How to Heal a Cold Sore Faster and Reduce Pain With Natural and OTC Remedies

Updated on October 18, 2017
retromellie profile image

I suffer from cold sores, and I've spent years upon years trying to find a cure. No cures yet, but these are the remedies that help me.

Some essentials for the cold sore virus battle.
Some essentials for the cold sore virus battle.

Do you suffer from little sores or lumps on either your mouth or your nose? I do, and I have spent years upon years trying to find a cure. Unfortunately, I haven't found a cure yet, but I have found some remedies that reduce the severity or duration of these unsightly nasties. In some instances, the remedies even stop them from emerging in the first place.

First, it is important to define if you do in fact have a cold sore. A cold sore is defined by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and it often presents itself in times of stress or illness when your immune system is low. They can also pop up when the weather is very hot (causing sunburn) or really cold and windy (windburn). The presence of one on your mouth is usually characterized by one lump or a cluster of smaller bumps that turn to water blisters and eventually burst. Sores on your nose are usually caused when you are run down and have a cold. Frequent rubbing or irritation of your nose causes very tiny cuts in the delicate skin—which, combined with bacteria and the herpes simplex virus, can cause a very nasty cluster of little blisters. In some cases, it can overtake your whole nose and make it look more like impetigo, or something equally unsightly.

I have suffered all of these and have tried many remedies. I have found a few more useful than others, and now I turn to only a few tried-and-true methods.

Remedies for Sores on the Mouth

Often you can be alerted to knowing there is one just ready to pop up. This is often characterized by a tingling on an area of your mouth or your whole mouth feeling itchy for no apparent reason. If you get this sign, you are sometimes able to stop the virus in its tracks and sometimes escape the embarrassing week or two to come. My top 3 methods that have 50% of the time ensured there was no outbreak was to take a herbal Lysine/L-Lysine tablet, use ice and put on a topical cream - my preference is Nyal. As I mention preferred supplements below, always consult your doctor before incorporating a new supplement into your diet, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.


An animo acid and essential in the human body. Lysine is not naturally in the body, but rather comes from food or supplements and if your body is lacking or deficient it can sometimes result in your body producing the virus - causing an outbreak (if you have previously been exposed). Some studies have suggested the use of Lysine is helpful to prevent outbreaks of the HSV as it has antiviral effects. About ten years ago I suffered a cold sore every month for at least a year and it wasn't until a girl in the local health store told me to try Lysine that I found a massive improvement. I believe I am able to stop 75% of cold sores on my mouth now due to these supplements and taking them at the first sign or symptom seems to make them heal quicker. I always have some tablets handy and if I am feeling particularly run down or stressed I will take one of these. Also if I have the itchy/tingly feeling I will immediately take one. Lysine is also found in a lot of foods, so it doesn't hurt to add these things a bit more into your diet on an everyday basis to help combat the virus.


Another method to stop this nasty virus in its tracks is to use ice. Ice is also good as it numbs the pain and throbbing usually associated with cold sores and if you have missed the first signs and have developed the start of a cold sore this can help stop the virus in its tracks so at least it can help prevent it from getting bigger. The best thing about ice is usually you will be at home or work and will be able to get some of this and hold it on the sore for a good 10 - 15 minutes without too much hassle.


Use a topical cream such as Nyall or Zovariax. I personally find Nyall to be the best one and I always use it even if I just have dried chapped lips as it seems to sooth. The creams are great as they soothe the sore as well as treat it. If I suspect a cold sore developing I will use the cream as a preventative or as a treatment if it has shown up. There are quite a few brands on the market so just see what suits you. Just be careful with slathering too much on if your in public as its quite a thick white cream and is not really classified as a fashion statement.


Compeed or Zovariax patches are another recent development in the cold sore department that I have found to help. I usually only use these patches once there is a slight outbreak and usually only at night before bedtime. I have found quite a few times that if I put it on before slumber, the lump is significantly reduced or gone by morning. The only problem with these patches is that its almost impossible to get them to sit invisabiily on your lip so this is why I opt to wear them at night. It seems to be mostly my method as removing the tabs leave a crease, but otherwise they are quite discreet.

Alternate Methods

So those are my fail safe methods for cold sores on the mouth that I have used in the past, but there are a few other methods I have come across and tried and they seem to assist, but are a bit more hassle than the ways listed above.

  • Garlic - Directly rubbing a clove onto the cold sore is said to heal the cold sore, but this may cause some social issues for the obvious reasons. Best to use at night.
  • Toothpaste - Works the same as zapping your pimples and helps dry it out quicker.
  • Milk - Also great to use for your nose - more details below.

Remedies for Cold Sores on the Nose

Cold sores on the nose are just as if not more painful and embarrassing, but do take a slightly different way of being treated. I have had this happen, but when I went to the doctor I was prescribed antibiotics and told I had Impetigo. I knew this was not the case when the antibiotics did not work and all I wanted was my nose to be removed as the throbbing pain was unbearable. This took a bit more treatment than the mouth cold sores and I also found it to be A LOT more painful. So whilst the lysine and ice are definitely encouraged for this treatment there are a few other things that seem to work in reducing the severe pain and heal the unsightliness quicker.


So supposedly you are supposed to use raw or organic milk to use this method however I found a lot of relief from just using regular store bought milk. Basically put a little cold milk in a cup and dip in a cotton ball and press it on the cold sore for a couple of minutes, grab a new cotton ball and repeat a few times (do not re-dip the used cotton bud). The reason milk is so effective is because it contains immunoglobulins which are proteins that work as antibodies to help fight viruses. Milk also contains lysine which can assist with the cold sore when applied topically. Using the cold milk will act as a treatment as well as soothe the pain, tingling, and redness and can speed up the healing process of the virus.

Licorice Root

I take these supplements as they contain the ingredient glycyrrhizin which is believed to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties, which can assist with combating the symptoms of HSV. You can also break open the capsule and mix a little with milk or honey and use it topically on the sore which is believed to work also.

Manuka Honey

A great treatment for cold sores and I have effectively used it a few times - the biggest downside is its sticky and does have a tendency to melt after a few minutes so you have to keep the application light and often about 5 times a day. I use it mostly for my nose and it heals the sore and softens any scabbing that in turn reduces scarring and heals the sore a lot quicker. With Manuka Honey, you are best to get one with a higher UMF rating as this is the extra ingredient that other honeys do not contain. Manuka honey is said to be able to destroy skin bacteria and acts as a natural anaesthetic. It can be purchased in pharmacies or in the health food sections of a supermarket.

Sea Salt

Along with warm water, it stings a little but is great if you have no other treatments available. Sea salt acts as keeping the infection clean and can help dry it up sooner. Also helps to not spread the virus when blistering. Just dab it on with cotton ball or bud.

Bactroban Nasal Ointment

It is an over the counter treatment, I have found this to be a great savior with my cold sores on my nose as it seems to soothe the area and stops it from worsening. If I have a cold or feel a tingling sensation on my nose this cream is perfect to pop on as a preventative, and also putting a little up your nose as this can stop the infection spreading. Bactroban nasal ointment is used for the treatment of skin infections.

Final Preventive Measures

Always remember to use clean towels and face washers and change your pillowcase daily to help prevent the spread to other areas. Also it is wise to change your toothbrush as soon as the sore has gone to prevent the virus on the toothbrush reinfecting you. Also once the cold sores are healing add some Vitamin E, B and Zinc supplements to your diet to help promote the healing of your skin and decrease scaring. Another thing to remember when you have a cold sore is that you are generally run down so adding some immune boosting supplements can't hurt either. Good luck, chin up, and remember the worst will be over in a week or two at most!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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    • profile image


      2 years ago from Naracoorte, Sth Aust

      What works for cold sores in the nose that are 3 weeks old? I copped one on the chin as well, but was too ill with a 14 day migraine to tend to them as soon as they appeared, now they are just embarrassing

    • retromellie profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Australia

      Hi Nikki, I feel your pain....I hope some of these methods work for you and at least minimise the pain and embarrassment a little. All the best! :)

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thank you fir sharing! I feel embarrassed and afraid due to these outbreaks. ...

    • profile image

      Sick of Suffering 

      6 years ago

      I had a bad case of the common flu last week and I always get cold sores on my nose and sometimes upper lip - I hit the jackpot this week because I got it on both my nose and upper lip *sigh* I usually use Papaw Ointment but it didn't seem to be working so I started using TEA TREE OIL!! Works wonders I tell you! it felt like an alien was growing on my face but once I used the Tea Tree Oil it dried it up straight away Yes it felt like it was burning but also felt soothing - I just clean it with a face cloth and warm water first and with a Q-Tip I dip it in the Tea Tree Oil and apply it to my nose and upper lip when needed!! Hope this helps anyone out there!!

    • retromellie profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Australia

      Thank so much for the tip floridamom, I have never heard of lime or Melaleuca to treat coldsores, but definitely try these next time to assist in beating these nasties. Its such a horrible thing so every tip to provide a little glimmer of hope is great to know....Thanks for sharing all the best to you in the future :)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I frequently get these nasty, painful nuisances especially after a bad cold. Usually from skin getting irritated after a lingering cold form blowing my nose frequently. Do NOT pop themas tempting as it may be. I usually use lime. Yes I said lime. Cut a piece and place it on those nasty bubbles for about 15 minutes. They WILL pop without all the unnecessary pressure from your fingers. The only way for it to start healing is when scabs. This speeds that process and also cuts infection. Recently, I have came across "Melaleuca" clarity acne spot treatment. Obviously not for blisters but it works. This works like a miracle to hurry up and dry that sucker out. Will it burn? YES. So will the lime. But the next day inflammation will start to go down. Expect to have redness. It is only typical as your skin heals. I have not tries the Lysine supplements but I definitely will now that I am aware that the help PREVENT them. Thanks for the tip :) HAPPY HEALING


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