Cold Sore Facts and Myths
You know you’ve heard them–those cold sore myths that spread almost as fast as the virus itself
When it comes to fighting a cold sore, you’ll hear advice on everything from home remedies to lip balm cures. Learn the facts about cold sores so you can face every cold sore with confidence–from the first tingle until it’s bye-bye blister.
Most nonprescription treatments work the same way.
FACT: Most nonprescription treatments only treat the pain of cold sores, and provide temporary relief. Abreva® Cream is the only FDA-approved, nonprescription cold sore medicine that shortens the duration of pain and itch.
Cold sores are only contagious when you can see a blister.
FACT: A cold sore is contagious from the first tingle until it’s completely healed. Remember to take extra precautions to protect others from encountering the virus.
The cold sore virus (HSV-1) cannot spread beyond the lip area.
FACT: HSV-1 is a form of the herpes simplex virus that usually affects the lips or mouth, but can spread to the eyes or genitals.
Everyone who contracts the cold sore virus will experience an outbreak.
FACT: While it’s likely that 67% of adults have been exposed to the cold sore virus, not everyone gets cold sore outbreaks.1 Actually, the majority of people with HSV-1 are not aware they are infected.1
There is no way to shorten the healing time of a cold sore.
FACT: Some prescription medicines—as well as the nonprescription medicine Abreva® Cream—have been clinically proven and FDA approved to shorten the healing time of a cold sore.
Ingredients like camphor, menthol, and phenol can heal a cold sore.
FACT: Though these common lip balm and ointment ingredients can soothe or moisturize your cold sore, they’re not clinically proven to heal it.
All nonprescription products are FDA approved to shorten the healing time of a cold sore.
FACT: Currently, the only nonprescription healing product approved by the FDA to shorten both healing time and the duration of symptoms is Abreva® Cream when used at the first sign of a cold sore.*
*Median healing time 4.1 days. 25% of users healed by 2.5 days.
Ice helps cold sores heal faster.
FACT: Ice may temporarily provide relief from your symptoms and help reduce redness and swelling. But don’t expect it to speed the healing time of your cold sore.
Distilled vinegar helps minimize cold sore outbreaks.
FACT: Vinegar helps with many things, but preventing cold sore outbreaks is not one of them.
Alcohol or witch hazel can heal your cold sores.
FACT: Alcohol and witch hazel are astringents that will dry out your cold sore. Not to mention they are not FDA approved or clinically proven to speed the healing of a cold sore.
Tea bags heal cold sores.
FACT: Put away the tea bags—unless you’re making tea. They will not make your cold sore go away faster.
- Herpes simplex virus. World Health Organization. (2016, January). Retrieved April 28, 2016, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs400/en/
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