Cold Sores
Natural Remedies

Cold Sore Relief: Top Natural Remedies

| Modified on Feb 14, 2024
Cold Sore Natural Remedies

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are a common and often recurring viral infection manifesting as small, painful blisters around the mouth caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). While there is no cure for HSV, natural remedies can provide relief and promote faster healing.

What Is A Cold Sore?

A cold sore is a small, fluid-filled blister or group of blisters that appear on the lips or around the mouth. These blisters often burst, resulting in a rough, crusty patch on the skin.

Typically, the first sign of a cold sore is a tingling or itching sensation in a specific area near the mouth. After the blister forms, other symptoms might include a fever, a sore throat, and swollen lymph nodes. Cold sores are triggered by two types of the herpes simplex virus: type 1 or 2.

Natural Remedies for Mouth Sores

Natural remedies can play a crucial role in managing cold sores, helping to accelerate the healing process and alleviate discomfort.

Vitamin C

Applied as a topical treatment and taken orally, vitamin C can speed the rate of healing of cold sores. Vitamin C helps eradicate infection and boost immunity. Additionally, taking vitamin C regularly can prevent the further onset of sores.


L-lysine is an amino acid or an essential element of protein. As a cold sore treatment, l-lysine helps eliminate the herpes simplex virus that causes the condition. The treatment may be taken by mouth or applied to the skin for effective treatment.

Myrrh Oil

Myrrh oil is another effective treatment for mouth sores and other skin ulcers. Myrrh helps to relieve agitation, soothe skin, and eliminate infection. Dabbed on the lesion, myrrh oil shortens the duration of sores and relieves associated pain.

Licorice Root

This traditional herb contains glycyrrhizic acid, which has antiviral properties that may help to combat the virus-causing cold sores. Applying licorice powder topically or drinking licorice tea may aid in reducing inflammation and preventing the growth of HSV.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil, known for its antiviral and antiseptic properties, can be a potent remedy for cold sores. Dilute a few drops in a carrier oil and apply to the affected area to help reduce swelling and redness.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has been shown to have virucidal effects against HSV. Its cooling sensation also soothes the skin, relieving the itching and burning of cold sores.

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm is another herb with antiviral properties that can be effective against HSV. Applying creams or lip balms that contain lemon balm might help to heal blisters more quickly.

Ice Packs

Applying ice or a cold compress to the cold sore can help to reduce redness, swelling, and pain. This is a simple yet effective way to get relief during outbreaks.

Aloe Vera

The natural soothing properties of aloe vera can be beneficial for cold sore sufferers. Aloe vera gel can hydrate the skin and accelerate the healing process of blisters.

Acetone - Most Popular Cold Sore Remedy on Earth Clinic

Among natural remedy enthusiasts, acetone has garnered attention as a popular treatment for cold sores, primarily based on reader feedback at Earth Clinic. While not a traditional remedy, some individuals report that applying acetone — commonly found in nail polish remover — to a cold sore can dry it out, potentially reducing the healing time.

To use acetone for a cold sore, users typically apply a small amount with a cotton swab directly to the blister, carefully avoiding the surrounding skin. This application is often suggested to be repeated several times daily at the first sign of tingling or outbreak.

However, it's essential to approach this remedy with caution. Acetone is a strong chemical solvent that can irritate or harm the skin, especially with repeated use. There is limited scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness and safety of acetone for cold sores, and it is not a recommended treatment by healthcare professionals.

Dietary Changes

Boosting your immune system through a healthy diet rich in vitamins C and E can help manage and prevent outbreaks. Foods like oranges, spinach, nuts, and seeds are excellent choices.

Sun Protection

Exposure to sunlight can sometimes trigger a cold-sore outbreak. Using lip balms with SPF or wearing a wide-brimmed hat can protect against harmful UV rays.


In summary, natural remedies for cold sores focus on reducing symptoms and speeding up the healing process. By employing these methods, you can manage cold sore discomfort safely and effectively.

Read below to learn which natural remedies helped Earth Clinic readers heal cold sores quickly!

Related Links:

Effective Natural Treatments for Genital Herpes Relief
Genital HPV Remedies


71 User Reviews
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Posted by earth is a pancake (chiraq, illinois.) on 09/09/2023

When I read about cold sores and acetone - I thought these people had lost their minds!! ... but this last time I had a bad case sold sore, two locations on lower lip about 5-6 bumps / bulbs, 3-4 of them were getting oversized, I looked horrible - and hurt like a mofo.

I used a q-tip to dip in a home depot purchased acetone container and applied throughout the day starting in the afternoon. Without any exaggeration, and with outmost sincerity, it worked for me. By the end of the day 10 pm or so - the size of the bumps/bulbs decreased to about 25% from the large size of that same morning. I could not believe it. I asked my roommate, just to make sure I was not losing my mind and going blind...

By the next morning, the bumps decreased more in size, and a small scabs started to appear - signaling the healing process has begun... I only applied once or twice the second day.

Don't ingest the powerful acetone, careful breathing in the fumes - I held my breath as much as possible, sealed my lips / mouth while applying with q tip soaked. Acetone evaporates very quickly, so application time is short.. Think I applied about 10 times from afternoon til midnight the first day.

Hope this helps!

Replied by V

Be Careful with Acetone!

Acetone is so powerful it will take the paint right off your car!

You are using it to kill the virus, this shouldn't take more than 1 day, once the virus is dead, meaning the cold sores stop growing and developing, you need to stop using acetone, it is used to kill the virus, not to heal the cold sore, the healing process happens naturally, the more you leave it alone the quicker it will heal.

Posted by Whathadhappendedwas (Florida) on 08/28/2023

Acetone is the best remedy I've tried. I get the big swollen lip. Others have said to keep it on for five minutes. However, I kept it on for a min or so at a time. I did it about 20 times the first day.

My lip went down after a couple hours. I then poked the blister with a needle and got the fluid out. Next day it crusted over. Did the acetone all day again but maybe fewer times. Third day was just a scab. Did the acetone a few more times just in case. Now I'm just waiting for the scab to come off. I'm on the fourth day. It usually takes a week before it scabs over. I guess I'll be doing this from now on.

Posted by Sweetpeasal (Duarte, CA) on 10/25/2022

I have suffered with cold sores my whole life. After spending a day out in the sun, I could feel my lip starting to swell (you know the feeling). I frantically looked online to see if there was some new remedy out there. I discovered this site and saw so many good reviews about acetone I figured I'd give it a try. (I used to use BHT and lysine but that ceased to work for me.)

Miracle of miracles, the acetone worked! Several times of the day, I would press a q-tip dipped in 100% acetone onto the area until it stung and then removed it. The cold sore never even got to the tingle phase. By day two my lip was slightly swollen but only about a third of what it normally would have been. By day three it was 10% swollen with a simple scab that could be covered with lipstick. No blisters even. Unbelievable. A week later, the small scab is still there, but the sore is clearly receding to nothing.

Where has this been my whole life?! The acetone must just kill the virus! Thank you all for sharing your experience with this amazing remedy! So helpful.

Posted by naturalremedies101 (orlando, fl ) on 08/11/2022

My bottom lip was tingling all day. At the end of the day around 6pm, I looked in a zoom-in mirror and could see the horrendous 3 bumps forming. I immediately began applying acetone. I did this for 30 seconds-1 min at a time up every 20-30 minutes up until I went to bed around 10pm. I worked the next day and could still see the bumps, but they did not pop or grow. I went ahead and applied and applied nail polish remover in the morning before going to work and once in the afternoon. When I got home, I applied it again until I went to sleep multiple times. I kept a cotton pad with acetone on until it burned too much. On day 3, there was no longer a coldsore forming! I can't believe this actually worked :)

Replied by beverly

Acetone is not the safest chemical in the world so I would use a q tip so as to target the sore better rather than a cotton ball.

acetonefaq.pdf (

Posted by Gemma (Lancashire) on 07/17/2022

Last summer I had a beast of a cold sore. It was 6 in one!! I hadn't had one in about 15 years so it was very weird. Probably from vaccine shedding from other people.
For some reason I didn't think to check on here until about day 5. I tried acetone but the skin was already broken and it made it 10 times worse and left a scar too.

I think acetone must be used at the first signs and would be very effective but not once the skin has broken.

Posted by GILLIAN (CA) on 07/10/2022

I haven't gotten cold sore breakouts very often but have had them since I was a child. I've even gone years without an outbreak. When I would get one it would be mild and I'd combat it with Lysine and oil of oregenal both orally and topically. Usually they wouldn't even get to a blister with this treatment. However, I recently had a really large one come out on my bottom lip and it took forever to come down and heal. What a pain! The area is still slightly raw and sensitive. Over the long weekend of the 4th of July I got a lot of sun and didn't drink enough water, drank alcohol and got totally dehydrated. I felt my lip burning. I woke up with 3 huge ones on my bottom lip coming up into blisters!!!

Panicking I scoured the internet and saw Cheri's post from 2021. I tried it and put acetone on each one with a q-tip for about 20 seconds each and 1 DAY LATER they had all scabbed over!!

This would have been at least a week or more without this remedy! Thank you!!

Posted by Cheri S. (Wellington, Florida) on 03/18/2021

My husband had his first cold sore at 42 years old. Neither of us even knew what it was at first. He is very tough when it comes to pain and this thing was excruciating for him. I found this suggestion on Earth Clinic, thank God. He said there was a huge relief with the very first application of acetone. He applied it with a cotton ball only 4- 5 times a day (yes, it burns, but definitely worth it). He is on day 3 now and it is significantly smaller, scabbed over, and he has almost no pain or swelling on his lip. This would have been a miserable 2 week experience if it weren't for you all posting your effective treatments. Thank you Earth Clinic!!

Replied by Sarab

Does acetone make them stay away? Just wondering because I use selenium (selenomethionine) and I don't get cold sores any more. I take 1 200mcg capsule a day although I started by taking 2 200mcg capsules a day for about 10 months.

Posted by Jennifer (San Francisco) on 11/24/2020

Acetone for cold sores works. I also have used ice directly early on for a few hours off and on and that helps too.

However, the MOST important thing you can do to PREVENT cold sores is to NEVER consume ANY artificial sweeteners, which all contain aspartame, including almost any type of gum these days, diet sodas, diet drinks of ANY form, etc, as the aspartame WAKES the virus and activates cold sores. I have not had a cold sore in many years as a result of avoiding aspartame. Hope this helps someone.

Posted by Craig (Albany, Oregon) on 10/17/2018

Wow! Another satisfied acetone customer. I wish everything worked so well.

Posted by Jerome (New York) on 07/04/2018 7 posts

Another YEA for acetone for cold sores. I've gotten cold sores since I was a child, sometimes so deep it looked like someone put out a cigarette on my lip. Now I soak a cotton ball with acetone and press it to the cold sore for 20 seconds and after 2 or 3 applications the cold sore is on its way out. Every time.

Such a brilliant remedy, so cheap and SO much more effective than any expensive cream or Valtrex.

Posted by Firm Believer (Nyc) on 12/21/2017

Absolutely, positively and without fail works 100% of the time

I'm 42 and I've gotten cold sores my whole life. Like all of you, I too have tried everything I could get my hands on including Dr. prescribed meds. Nothing. Ice seems to chill them out for a bit - but they always came back with a vengeance. I found that acetone works 100% of the time. 100%. I honestly don't care what any naysayer says. It's really that good. If you catch it at the tingle stage, then it stops there. If you catch it at the blister stage, the blisters immediately go down and your at the scab stage. Even that goes quicker. This is the closest thing to a medical miracle that I've experienced. The folks who suffer from this virus would understand that statement. I keep a little bottle of acetone in my home, my car, at work and in my luggage.

Posted by Jordan D (Georgetown, Tx) on 12/13/2017

Read about this little home remedy yesterday after noticing a cluster of cold sores pop up on my lip when I woke up yesterday morning. Some of the reviews were good and some bad. I decided in a panic and with my wedding only 2 days away that it was worth a shot to try. Not big on the home remedies, but I have been getting cold sores since I was 5 years old (now 26), I have used any and all cold sore medicines, creams, tablets, you name it! None of which have been even close to successful! Last night before bed I held a cotton ball with fingernail polish remover over the nasty cluster of sores on my lip for about 6 minutes. The original post had advised leaving the cotton ball with the polish remover on the affected area for 30 minutes... YES 30 MINUTES. (Not sure how I feel about that one.) I noticed after the 6 minutes that the color of my lip was getting darker and out of fear for it bruising I went ahead and removed it. Immediately I noticed a difference in the affected area. It looked so much better! After wards I cleaned the affected area with hydrogen peroxide on another cotton ball and went to bed. I woke up this morning and to my surprise the clusters were no longer filled with that nasty liquid, they already had a nice scab on them ( the scab was almost the same color as my lips, as it did not look dark or irritated) By lunch time today everything is back to its original color, the scabs are almost completely gone, and the cluster is no longer noticeable unless I stand very close to the mirror. I am definitely forever in favor of this little remedy! Pretty surprised that such a simple solution works after spending TONS of money on medicines for it for 21 years! OH also...after using the nail polish remover BUT before using the hydrogen peroxide I gently cleaned the affected area with my fingers using luke warm tap water and antibacterial hand soap.

Good luck!!!

Posted by Kcarey (Dublin, Ireland) on 02/09/2017

Nail varnish remover (acetone) on cotton wool held on cold sore for 10 mins a few times a day.

I cannot overemphasize how much this works; I currently have a very big very sore collection of cold sores & I tried nail varnish remover (as I read it somewhere else) & I could not believe how much it helped within an hour! It sounds drastic & it does sting a lot but the pain is over quickly & cold sore is drastically improved after 1 go!

I've tried everything in the past; taking lysine (cold sores still appeared), zovirax on first tingle (actually think moistening it made it come out not disappear), dabbing with alcohol (helps a v small bit), doing a lot of different stress management techniques to avoid triggers (sleep, exercise, eating well) all to no avail; the nail varnish remover is the only thing where I've actually seen a difference.

One thing I will say about prevention that works is not to let your lips get chapped; most of the times I get a cold sore its after my lips are v dry and chapped; they crack & then out pops a cold score.

I hope it helps someone else.

Posted by Concerned (Georgia ) on 01/12/2016

I have suffered from cold sores ever since I was in elementary school. I am currently 20 years old. I usually get cold sores once a year. But this past year (2015), I got two of them. To top that off, I got one at the beginning of the new year. These are the WORST. I have tried nearly everything. This past time I had a cold sore, I read on the internet that nail polish remover really works. And man was that right! I caught mine before it got too bad.

I put the acetone on it once every hour of the day. Hold it for 20 seconds, IT WILL BURN! But it works. The next morning, my cold sore was almost gone. It wasn't even noticeable! I continued the process of applying acetone every hour of the day until it was gone.

It also helps to take the vitamin L-lysine. I also drink plenty of milk when I have cold sores, because milk also contains lysine.

I hope this was helpful!

Replied by Andie

Tried it. didn't work!!! Very disappointed... Made it spread. So mad!

Posted by Annie (Providence, Ri) on 11/18/2015

Acetone worked very well for me. I get cold sores about once a year, usually in the Fall, when my lips start to chap from the cold. I didn't hear about Acetone soon enough to prevent the outbreak of my first cold sore this year - I was already on day 3 after the blisters had broken when I discovered this remedy. I started using it then - and it did speed healing greatly! In fact, it worked so well that I figured I didn't need to use it anymore, that my cold sore would be nearly gone by the next day or so, so I stopped using it. Unfortunately, when I stopped, it got worse the next day. I had to start using it again to see improvement. It made a huge difference in the speed of healing and that was with spotty/very late use!

Also - normally when I have a cold sore outbreak I get at least one or two, sometimes up to four in a row. Sure enough, I started getting not one but two more as the first began healing. I hit them with the Acetone on a cotton swab, pressing it into the newly forming bump/blisters, for at least 30 seconds, at least once every two hours for one day. By the next day - both were completely gone - they never continued forming!

A couple of days later, I started getting yet another, right next to where the first one was. I put Acetone on about every two hours or so, all day long. The next day - the swelling, bump and forming blisters are GONE! Completely! I feel confident that I will never have another cold sore again as long as I catch it in time and always have 100% pure Acetone on hand.

Replied by Ed
(Seattle, Wa)

My diet is somewhat acidic. I would experience cold sore attacks every other week. I stopped taking daily multivitamins due to high L-arinine content of solid multivitamin pills. I have been eating roman lettuce, green cabbage, carrots and other vegetables every day starting this summer.

I had only 1 instant of tingling and reddish color on my lower lip where cold sores would appear before. Tingling, inflammation and skin redness went away in minutes after applying acetone.

Replied by Kate

Do you continue using acetone after the blisters have turned to scabs? I just got my first outbreak ever and my lips are covered top and bottom and inside with sores. I used acetone and it helped bring to the scabbing stage, but do I continue or let it heal itself from now on?


Hey! I would not recommend putting acetone on already formed scabs. It's hard... but you need to just let the scabs heal on their own. I have learned this from experience more than anything. Good luck!


No, acetone is an extremely powerful chemical, it will strip the paint right off your car, so you want to be careful and not hold it for too long in one place.

The acetone is used to kill the virus, if you cover any living thing in acetone it will die, same with the virus, once the virus is dead it scab over and start the healing process, the more you mess with the scab, the more you risk leaving a scar, so no more acetone after the virus is dead, you can tell it is dead because it is no longer growing larger and it no longer has that tingly feeling when you push down on it.