9 Best Products to Help Get Rid of a Cold Sore
Dermatologists reveal their tips on how to get rid of cold sores using nine over-the-counter products you can buy on Amazon.
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How to get rid of cold sores
If you are prone to cold sores, also known as fever blisters, there’s likely little you wouldn’t try to lessen the pain, speed healing, or even just camouflage these blisters on your lips. Chances are, out of desperation, you have paid Dr. Google a visit and searched how to get rid of cold sores. You may have ended up with conflicting results and unsure of what is the best product for your blisters.
And the truth is, you are not the only one. Worldwide, about 3.7 billion people under age 50 have herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), the virus that causes cold sores. (Here’s how to tell if you actually have a canker sore, not a cold sore.) There is no cure for the virus, and these tiny, clear, fluid-filled blisters can last for weeks without treatment. Some people never develop any HSV-1 symptoms, while others may experience cold sore outbreaks several times a year. Luckily, our dermatologists reveal how to get rid of cold sores with these over-the-counter Amazon products that give you fast pain relief.
$29 for pack of two
This is the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved over-the-counter antiviral medication for cold sores, says Edidiong Kaminska, MD, a dermatologist and the medical director at Kaminska Dermatology in Chicago. For best results, apply Abreva (docosanol) at the first sign of an HSV-1 outbreak to shorten the duration of tingling, pain, burning, and itching. There are prescription antiviral creams and oral medications that can also help shorten the duration of the outbreak. Ask your doctor if these are right for you.
Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 50
Sun is a trigger for cold sore outbreaks, says Adam Friedman, MD, professor and interim chair of dermatology, department of dermatology, George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, in Washington, D.C. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on all exposed skin can reduce the number of outbreaks, he says. Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 50 is an Amazon’s Choice product that’s designed especially for your lips, which is where most HSV-1 cold sores appear.
Quantum Health Super Lysine+ Cold Sore Treatment
There is some evidence that suggests lysine may slow or prevent the growth of HSV-1, and menthol can help with the pain. “Menthol + lysine (Lysine +) cold sore treatment can help with pain/irritation of cold sores and may decrease viral activity and duration,” Dr. Kaminska says. Quantum Health Super Lysine+ Cold Sore Treatment contains both of these powerhouse ingredients. (Avoid making these mistakes to prevent dry lips.)
3-Pack SPF-15 Sunscreen Aloe Lip Balm
$7 for pack of three
The same aloe vera gel that is widely recommended for relieving sunburn pain may also help you treat an HSV-1 outbreak. A 2016 study in the Journal of Dentistry suggests that aloe vera gel may act as a potential topical treatment for HSV-1 due to its anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects. However, it’s important to note this study was conducted in test tubes and not in people. (Here are some other aloe vera uses you may not know.)
Orajel Moisturelock Cold Sore Symptom Treatment
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggests pain-relieving gels or ointments for painful cold sores, including those that contain benzocaine, such as Orajel’s moisturelock formula for cold sores. Other pain-fighting ingredients to look for on labels include lidocaine, dibucaine, or benzyl alcohol. Over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen may also help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with cold sores.
Smashbox Photo Finish Reduce Redness Primer
When it comes to how to get rid of cold sores, makeup is your beauty secret weapon. First off, never cover a cold sore until it crusts over, as the blisters are the most contagious and painful before they crust, says Dr. Kaminska. “You don’t want to manipulate the blisters,” she says. “Do not apply to open raw skin either, as this may cause further irritation and can increase the risk of infection.” If there is redness, you can use a green/yellow-based primer/concealer to neutralize the red color (such as Smashbox Photo Finish Reduce Redness Primer) once the cold sore has started to crust. (Got allergies? Here are some allergy makeup tips.)
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, Vanilla
A creamy heavy concealer that matches your skin tone such as NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer can be applied over the healing cold sore. “A very small amount goes a long way,” Dr. Kaminska says. “Make sure to apply makeup products with a disposable makeup sponge, and afterward, you may apply a makeup setting powder if needed.” (Here are the best foundations for your skin.)
Hilph Ice Packs for Kid’s Boo Boos, 3 Pack Kid’s Hot Cold Pack
$12 for pack of three
Cold sores can strike people of all ages, even children. Many people with HSV-1 first picked it up when they were preschool-aged. (HSV-1 can be dangerous for newborns, however, so you should never let anyone kiss your baby.) These kid-friendly Hilph ice packs can help take some of the sting away from a cold sore and may even put a smile on your child’s face.
- World Health Organization: "Herpes simplex virus"
- Medline Plus: "Herpes Simplex"
- Edidiong Kaminska, MD, dermatologist and medical director, Kaminska Dermatology, Chicago
- Adam Friedman, MD, professor and interim chair of dermatology, department of dermatology, George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, D.C.
- Journal of Dentistry: "Assessment of Anti HSV-1 Activity of Aloe Vera Gel Extract: an In Vitro Study"
- American Academy of Dermatology: "Cold sores: Tips for Managing"
- The Nemours Foundation: "Cold Sores (HSV-1)"