 10 minutes.
  • Drink this tea everyday for one to two weeks.

2. Vanilla

vanilla-for-cold-soresMost people know that vanilla is a popular ingredient in pastries and desserts like butter creams, sugar cookies and puff pastries.

However, many are not aware of its medicinal value, which goes way back to its discovery in the ancient times in Mesoamerica [6].

As it turns out, vanilla is more than just a sweet flavoring for desserts, it is also a highly prized medicinal plant, which can help treat a wide range of health problems [6].

Vanilla’s active compound called vanillin is known to have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties that make it an ideal remedy for cold sores [7].

Topical application of this extract can help relieve the burning and tingling sensation caused by this viral infection.

It is a quick and safe solution for those annoying blisters appearing on the areas around your mouth.

What You’ll Need:

  • 5 drops of pure vanilla extract
  • 10 drops of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of water

Recommended Directions:

  • Using a cotton swab, apply five drops of vanilla extract on cold sores.
  • Repeat four times a day until full recovery.
  • Or mix 10 drops of vanilla extract in a cup of water.
  • Use this to wash your face three times a day for up to one week.

3. Witch Hazel

witch-haze-lfor-cold-soresWitch hazel is a highly coveted herb that has been used since the early years to naturally heal acne, bruises, psoriasis, eczema, oily skin, skin sores, and so on.

The Native North Americans were among the first to use witch hazel as treatment for swollen skin [8].

Witch hazel’s anti-inflammatory powers have been well-established in scientific literature [9, 10, 11].

In as short as 24 hours, low dosage witch hazel cream was able to suppress UV-induced erythema among 24 healthy individuals [9].

Erythema is a condition characterized by reddening and irritation of the skin resulting in dilation of blood capillaries.

The effects of witch hazel were superior to chamomile cream and hydrocortisone cream [9].

That’s not all, it has also been proven in a 1996 study that this herb has strong antiviral activities that can ward off HSV-1 [12].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 teaspoon of witch hazel

Recommended Directions:

  • Pour witch hazel on a cotton ball.
  • Apply gently on the sores.
  • Do this remedy twice a day for up to two weeks.

4. Aloe Vera Gel

aloe-vera-for-cold-soresApart from its high mucilage content, aloe vera is also widely touted for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties [13, 14].

It’s also a good way to strengthen the immune system [14].

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Since it doesn’t cause any allergic reactions and side effects, experts deem it safe even for long-term use [14].

If you have cold sores, you can try using aloe vera gel as remedy.

Aloe vera’s antiviral properties can help thwart off infections caused by the herpes simplex virus, which is why it is a popular remedy for this infection [15].

Not only does it promote wound healing, it also bolsters the immune defense to make it easier to prevent viral infections [16].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 aloe vera plant

Recommended Directions:

  • Slice the leaf into two.
  • Squeeze out the gel.
  • Apply it on your cold sores.
  • Do this technique once a day for one week.

5. Licorice

Historical records show that licorice has been used as herbal treatment since the ancient times in India, Greece and China [17].

Today, it is widely used in Europe for inflammatory disorders, and in Japan for as an antiviral treatment [8].

Italian researchers confirm of licorice’s strong antiviral activities against herpes simplex virus, influenza A virus, arboviruses, SARS related coronavirus and many others [17].

A study conducted in the University of Cagliari reports that licorice root can “inactivate herpes simplex virus particles irreversibly” [18].

Its active compound glycyrrhizie acid can strongly inhibit the growth and formation of this virus but not affect its ability to multiply [18].

It’s important to note, however, that licorice has been reported to elevate blood pressure so those with cardiac or hypertension issues should only use small doses, or refrain from using this remedy [8].

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 tablespoon of licorice root extract
  • 2 teaspoons of petroleum jelly

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine two ingredients.
  • Apply this mixture on cold sores.
  • Leave it on overnight.
  • Repeat everyday for one week.

6. Garlic

Garlic-for-cold-soresDid you know that garlic has been used as a natural medicine for over 5,000 years?

With its potent pharmacological effects, it has been called the wonder herb numerous times.

Among the many viruses that are susceptible to garlic’s strong antiviral activities is the herpes simplex virus [19].

Apart from this, garlic also suppresses inflammation, making it a good remedy for cold sores [20].

It works by preventing pro-inflammatory messengers from forming and spreading, and by inhibiting the growth of viruses through its sulphur-containing enzymes [20].

Since garlic is a commonly used spice, it is one of the most accessible home remedies for this specific viral infection.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of honey

Recommended Directions:

  • Crush one clove of garlic.
  • Slice in half.
  • Apply on cold sores for 10 minutes.
  • Do this four times a day for one week.
  • Crush two cloves of garlic and extract juice.
  • Mix garlic juice and honey.
  • Apply a thin layer of garlic and honey mixture on cold sores.
  • Repeat remedy once a day until condition clears.

7. Milk

 milk-for-cold-soresWe all know that milk is good for the body.

It is an excellent source of calcium, and other essential nutrients that’s needed by the body to maintain optimal health.

As a beauty secret, milk has been added in baths since the time of Cleopatra.

The belief was that it can help preserve the skin’s youthful glow and appearance.

It’s also good to know that the immunglobulins in milk have been found to have beneficial effects on the body, particularly in strengthening immunity against viral illnesses [21].

It also contains lysine, which an American study has discovered to be effective in “accelerating recovery from herpes simplex infection and suppressing recurrence” [22].

Both oral intake and topical application of milk can help in the treatment of cold sores.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 glass of milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon of milk

Recommended Directions:

  • Drink a glass of milk everyday until you’ve fully recovered from cold sores.
  • Also, apply a small amount on the affected areas of your mouth using a cotton ball.
  • Do this for up to two weeks.

8. Lemon Balm

Lemon-Balm-for-cold-soresIn a study that can be found in the Alternative and Complementary Therapies, lemon balm is described as the “humble but potent herb” [23].

It is one of the most underrated medicinal herbs with the highest potency against a wide array of ailments.

This plant, which belongs to the mint family, has been found to have the ability to reduce healing time of cold sore lesions [23].

In a clinical trial featured in the Alternative Medicine Review Journal, a total of 66 patients with recurrent cold sores were randomized to use either lemon balm cream or a placebo four times a day for five days [24].

Improvement of symptoms was observed among lemon balm users on the second day [24].

Results show that lemon balm is highly effective in curbing infections caused by the HSV-1 [24].

In another study, researchers required 116 patients with acute cold sores to apply lemon balm cream or a placebo on the affected areas of their skin two to four times a day for five to 10 days [24].

Of the patients that used lemon balm, 41 percent recovered completely from the condition  [24].

Furthermore, this herb also prevents spread of this contagious infection.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 to 4 drops of lemon balm essential oil
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Blend lemon balm oil with olive oil.
  • Put mixture in a glass jar.
  • Dip a cotton tip into the oil mixture.
  • Apply on cold sores.
  • Do this four times a day for up to one week.

9. Peppermint Oil

 peppermint-oil-for-cold-soresPeppermint oil has always been the go-to solution for irritable bowel syndrome.

What many do not know is that it is also great for resolving cold sore infection.

A 2003 study revealed that peppermint oil demonstrates “high levels of virucidal activity against HSV-1,” reducing the virus by over 90 percent [25].

In fact, it is active even against drug-resistant strain of this virus [25].

Since peppermint oil can penetrate easily into the skin, it is an ideal topical treatment for cold sores [25].

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 drops of peppermint oil
  • Water

Recommended Directions:

  • Splash water on cold sores to rinse of oil and gunk.
  • Dip a cotton tip into the peppermint oil.
  • Gently press cotton tip on affected areas.
  • Do this everyday for one to two weeks, or until infection subsides.

Related: 12 Uses and Health Benefits of Peppermint Oil

10. Tea Tree Oil

If your cold sores keep on coming back, you should try using tea tree oil.

While other herbal remedies are an effective one-time treatment for cold sores, tea tree oil is considered the most reliable solution for recurrent attacks, which affect up to 40 percent of the population [26].

Topical application of a gel formulation made from tea tree oil is efficient in curbing and shortening the duration of cold sore infection [26].

This is not a surprise at all since tea tree oil has always been an excellent remedy for various skin infections.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 2 drops of eucalyptus oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients.
  • Apply oil mixture on cold sores using a cotton tip three times a day.

ALSO READ: 12 Incredible Health Benefits of Tea Tree Oil (Backed by Evidence)

11. Sandalwood Oil

Another effective remedy for cold sores is sandalwood oil.

Several studies show that sandalwood oil is among the essential oils that demonstrate potent virucidal effects against HSV-1 [27, 28].

This oil has also been found to stop this virus from replicating [28].

It’s a quick solution to cold sores that can provide immediate relief from the pain and discomfort that it causes.

What You’ll Need:

  • 3 drops of sandalwood oil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Combine the two oils.
  • Spread a thin layer on cold sores using a cotton pad.
  • Repeat everyday for one week.

12. Lemongrass Oil

 lemongrass-for-cold-sores.Even at a small concentration of 0.1 percent, lemongrass oil can completely inhibit the reproduction of herpes simplex virus type 1, a study reports [29].

Not only that, this oil can also suppress viral incubation by up to 24 hours [29].

Use this herbal remedy to free yourself from the pain and stinging sensation brought about by cold sore infection.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 drops of lemongrass oil
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Recommended Directions:

  • Mix olive oil and lemongrass oil.
  • Soak cotton ball on lemongrass oil.
  • Rub gently on cold sores.
  • Do this everyday for one to two weeks.

Although cold sores are not life threatening, you would want to treat them right away as they’re contagious and painful.

Use these remedies to get rid of this condition for good.