Household Remedies for Cold Sores

Cold sores are small, blister-like lesions appearing on the lip area. The sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are also known as fever blisters. The sores generally appear for 10 to 14 days. Pain or tingling sensations are felt on the lip a few days before visual symptoms occur. Treatment is often not necessary as the cold sores will disappear on their own. However, simple household remedies and self care techniques may prevent the sore from becoming infected or reoccurring.

Keep Clean

Don’t pick or touch the cold sore and keep the area clean and dry. Look for signs of infection such as yellow pus or drainage. Infection is rare, but can occur. Allow the sore to heal by itself if no infection or pain is present, suggests the Mayo Clinic.


Relieve pain or discomfort associated with the cold sore by applying an ice pack or heat compress. Use a bag of ice chips and hold to the area for several minutes. Dispose of after use as to not spread the virus. Ensure the heat compress is thoroughly washed and cleaned with hot water, soap and bleach to disinfect.

Replace Toothbrush

Use a new toothbrush when you first suspect an outbreak. Once the cold sore has healed, replace your toothbrush again. Old toothbrushes continue to harbor the herpes simplex virus and cause further infections. Store the toothbrush in a cool, dry place.

Foods to Avoid

Avoid foods rich in arginine. The herpes simplex virus uses the essential amino acid to grow. Do not eat chocolate, cola, peas, gelatin and beer suggests website Mother Nature.

Increase Lysine

Lysine is an essential amino acid that may prevent further breakouts. Lysine is found in dairy products, potatoes and brewer’s yeast. If you experience more than three cold sores a year, take 2,000 to 3,000 mg of lysine daily. Double intake when signs of an outbreak, such as a tingling sensation on the lip, are present.

About this Author

Freelance writer Julie Hampton has worked as an artist, writer and event planner for more than eight years. She also served in the U.S. Army as a medic and nurse specializing in geriatrics. Hampton has a degree in journalism, and studied public relations at The University of West Florida.