Cold Sores
Natural Remedies

Cold Sore Relief: Top Natural Remedies

| Modified on Feb 14, 2024
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 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 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!

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 Laurie C. (Qualicum Beach, Canada) on 12/31/2020 3 posts

Iodine For Cold Sore On Lip

A nasty cold sore arose on my bottom lip. After 2 days of it annoying me I decided to put a drop of Lugol's iodine on it. Yes, it burned for a few minutes, but, I think it killed it outright. I put another drop on later in the day just to be sure. The next day I noticed it had flattened out quite a lot, then, in a few days a scab peeled off in two very thin layers and my lip looked completely normal. I could not believe it!

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.

Oregano Oil
Posted by Miku (England, Uk) on 04/20/2018

I've suffered with cold sores for years. They erupt violently and take ages to go. I read about oregano oil on here and thought I'd give it a try. Wow! The first outbreak died in 24 hours. I diluted 4/5 drops of oregano oil in water and dabbed it on my lip when I felt the tingles. It rose over night and had crusted over by morning.

The second outbreak didn't even happen. It sort of bubbled under the surface then didnt bother coming up. Haven't had one since.

Posted by Happyhappy (Del Mar, California) on 08/30/2014

Garlic works!

I have had this virus since I was 5 or 6, maybe younger for all I know, but I just remember first finding out I had a cold sore. I honestly thought it was a type of cold, and I never knew there was a stigma behind them until I was about 22. Once I figured out people have the audacity to look down on people with this virus (even though they likely have it too), I became very stressed whenever I would have an outbreak. I never knew you could stop one until I researched it. Learning about garlic on this Earth Clinic website, I had to try it, especially since I usually buy too much and have it lying around for about 3 months at a time.

I hear people talking about a garlic supplement not working, but I am talking about FRESH garlic. I personally cannot chance an outbreak by using a garlic pill when I have the real deal fresh garlic. You can buy a couple of bulbs of garlic and it will last for quite some time (I've had my garlic for almost two months, and even though it may not be as pretty as new garlic, once you cut it, that fresh garlic juice is there). I just cut a small sliver (just take a knife and take a flat slice from biggest part of the garlic so it will cover a larger area, which can help kill the virus on AND around the offending area) from a clove and hold the little sliver against my lip. I do this if I feel a tingle, if I bite too much dry skin off my lip (bad habit), if I feel discomfort of any sort around my lips/mouth, or even question an upcoming outbreak, I go on and press that fresh sliver against my lip, and that is EXACTLY what you should do in those cases too.

The nice thing about garlic is that you can even use it IN the mouth, whereas many other things (i.e. alcohol, nail polish remover) cannot be used for blisters inside the mouth.

Even if you have a blister when you wake up, ice it for as long as you can to calm down the swelling and numb the lip, then immediately grab your garlic clove, cut a sliver off (save the remainder of the clove, this way, as you need more, you can keep cutting slivers off throughout the day, thus releasing more fresh juice every time you use it. ) The Garlic will send the active virus to hell where it belongs and you should notice your blister rapidly receding, as the garlic will not only obliterate the active virus, but don't lick your lips after applying the garlic, because the garlic should help dry that sucker out.

(When you get to the last possible piece of your garlic, it may be dry because there is not more garlic to cut off to release the juice. If this is the case, just gently squeeze the last piece to release the juice, and it will be good to go! )

Anytime you think, know, doubt, assume, wonder, or question rather or not a cold sore is coming, USE THE FRESH GARLIC. I recommend using it every couple of hours to ensure you won't get a breakout during times you need it, however, I've used it once on red swollen skin (the stage RIGHT BEFORE impending blister) and feel asleep, and next morning, nothing. If you fall asleep, just use more garlic next day.

WARNING: You will have to man/woman up for this, as the garlic MAY cause an extreme burning sensation as you press it on the offending area. Sometimes it barely burns, especially if my lips are not cracked or damaged, and sometimes my mouth, eyes, and nose water because it hurts so bad. But I deal with it, because it is less painful than walking around feeling like you have a black eye on your lip. Embarrassing.

Summary & Tips:

  • Buy FRESH GARLIC and just keep it around. The juice inside the garlic will be there a very long time, so even old looking garlic can be cut to release juice with that power garlic "medicine."
  • You only need to cut a sliver off of the garlic each time you need some garlic, as each flat sliver has the "miracle" garlic juice on it.
  • If in doubt and if you have an outbreak, still use the garlic. It may even possibly kill the virus on the skin (the shedding) to help protect others or spreading to other parts of your body (please still use ALL the safety precautions that you would use if you had giant oozing blister on your mouth.)
  • Carry a clove of garlic in your car, backpack, purse, etc. It may not be legal to carry a knife (especially if minors and/or anyone at an educational institute), so carry something that can help you release the juice from the garlic. Plastic knife, spoon, even a sanitized filer on nail clippers.
  • Don't forget to brush your teeth! You don't know how many people admit they forgot to brush their teeth the day/night before an outbreak. The virus loves moist and unclean. Also, avoid toothpastes with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (sls), as it is believed to cause outbreaks.
  • You may want to gargle with peroxide to kill the viruses that may be throwing a party in your mouth. I also take a piece of cotton, paper towel, or even toilet paper (anything disposable) and put some peroxide on it, and clean my lips and mouth area to also help remove any shedding I may not be aware of.
  • In between outbreaks, always keep lips moist with something that helps prevent outbreaks. Something with lysine, an antiviral essential or even some balm that if for cold sores. Just use something to help keep these at bay.

Thanks to everyone who sticks around to read this long post.

Good look and be happy!

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 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!!

Colloidal Silver
Posted by Art (California ) on 10/19/2018 2076 posts

A friend of mine recently got a cold sore / herpes sore on her upper and lower lip. She tried colloidal silver applying twice a day and both sores were gone in three days or less. I told her next time to apply a CS wetted cotton ball and tape it to her lip area so the silver can have plenty of time and material to do its job in contact with the sore. On the second day she told me she thought it was reversing because she felt much less "pressure" at the location of the sore. By the end of the second day, the sore was obviously diminished!


Lugol's Iodine, Coconut Oil
Posted by Maria K. (Frankfurt, Germany) on 08/19/2021 6 posts

In the Past I used to get cold sores on my lips almost every month. That was so annoying and painful. Three years ago I visited my homeland and being a guest and having parties with friends and relatives ate spicy dishes with ketchup and drank so much soft drinks that at the end of my journey when next night I had a flight for Germany I felt tingling on my lips, alarming cold sore is coming.I wanted urgent relief and want to stop it on its way, because I did not want to travel in constant pain and looking horible with swollen lips.I had Lugols Iodine 5% and coconut oil at hand.

In desperation I took 5 drops of Lugols Iodine and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil after 4 hours took another dose of 5 drops of Iodine and coconut oil. After 2 hours I felt a little relief in tingling on lips and cold sore stopped getting bigger.After 2 hours before depature of my flight I took third time 5 drops of Lugol's Iodine and no more coconut oil.In aeroplane I was sitting relaxed and happy with my family, no more tingling and pain.So quick relief I had never in my life.When I reached home the little sore had turned brown.So in the last three years I did not have a single episod of herpes because at the first sign of herpes I start this protocol, always works like a charm.Now I can eat spicy and sour dishes, ketchup, nuts and soft drinks in moderation without any fear of getting herpes.

I take daily 4 drops of Iodine for general health too.

I think same protocol will work for gentials Herpes too.

Olive Leaf Extract
Posted by Jake (Madison Wi ) on 11/22/2017

I started getting cold sores about once a month sometimes twice and eventually read about olive leaf extract. I started taking them. 4 per day, 2 in the morning and at night. It seems like it took forever, but months later they stopped and so far I haven't had a single one in nearly 2 years. I have not been checked to see if the virus is gone or not, but I'm not complaining. I also combined with lysine pills. Eventually I reduced my dosage to 2 per day and then eventually just one pill a day of the olive leaf extract. I'm extremely grateful to God and for the information I came across that lead me to it. I had to stick with it and it did take months to work, but totally worth it.

Posted by Anon (Anon) on 11/09/2015

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!

Oregano Oil
Posted by J. (Minneapolis, Mn) on 03/03/2010

I have been a cold sore sufferer for about 20 years and I usually get between 10-35 or so a year and they range from the size of a pea to a quarter. They are usually in my nose or on the skin between my nose and it is safe to say I'm a chronic cold sore sufferer, especially during cold weather and I live up north. I honestly don't know what is worse, the pain or the humiliation as both are almost unbearable. I have tried every single prescription on the market over the years, every single over the counter treatment, and home remedies like daily lysine, ice, acetone fingernail name it.

For me there is one prescription (blue pill) that always worked best but the sore is still extremely painful for 2-3 days and then I have a scorched area of skin that turns scaly and then stays red for weeks afterword. Anyway, I have been trying to find a natural way to control or eliminate my cold sores and I came across Oil of Oregano so I thought I would give it a shot. (I am also taking 2 billion live cultures of acidopholis per day to strengthen my immune system.) And I am so so thankful that I did.

I started taking the OoO twice a day by putting 3-4 drops under my tongue and holding it for about 1-2 minutes and washing it down with 8-10 oz water. Before bed I also rub several drops on the base of my spine (where the virus lives) because OoO is supposed to penetrate the skin to directly combat the virus. (I have read that you might get a bad outbreak as the OoO clears the virus from your system so I was prepared for that.) Anyway, I have taken it for several weeks and I hadn't gotten a cold sore until I forgot to take it two days ago. Yesterday morning I felt the tingle of a cold sore coming on and immediately took a ____ and put Oil of Oregano on it and reapplied it 3-4x throughout the day. I noticed that the sore stayed very small and the Oil of Oregano reduced the usually unbearable burning pain and itching to almost nothing. I did get some blisters, but the sore was about 25% to 35% of the normal size of a cold sore for me with almost zero swelling, burning pain, or itching. It has now been around 36 hours since the first tingle and it is almost completely healed...and it was easily covered with a little powder when I was out shopping yesterday so no one else even knew. This stuff is AMAZING!!!! I also took a couple extra drops orally throughout the day so I was taking it orally and applying it to the sore directly.

Usually within 5-10 hours of the first tingle I have MAJOR burning and itching and there is always a lot of swelling the next morning when I wake up even if I take my prescription the second I feel the first tingle and another before bed. The sore usually lasts a couple of days and then I am left with the burned skin from the blisters which turns into a scab and then red skin for a couple of weeks afterward. With the Oil of Oregano I was able to keep the sore very small and nearly painless and it is almost healed within 36 hours. I am thrilled!! Every time I started to feel a bit of burning pain and itching I would gently reapply 1 drop of oil to the sore and it would immediately help a lot. The second day of a cold sore for me has always been full of serious burning pain, lots of swelling, and finally it is very very itchy as the virus starts to retreat. With Oil of Oregano I experienced almost nothing except a bit of redness and a warm sensation over my lip where the sore was. I can't say enough good things about Oil of Oregano and cold sores. I understand that I have only been using this product for about two weeks and this is my first cold sore that I have treated with it, but I can't tell you just how different this cold sore looked and felt from any other in the past 20 years. My husband couldn't believe it either. This is so much better than my prescription alone. Hopefully it will be a long time before I get another one since I'm taking the OoO to prevent them, but if/when I get the next one I will try OoO without my prescription at all. Hopefully I will have the same results as I really think it was the OoO alone that made the amazing difference in the pain and duration of this sore. I am going to check into how long I can take it daily. I don't want to do any damage to my liver or anything else by taking it for too long, but for now I am going to keep taking it for several months to try to eliminate my cold sores completely. If anyone has information on how long you can take it I would love to hear about it. I asked my pharmacist yesterday and he said that there has been no long-term research on daily usage of OoO, but he personally thinks this is much safer than almost anything else people use for cold sores.

If you suffer from cold sores, I hope this helps you as much as it has me!

In addition to the cold sores, I have used it to stop a sore throat within minutes, relieve my husband's migraine that his medication wouldn't touch, relieve my friend's bronchitis within 24-48 hours after two weeks on antibiotics weren't helping, clear an under the skin acne problem I wasn't even aware I had (experienced a bad breakout for a couple of days) and now my skin looks healthier than it ever has, shrink a cyst that my dermatologist wouldn't remove because it was too deep (within 2 weeks it has shrunk to half the size and is now flat), stop the pain and redness overnight from a hangnail that was really sore...and this is only after using this stuff for only a few weeks. I can't say enough amazing things about Oil of Oregano!! It is like a cure all for everything and that is just crazy!! Had I only know about this 20 years ago I could have saved myself thousands of dollars and years of pain and humiliation!!