13 Natural Remedies for Preventing and Treating Cold Sores

This article was written by Nina Elias and provided by our partners atPrevention.

To Avoid Getting a Cold Sore…

1. Look at your sweetheart’s lips. If your partner has a cold sore, hold off on the lip lock: Cold sores spread through contact with someone who has them. And we don’t just mean through kissing—avoid sharing utensils and drinking glasses, and keep both your hands clear of the infected area until it’s clear.

2. Slash stress.If you’ve had one cold sore, the virus is still in your system (and always will be). But you can stop it from rearing its head again by keeping stress, which weakens your resistance to flare-ups, to a minimum. (Lowering stress—no problem, right? JK. But these two-minute stress solutions really can help.)

3. Stay our of the sun.Excessive sunlight can result in outbreaks, because, like stress, it weakens your immune system and makes you more susceptible to disease. Always wear a lip balm and an all-over face cream with at least SPF 30, and wear a hat when you’ll be outside for a while. If you already have a sore, apply lip balm to the affected area separately with a cotton swab so you don’t spread sore to the rest of your lips, suggests Mona Gohara, M.D., assistant clinical dermatology professor at Yale University.

4. Keep your immune system in tip-top shape.Beyond the aforementioned stress soothers, be sure to get plenty of sleep, load up on these immune-boosting power foods and kick these common resilience-wrecking habits to the curb.


5. Cool it at the dermatologist.Aggressive cosmetic procedures like lasers, peels, and microderma brasion can cause an outbreak, says Jan Marini, CEO of Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. If you have an appointment you just can’t break, your derm can give you a prescription for Acyclovir, a drug normally reserved for genital herpes.

6.Hold off on the lip liner.Or any other lip product you’d normally use until the sore is gone, says Kimberly Sampson, esthetician and training director for emerginC. And while you’re at it, be sure to throw out any lip liner, lip gloss, lip balm, and lipstick that may have become contaminated with the herpes virus the last time you had a cold sore.

If You Already Have a Cold Sore…

7. Make this DIY cold sore treatment.Saturate a cotton swab with 100 percent pure vanilla extract—it’s naturally anti-viral. Gently apply and hold onto the affected area for up to one minute. Repeat three to four times daily until cold sore is gone, says Sampson.

8. Sleep upright.Use extra pillows to elevate your head. The height helps blisters drain, so that fluid doesn’t settle overnight.

9. Try your hand at licorice extract.Sampson suggests mixing 1 tablespoon of licorice extract to 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of petroleum jelly. Apply a thin layer onto affected area for a quick recovery.

10. Keep your hands off.Touching a cold sore can not only dry it out, but also cause a bacterial infection, says Gohara.

11. Apply ice.Reduce the swelling with an ice pack.

12. Take small bites. Don’t do anything to aggravate your cold sore—like opening your mouth extra wide. If it breaks open, it could spread to the rest of your lips.

13. See a doctor. If the cold sore is truly intolerable—or you’re breaking out frequently—ask your doctor for Zovirax, a prescription medication that fights the virus.