The best natural cold sore remedies don’t just help kill a cold sore fast they also help stop cold sores coming back over and over again.
So if you’re desperate to get rid of an ugly, painful cold sore overnight, it really is worth considering natural cold sore remedies in addition to over the counter cold sore treatments.
And that’s because to get rid of cold sores forever – or at least keep them under control – we really need to understand:
- What causes cold sores
- And what triggers cold sores to come back.
OTC cold sore treatments can kill a cold sore fast but unlike some natural cold sore remedies they don’t get to the bottom of why we have the cold sore in the first place.
So in this post I’m going to take you through what kills a cold sore fast – and answer questions on everything from whether toothpaste does actually help cold sores to whether the cold sore ice trick works and why vegans get cold sores – but also share simple natural cold sore remedies that help get rid of cold sores forever.
If you want very quick answers to specific cold sore questions, do use the index below.
And for more simple but effective home treatments check out my other natural remedies.
If you find these tips helpful please do bookmark for further reference and share on social media.
NB Please note I am not a doctor and this post does not provide qualified medical advice.
You should be aware that the virus which causes cold sores can be dangerous for newborn babies and you should avoid oral contact with a baby if you have a cold sore.
What Kills A Cold Sore Fast?
Simple natural cold sore remedies are brilliant for this because you can apply them at the first sign of a cold sore using simple ingredients you already have in your home.
First Symptoms Of A Cold Sore
The first symptoms of a cold sore are usually :
- typically on or around the lips
- but occasionally on the nose or chin.
Within 48 hours of these symptoms small bumps and then blisters with obvious fluid in them appear.
Fast Natural Remedies For Cold Sores
At the first sight of cold sore symptoms, ideally before the blister appears, try these natural cold sore remedies :
- Bathe gently with cooled black tea or tea made from rosemary, ginger, thyme or peppermint
- Apply a cold compress
- Dab with one of these natural antiviral treatments :
- Or with any of these natural cold sore remedies you have in your kitchen or bathroom cupboard
- Drink antiviral garlic tea
Some people recommend bathing the cold sore with salt water which may prevent it spreading but this can be painful.
Together these natural remedies can help:
- Fight the virus that causes cold sores
- Prevent it spreading around your mouth
- Ease the burning pain.
Unfortunately, they won’t get rid of a cold sore overnight that has already blistered and scabbed – nothing will – but if you act fast they can help prevent blistering and scabbing in the first place.
Fast Acting Antiviral Creams
You can buy OTC and prescription antiviral creams to treat cold sores but again they need to be applied ideally before the blister appears for them to kill a cold sore fast.
You are unlikely to have antiviral cream on hand for the first sign of a cold sore, so even if you are going to use them apply the fast natural cold sore remedies first until you can get antiviral cream.
Cold Sore Ice Trick
You may have heard about a cold sore ice trick that can get rid of a cold sore overnight.
All the “trick” amounts to is applying an ice cube to your lip at the first feeling of burning or tingling.
There is no clear evidence that ice actually kills the cold sore virus but it may help relieve the pain – as it can for mosquito bites – by stopping our bodies from over reacting. Much of the pain of a cold sore comes from our body’s reaction to it.
An ice cube straight out of the freezer however can actually burn us, so a cold compress is a better idea. Simply wrap an ice pack or ice cubes or frozen peas even in a clean dish cloth and hold to your lip for a few minutes.
Does Toothpaste Help Cold Sores?
Toothpaste is another popular home remedy for treating cold sores fast and there is actually some research evidence out there that explains why it can work.
Many toothpastes contain Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) and research suggests SLS can suppress the virus that causes cold sores.
Now, it all gets a bit complicated because advocates for natural toiletries tell us to avoid SLS whilst some scientists strongly refute these claims and say there is no evidence SLS in toiletries is a problem.
So, it is up to you.
If you happily use toothpaste containing SLS then dabbing your cold sore with it may help. Most Crest, Colgate & Aquafresh toothpastes contain SLS. Most Sensodyne toothpastes don’t.
But again, toothpaste will best help to get rid of a cold sore fast, if we act fast.
You need to apply toothpaste at the first sign of tingling or burning and keep applying every couple of hours, gently rinsing off with warm water before reapplying.
Some people claim toothpaste can still help cold sores after a blister appears and helps reduce and dry the blister quicker. There’s no specific evidence for this but the SLS may help.
There’s more advice here on using toothpaste to help cold sores.
OK. We have gone through what you need to do fast to kill a cold sore fast, so now let’s look at what actually causes and triggers cold sores so we can understand how to get rid of cold sores forever.
What Causes Cold Sores?
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus which is highly contagious. The virus can be spread from the first signs of tingling and burning right through until blisters have scabbed and finally healed.
So if we do have a cold sore it’s important to avoid oral contact – no kissing!! – and we do need to be careful about basic hygiene by not touching our face and washing hands and changing hand towels frequently.
But almost half of American adults already have the virus because once we catch it, we keep it.
And that means cold sores will come back over and over again if we don’t stay on top of what triggers cold sores.
What Triggers Cold Sores?
Once we have the herpes simplex virus the biggest triggers for cold sores are:
- A weak immune system
- Poor gut health
- And stress
So if you keep getting cold sores, then do address these underlying problems. These natural ways to prevent cold sores will help.
In addition to these general triggers for cold sores there are some specific issues that may trigger an outburst. These are:
- Perimenopause & menopause
- A vegan diet
- Over exposure to the sun
There are tips below on the best natural cold sore remedies for these triggers.
Can Your Period Give You A Cold Sore?
Some women do find that their period gives them a cold sore.
It is not clear exactly why women get cold sores at certain points in their menstrual cycle. Some claim raised stress hormones trigger cold sores and that relaxation is key.
But as with many menstrual cycle issues the trigger for cold sores may be:
- A weakened immune system due to iron deficiency
- Constipation that results in excess oestrogen, itself a trigger for stress.
Checking for and addressing an iron deficiency and relieving pre-period constipation may help prevent your period giving you a cold sore.
Can Perimenopause & Menopause Cause Mouth Sores?
Cold sores during both perimenopause and menopause can be triggered by the high levels of stress hormones that also trigger anger and anxiety. But cold sores may also be triggered by iron deficiency during perimenopause as heavier and more frequent periods are actually surprising early symptoms of perimenopause.
The best way to get rid of cold sores caused by perimenopause and menopause is to strengthen our immune system and rebalance our hormones with these natural perimenopause remedies.
Vegans & Cold Sores
We do need both lysine and arginine in our diet but eating more arginine than lysine can trigger cold sores.
Meat, fish and dairy are rich in lysine and contain more lysine than arginine.
Many staple vegan foods – essential for a healthy vegan diet – such as beans, nuts and seeds are rich in lysine but have much more arginine.
To prevent recurrent cold sores vegans need to rebalance their lysine & arginine.
You can read how to do this in Lysine for Cold Sores below.
Does Sun Exposure Trigger Cold Sores?
In some people over exposure to the sun may trigger cold sores. It’s not confirmed why this is, but it appears the latent herpes simplex virus responds to increased UV rays.
If you do keep getting cold sores it is worth monitoring to see if they are more prevalent in summer and if they are, to reduce sun exposure on your face when rays are strongest.
It can be best to reduce sun exposure to your face with a hat if possible as over use of sun cream can cause other skin problems.
How To Get Rid Of Cold Sores Forever?
Best Natural Ways To Prevent Cold Sores
For most people the best natural ways to stop cold sores recurring are to:
There are however also some specific diet changes we can make to help prevent cold sores coming back after catching the herpes simplex virus. And these are to eat plenty of food rich in:
- Vitamin E : e.g. almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, collard greens.
- Zinc : e.g. beef, shell fish, pumpkin seeds, baked beans.
- Vitamin C : e.g. citrus fruit, berries, peppers, broccoli & turnips.
As explained above in the section on vegans & cold sores, we also need to make sure we are eating plenty of food that is:
- Rich in lysine, an amino acid
- AND richer in lysine than in arginine, another amino acid.
Lysine For Cold Sores
It is possible to buy lysine supplements and lysine creams as a natural remedy for cold sores but for most of us its actually incredibly easy to eat food that is both rich in lysine AND richer in lysine than in arginine.
We do it everyday without thinking about it.
If you eat red meat and fish you are unlikely to have a lysine deficiency or excess arginine.
If you are a vegetarian milk and cheese are lysine rich and have a high lysine-arginine ratio.
So lysine levels are less likely to be a cold sore trigger for meat eaters, pescatarians and vegetarians and it seems less likely that a lysine supplement or cream would make a difference to your repeated cold sores. Improved gut health and a well balanced immune system seem more likely to make a difference.
However, it is very hard for vegans to eat a healthy balanced diet without arginine levels exceeding lysine levels.
Almonds, sesame seeds, brazil nuts, hazel nuts for example, all have 3 or 4 times more arginine than lysine. Oatmeal has twice as much. Most beans and chickpeas have less lysine than arginine.
So lysine supplements can be very helpful in preventing cold sores for vegans.
In general I believe nutritious food beat supplements. The epidemiologist Tim Spector is great at explaining the problems with supplements in his book The Diet Myth.
But I have seen vegan health writers recommend vegans cut out arginine rich foods that are actually pretty essential for a healthy vegan diet.
“If you’re constantly experiencing cold sores then foods to keep to a minimum include nuts such as cashews, pistachios, pine nuts and walnuts, as well as sunflower seeds, kidney beans, lima beans and nut butters.
Spinach, onion, leeks, peppers, mushroom and garlic are also very high in arginine and best used sparingly.”Cold Sore Treatment Through Vegan Diet
In my mind this is crazy.
Yes, food is better than supplements but if we are already on a restricted diet the last thing we should be doing is obsessively restricting it even more and denying ourselves plant based foods with all sorts of other health benefits. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist but my personal call would be take the lysine supplement.
Best Natural Cold Sore Remedies
Some of the best natural cold sore remedies are already loitering in our kitchen and bathroom cupboards.
Dabbing around your mouth with one of these natural remedies at the first signs of a cold sore can help get rid of a cold sore faster.
Natural Cold Sore Remedies In Your Kitchen
These natural cold sore remedies in your kitchen can be dabbed directly onto the cold sore or made into a tea that can be applied once cooled:
- Honey mixed with a pinch of turmeric
- Black tea
- Lemon balm
- Vanilla extract
- Echinacea tea
Many of these natural cold sore remedies are also very valuable components of an everyday healthy diet.
They are common – and cheap – traditional ingredients with various antiviral, antibiotic and anti-fungal powers that are great for gut health. Eaten regularly in a balanced diet they may help to stop cold sores recurring.
Natural Cold Sore Remedies In Your Bathroom
You can use any of the following you have in your bathroom cupboard as an instant natural cold sore remedy.
Remember to be very careful with essential oils and to dilute them appropriately as per the instructions on your specific essential oils.
- Aloe vera
- Peppermint oil
- Vanilla oil
- Tea tree oil
- Thuja cream
You could also use any of the herbs listed in natural cold sore remedies in your kitchen above as essential oils if you prefer but again apply with care as per product instructions.
And there you go, everything you need know to know about the best natural remedies for cold sores that will not only help kill a cold sore fast but also help you get rid of cold sores forever by reducing triggers such as periods, menopause, sun exposure and a vegan diet. I really do hope they help.
For more simple natural health tips check out my other natural remedies including :