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Should You Pop a Cold Sore?

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If you’ve ever dealt with a pimple before (and really, who hasn’t?), you probably know that popping it isn’t advised — but that most likely didn’t stop you! Even though it’s widely understood that popping a pimple can leave a scar, or even make the situation worse, most of us just can’t help ourselves.

But what about when it comes to cold sores? Should you pop them? Will it cause any damage to your skin if you do? To uncover a definitive answer to this question, we sat down with two dermatologists to get their take on dealing with cold sores.

Should You Pop a Cold Sore?

“In today's world of obsession with pimple popping and more, it may be very tempting to pop a cold sore, but do not do it,” said Dr. Omar Ibrahimi, a Harvard trained, board-certified dermatologist. “Doing so can lead to scarring, as well as spreading of the cold sores on yourself and others.”

“Keep in mind that the herpes virus is in the blister, so by popping it, you can spread it to other people and on other body areas including your eyes,” said Viseslav Tonkovic-Capin, MD, a Kansas City-based dermatologist. “Also, a blister is a natural band-aid, and if you remove it, you are increasing the chance of infection and scarring. Therefore, ‘popping’ a cold sore is discouraged.” 

When it comes to washing your face when you have a cold sore, Dr. Ibrahimi said it’s okay, you just have to be careful: “I would suggest using a makeup face wipe for younger patients and avoiding the area with a cold sore or being very gentle when washing the face. Adults can wash their face but should avoid rubbing or irritating the area with the cold sore and be extra gentle in that area.” 

How to Heal a Cold Sore

So clearly, popping your cold sore is not advised! What is advised is to touch a cold sore as little as possible, and whenever you do, to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. When left alone, most cold sores go away in about two weeks.

If you’re looking to get rid of a cold sore fast, consider Abreva. Abreva cream can help heal a cold sore in two and a half days1 when used at the first sign. Why wait a full two weeks and when you can find relief in only a few days?

1 Median healing time 4.1 days. 25% of users healed in 2.5 days

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