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Aquaphor for Cold Sores: Will It Help or Hinder Your Healing?

A woman dabs Aquaphor on a cold sore on her lower lip.

Drugstores are filled with products claiming to treat and heal cold sores quickly. Aquaphor appears on most shelves and is a popular brand, but is it effective for cold sores?

Let's take a look at what Aquaphor is, how it works, and whether it's helpful for healing cold sores.

What Are Cold Sores?

Cold sores are small, painful blisters that erupt on or around the lips. You may have also heard them referred to as fever blisters. Cold sores result from an infection with the herpes simplex virus, type 1 (HSV-1), an extremely contagious, common virus.

Once you contract HSV-1, the virus hides in your nerve cells for the rest of your life. But specific triggers can reactivate the virus, causing further cold sore outbreaks.

What Is Aquaphor?

Aquaphor is a brand of skin and lip care products manufactured by its parent company, Beiersdorf Inc.

Aquaphor makes numerous products intended for baby care, skin care, lip care, and first aid, and they note that they're the number one dermatologist-recommended lip care brand.

Since the cold sores occur around the lips, in this post we'll specifically focus on Aquaphor's lip care products.

Aquaphor Lip Care Products

Aquaphor Lip Repair is the original and most popular Aquaphor lip care product, marketed to people with very dry lips. Lip Repair contains shea butter, petrolatum, lanolin, and vitamins, all intended to moisturize, nourish, and seal in moisture on the lips. The lip repair formula comes in a stick as well as a tube.

Aquaphor Lip Protectant + Sunscreen contains the same ingredients as the original Aquaphor Lip Repair formulation, but with the added benefit of an SPF 30 sunscreen. Aquaphor promotes this product as being specially formulated for those with sensitive lips.

Do People Use Aquaphor on Cold Sores?

Many physicians recommend the use of Aquaphor for cold sores. Dr. Rina Allawh, a board-certified dermatologist, even recommends refrigerating Aquaphor before using it for even more relief from itching and burning symptoms.

Aquaphor's lip products are consistently highly ranked on sites like Amazon. Aquaphor Lip Repair Ointment, for example, has over 30,000 reviews and a very high rating.

Though the ointment does not claim to treat cold sores, some reviewers note that they use Aquaphor for their cold sores with great success. More specifically, reviewers say that the ointment's moisturizing properties help to prevent the dry and chapped lips that trigger cold sores or make existing sores worse.

Treating a Cold Sore With Aquaphor

Timing is everything when it comes to cold sore treatment. Knowing when to keep a cold sore moisturized and when to keep it dry can help you use Aquaphor and other cold sore treatments wisely and effectively.

Wet or Dry: When To Use Aquaphor

Every cold sore passes through five stages on its way to healing. Which stage your cold is in determines whether you should keep it wet or dry.

The five cold sore stages are:

  1. A burning or itching sensation indicates a cold sore is about to form.
  2. A fluid-filled cold sore develops on or around the lips.
  3. The cold sore bursts, releasing its fluid.
  4. The cold sore dries up, forming a yellowish-brown crust or scab.
  5. The scab heals and the skin looks healthy again.

The cold sore virus thrives in warm, moist environments, so it's important to keep your cold sore as dry as possible during the first four stages. This doesn't mean, however, that you can't use Aquaphor on your lips to keep them comfortable. Just try to keep the ointment away from the cold sore.

After the cold sore blisters burst, dry out, and form a scab, you can apply Aquaphor on your cold sore as well. This will help relieve any dryness or cracking. Be sure not to over-saturate the cold sore, which could cause the scab to fall off prematurely, and avoid contaminating the Aquaphor product with the cold sore virus.

You can continue to use Aquaphor on your cold sore until the scab falls off and new, healthy skin appears.

If you're prone to chapped lips that seem to lead to cold sores, Aquaphor may be an excellent way to keep your lips healthy, moisturized, and cold sore free.

Infographic: Aquaphor for Cold Sores: Will It Help or Hinder Your Healing?

Treatments To Use Along With Aquaphor

Fortunately, you don't have to choose just one tool in your fight against cold sores. Many over-the-counter treatments, strategies, and home remedies are available to try.

Dietary Changes

Eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables is one of the most important actions you can take in your fight against cold sores. Boosting your immune system through good nutrition and cold-sore fighting foods involves adding plenty of these nutrients:

  • Lysine.
  • Lean protein.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Zinc.
  • Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E.

Stress Reduction

The immune system can take a big hit when you're feeling stressed, allowing the cold sore virus to reactivate and come to the surface. It's important to reduce and manage your stress through activities like exercising regularly, practicing deep breathing, and engaging in hobbies you enjoy.

Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a cutting-edge, clinically proven treatment that helps decrease inflammation, pain, and cold sore healing time. The Luminance RED Lip Sore Treatment Device offers this type of proven treatment in an FDA-registered, handheld device you can use at home in just a few minutes a day.

Skin Protection

Any injury or excess pressure to the mouth and lips can result in a cold sore. For example, a visit to the dentist can trigger a cold sore outbreak for many people. Applying a cold compress after a dental appointment can help soothe irritated skin and guard against cold sore formation.

Avoiding Harsh Wind and Sun

When the lips become excessively dry, they're more susceptible to cold sore formation. Sunburn, too much time in the cold, or harsh wind can all damage the delicate skin around your lips. If you know you'll be exposed to such conditions, Aquaphor Lip Protectant + Sunscreen is a great option.

Consult Your Healthcare Provider

In addition to following the above guidelines for Aquaphor, be sure to use Aquaphor according to the instructions on its packaging. Consult your healthcare provider if your cold sore lingers for more than two weeks or if other symptoms develop.

You should also speak to your doctor or pharmacist before using Aquaphor on a deep wound, a blister that's hot to the touch, or a particularly large cold sore. And as always, don't use Aquaphor if you're allergic to any of its ingredients.

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