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8 Household Cold Sore Remedies (And How Effective They Really Are!)

lemon on cold sore

Cold sores are a pain (literally), so you’ll do whatever it takes to help them heal faster. If you’re in a pinch, these household cold sore remedies can bring you the rapid relief you crave.

Here’s what you need to know about popular household cold sore remedies to find the choice that’s best for you.


Salt helps alleviate cold sore discomfort by drawing out the extra moisture that the herpes simplex virus needs to thrive but may be painful when applied.

It’s simple to apply salt on cold sore outbreaks. Just moisten your index finger and apply salt directly onto bothersome cold sores. Gently press the salt against each sore for 30 seconds. For faster relief, follow every salt treatment with a layer of aloe vera or topical oil.



Though there’s no clinical research to prove toothpaste’s cold sore treatment efficiency, plenty of anecdotal evidence supports the use of toothpaste on cold sore outbreaks.

According to the Infectious Disease Research Center, the toothpaste ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) suppresses activity of the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). If you apply toothpaste over your skin at the earliest signs of a cold sore outbreak, your sores may not erupt so aggressively.

If you want to try this method of toothpaste on cold sore blisters, simply apply a thin layer of white, non-gel toothpaste over the area of skin itching and tingling. It’s best to do this before bed or every few hours during the day.


Bleach… near your mouth? This is an unusual home remedy for cold sores that can only be used with extreme caution and care. Some people with aggressive herpes simplex share that they dab a Q-tip in bleach and then lightly cover each cold sore.

There’s no research to prove this, but anecdotal evidence suggests that bleach dries out cold sores to accelerate the recovery process. The bottom line? This one might work… but ff you’re going to apply bleach on cold sore blisters, do so with the utmost caution.

Cold sore remedies


Garlic isn’t just for your dinner recipe! Fresh garlic has long been utilized as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments, dating back to ancient Chinese medicine when garlic was prescribed to aid digestion and respiration.

Thanks to garlic’s antiviral and antiseptic properties, it’s an easy and affordable home remedy for cold sores. Use this routine to apply raw garlic on cold sore blisters for best results:

  • - Crush or cut raw garlic to release garlic juice
  • - Place the garlic directly on the area where a cold sore is forming
  • - Rub garlic on the affected area for about 15 seconds
  • - Let the garlic dry on your skin
  • - Repeat twice a day


Like garlic, lemons are accessible, affordable, and easy to use at home. The antibacterial properties of lemon juice give it the power to fight bacteria in and around your cold sore outbreak.

However, experts list a few concerns when it comes to applying raw lemon on cold sore blisters. Fresh lemon cannot alter or change the path of the herpes simplex virus, and its intense acidity will sting open sores.

It’s a safer bet to use lemon balm ointment instead. Research shows that lemon balm reduces the activity of the herpes virus. This means that topical ointments containing lemon balm may minimize symptoms, shorten the cold sore healing period, and prevent the spread of infection.


Vaseline can’t treat the herpes simplex virus or accelerate healing time, but it’s a great household remedy for cracking and drying. After your cold sore blisters burst, they develop into open sores that dry out and scab. These scabs are just as uncomfortable as the blisters that preceded them!

Vaseline on cold sores acts like chapstick to alleviate that stiff, dry, cracking sensation you hate so much. It’s best to apply Vaseline with a Q-tip to prevent direct skin contact with your sores. Since Vaseline is safe and gentle, you can apply it as frequently as needed to remain comfortable.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is an antiseptic agent that kills bacteria from surfaces. It’s so versatile that it’s used in many different settings, from medical practices to household cleaning. It turns out you can even apply rubbing alcohol on cold sore blisters to speed along the healing process.

Since rubbing alcohol has an immediate drying effect on the skin, it’s sometimes used at 70% concentration to dry out cold sores. The faster your cold sores dry and scab, the quicker they heal, so rubbing alcohol on cold sore outbreaks could be a helpful tool.

Just keep in mind that rubbing alcohol is dangerous in the wrong hands. Keep this household cold sore remedy out of reach of children, and never ingest it!


Alcohol on Cold Sores

Relief from your cold sore may also be found in your liquor cabinet! Believe it or not, anecdotal evidence suggests that a mixture of vodka and peppermint oil can relieve your cold sore pain and accelerate the healing process.

Applying alcohol on cold sore blisters may alleviate inflammation, dry the area, and reduce redness. Just like rubbing alcohol, liquor is an antiseptic that quickly dries the affected area so scabbing can occur.

For best results, mix ⅛ ounce of vodka with a few drops of peppermint oil. Use a Q-tip to dab this mixture onto your cold sore five times a day for about four days.

Using Household Cold Sore Remedies

Household core sore remedies aren't backed by comprehensive clinical research studies or FDA-approvals, but that doesn't mean they can't work!

When a cold sore outbreak is driving you to the brink of misery, grab your nearest tube of toothpaste or clove of garlic to get the relief you need.

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