Cold Sores
Natural Remedies

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Natural Cold Sore Cures

| Modified on Sep 02, 2021
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Treating cold sores involves avoiding common triggers, maintaining proper hygiene and applying or taking natural remedies to treat infection. Natural treatment options commonly function to treat sores from the inside out offering healing from the infection causing the sore. Additionally limiting stress, chocolate, artificial sweeteners and other exacerbating conditions may also prevent and treat cold sores.

What is a Cold Sore?

Cold sores can be described as small, blister-like lesions that occur around on the mouth and lips. The sores are typically filled with fluid, which eventually break and leave behind a rough crust.

The initial symptom of a cold sore most often involves a slight tingling or itching in a localized spot around the mouth. Once the sore has developed additional symptoms may occur including fever, sore throat and swollen glands. Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex 1 virus or herpes simplex 2.

Natural Remedies for Mouth Sores

Cold sores can often be treated by avoiding exacerbating conditions and allowing the lesion to heal on its own. Natural remedies can also be used to speed healing time and limit the negative effects of lesions. Some of the most effective treatments include vitamin C, l-lysine and myrrh oil.

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, taken regularly vitamin C can prevent the further onset of sores.


L-lysine is an amino acid or an essential element of protein. Taken 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.

Cold sores can be painful and unsightly lesions found around the mouth. Natural treatments, however, relieve the pain of the ulcers, shorten healing time and prevent future development of the condition.

Additional Pages of Interest:
Genital Herpes Remedies
HPV Remedies


64 User Reviews
5 star (57) 
1 star (7) 

Posted by Cheri S. (Wellington, Florida) on 03/18/2021
5 out of 5 stars

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!!

Posted by Jennifer (San Francisco) on 11/24/2020
5 out of 5 stars

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
5 out of 5 stars

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

Replied by Ann

I am so surprised you would use acetone, nail polish remover? I just wanted to make sure this is what you are using, that has chemicals in it.

Posted by Jerome (New York) on 07/04/2018 7 posts
5 out of 5 stars

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
5 out of 5 stars

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
5 out of 5 stars

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
5 out of 5 stars

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
5 out of 5 stars

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
5 out of 5 stars

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)
5 out of 5 stars

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!

Posted by Anon (Anon) on 11/09/2015
5 out of 5 stars

Acetone is working really well. Had the worst cold sore of my life a month ago and now a month later another one. I felt the tingling and immediately started with Hydrogen peroxide. Later read on here that acetone works very well too so I started using that. It has dried out the cold sore better than the HP. The cold sore is barely visible and has not swollen huge or burst or anything. it is Just red and a little swollen, It is very dried out and seems to be going straight to scabbing, although you cant really see a real "scab" its just dried out and dry skin but you cant tell unless you look real close in the mirror. This sore is in the same spot as the really bad one a month ago but also spread down the lip even more than the really bad one. I feel that if I would not have used the acetone this sore would have been the worst one ever. The first day I felt the tingling I used HP. The next day no sign of a sore but still put HP on it for about 10 min twice that day. Day 3 I woke up and the sore started to pop up like normally, reddish and a glossy bump. It wasn't too big, yet! It was about the size of Lincolns head on a penny. Immediately started to soak with acetone. It went down in swelling and dried out quick. Still red though. Next day, day 4, which is today, I woke up and it looked really good. swelling down still, still dried out, still a little red. Soaking in Acetone again this morning. Worked all day and it barely noticeable, barley swollen, barely red. Applying again tonight. I'm hoping that it continues to go down and not have a brown scab. Hopefully just dry crusty skin scab that you can't really see like it is now. So it should be healed within a week hopefully. which is amazing because before it would be a week before it even scabbed and then at least another week with bleeding nasty huge scab on my lip.

This is a GOD send, helping soo much. I am truly grateful!

Posted by Rick (Des Plaines, Il) on 11/30/2014
1 out of 5 stars

Sorry, for me acetone didn't seem to help even least. The only thing that has shown any evidence of helping me reduce the growth of a cold sore (especially if started early) is Lactoferrin (taken orally).

Posted by Sabrina (Toronto, Canada) on 11/26/2014
5 out of 5 stars

OMG!!! God bless the founder of this miracle. I AM ABSOLUTELY GRATEFUL IT WORKS. I woke up yesterday to the most disturbing painful sore on my lip. I used a warm green tea bag every 3 hours and pressed it against the cold sore for about 20 minutes. Later in the evening using a cotton swab I applied 100% pure Tea Tree Oil. (Please dilute with equal drops of water if you have sensitive skin) I searched the web for another home remedy and stumbled across this blog. To my surprise using the acetone for 5 minutes every 30 minutes dried up the remainder of the sore almost immediately. I felt the burning sensation but it was worth it. Thank you for this magical remedy.

Posted by Ems (Uk) on 10/31/2014
5 out of 5 stars

Felt the tingling early and thought I had stopped it with Zovirax but woke up this morning and it was huge. I burst it with a disinfected needle and have been pressing a cotton bud with nail polish remover into it and in 3 hours it has gone down in size by a third.

Replied by Rachelle
(Idaho, US)

Wow I have never heard of using acetone! I will be incorporating this along with what I have found to be most beneficial today! I'm 51 and have suffered all my life with cold sores clear back to my grade school days! I have always considered myself as the cold sore queen! hahaha With age comes experience for what has worked best for me. At the first sign I always take a fever reducer. I take this through out the day and I even take it at night before bed. This by far has been the best way for me to attack the cold sores before they attack me at night! This has kept that god awful swelling from happening over night! Along with helping out with the pain! Thanks for the advice on the acetone can not wait to try it!

Replied by Kim
(Ny, US)

Hi, read your post and really curious to know if it worked for you. I thought like we all do I suppose that I was the cold soar queen, but I see you are too. LOL... Mine come specifically with stress. I always know when it is about to come and can usually stop it with the medicine. They gave me a larger dose than I have heard normally because of how large one got once, so I get 1000mg of Valtrex. When it first starts the tingle I take 2 and if I was early enough it won't come at all.

This past week though I was away from home, knew it was coming and forgot the medicine... sure enough, BANG! However this time it is worse than it has ever been and I've had them so bad that once my lip was swollen 3" more than normal. This one goes from the middle of my upper lip two the corner of my mouth and that has never happened. Usually its one on the lip or above but this is like 4 of them together and is horrible. So I wonder did the acetone work for you??????

Posted by Mia (Formerly Of Lyons, Now Syracuse) on 12/17/2013
5 out of 5 stars

I have been using Retin-A for wrinkles. Problem is that everytime I use it, I break out in a cold sore. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

I am sick of it and was driven to try the nail polish thing again so I bought some today because taking L-Lysine wasn't touching this one. My lip was so swollen it wasn't funny. Then, another started to pop out in a different after I started to use the nail polish.

I had to use it more than a couple times. I have been putting it on with a cotton bud every hour or so by dabbing it until the cotton ball dries out . I haven't just let it sit there for five minutes because I don't really want to breathe the fumes in. So I dab it, breathe, dab it, etcetera until it dries out and then I do it again a bit later when the thing tries to moisten back up.

It is working because I am diligently attacking it.

The thing is already crusting over after one day and normally it would take five days to get this stage. I will definitely keep putting the acetone on until it is all dried up and gone.

I am also taking L-Lysine, which wasn't really working that well, along with Vitamin C. I am planning to continue to do both as a daily preventative.

Replied by Thehandyman1947
(Poland, Ohio)

Cold sores, the virus is highly contagous, when the blister is present, also you have a viral shedding once a year, no sign, but contagious. try DMSO and lugol's solutition in a spray bottle, ( lugol's solutition is a mixture of potassium, and iodine) 50/50 mix, this will take care of just about any infection, iodine is very powerful antiseptic, also myrrh oil or oil of wild oregano. Also when you have a blister it's a clear sign that your immune system is down so try to build up your immune system (vit c).

Posted by Lisa H. (Santa Barbara, Ca) on 11/18/2013
5 out of 5 stars

Thank you - Earth Clinic folks. The acetone works miracles! I awoke with that dreaded tingling feeling and tried using an 11 month old tube zovirax to no effect for the first half a day the cold sore just kept growing - and getting redder and itchier.

Then I jumped on earth clinic - and remembered the acetone trick. Thank goodness, the tingling stopped, it dried out and started to recede within 48 hours. It is taking a while to heal but is continuing to get smaller and smaller.

Chocolate is my #1 cold sore trigger. Each outbreak I have had in the past few years can be traced back to the effect of an overindulgence. Well THIS time I have learnt my lesson for sure.

Replied by Clare

Thankyou thankyou for listing that Chocolate is your trigger. In my 46 years, I have never ever made that connection. I have the worse cold sore epidemic on my mouth and chin at the moment after eating kg's of chocolate & cupcakes this week. Yes I'm a little piggy but the kinder. I blame my son's birthday party & the kinder for all that chocolate I should have sold for fundraising as I know I'm just gonna gorge. Now to find a piggy anonymous thread on google. Hope the acetone works.

Replied by Bronka

Thank you so much for pointing out the chocolate - cold sore connection!!!

I do not like sweets very much, but yesterday I got these delicious chocolates, I tried one and then I just could not stop eating them last night!

This morning I woke up with a cold sore. This will teach me a lesson.

I tried the acetone before and it definitely helped me . So I am going to do it again now.

Replied by Littlewing
(Boston, Ma)

Chocolate is definitely on the list of triggers for cold sores. My trigger is nuts, mostly peanuts and walnuts. It's the Arginine in them, which is the trigger and I believe counteracts Lysine as well, so do try to avoid overindulging. Others are seeds, carob, coconut, lentils, soybeans, spinach, raisins and a few others you can google.