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THE TRUTH ABOUT COLD SORE REMEDIES

When you have a cold sore, you want to act on it quickly. You may end up trying remedies that friends, family, or health websites recommend, but you may find that these aren’t clinically proven.

Some remedies may offer only temporary symptom relief, while others may have the potential to make the cold sore worse. With lots of anecdotal evidence out there, let’s separate the medicines from the myths.

Lemon Juice

Lemon Juice

Applying lemon juice to your cold sore might fight off bacteria, but it won’t help against the virus.1

Tea Bags

Tea Bags

Using tea bags may cool down any redness around the cold sore, but it won’t fight the infection.1

Alcohol/Witch Hazel

Alcohol/Witch Hazel

Rubbing alcohol and witch hazel are astringents. They might dry out the cold sore but they are not clinically proven to heal them.2

Ice

Ice

Ice may provide temporary pain relief and help reduce redness and swelling.1

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is known to have antiseptic properties. It might encourage the natural healing process by drying out the cold sore and may prevent bacterial infection, but it’s not clinically proven to treat cold sores.3

Vanilla Extract

Vanilla Extract

Pure vanilla extract is alcohol based. As an astringent, it may function in the same way as rubbing alcohol or witch hazel.

Salt Water

Salt Water

Salt may help change the environment around the virus so it can’t thrive. While it might dry up the cold sore, it can also be painful to your skin.2

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly may help soften the skin and provide a protective layer against infection. It will not shorten the healing time of the cold sore.

Lysine-Rich Food

Lysine-Rich Food

Lysine is a type of protein that may help prevent the multiplication and progression of the virus. It’s found in eggs, yogurt, milk, and cheese.1 Read more.

Hot Compress

Hot Compress

Using a hot compress (a clean towel soaked with warm-hot water) may help reduce the inflammation, but won’t shorten the healing process. It can be applied over the sores in an interval of 20 minutes.1

Read What Dr. Pam Marquess Thinks About Abreva®

"The fact is home remedies have not been clinically proven to heal cold sores or lessen healing time," says Dr. Pam Marquess, a pharmacist and CEO of East Marietta Drugs, an independent chain of pharmacies based in metro Atlanta. "Although those home remedies may make it temporarily feel better, using them can possibly make the cold sore worse. I get cold sores, and what I personally use and recommend to my patients is Abreva®, the only over-the-counter cold sore medicine that is FDA approved to shorten healing time."

Although these remedies may help with temporary symptom relief, or to minimize bacterial infection, they are not clinically proven to heal cold sores like Abreva® Cream is. It is the only nonprescription cold sore treatment approved by the FDA to help heal your cold sore in as little as 2½ days,* when used at the first sign. Nothing heals faster.**

If you have any questions regarding cold sore treatments and remedies, your healthcare professional is the best person to offer advice.