Cold Sores

Home Remedies for Cold Sores – What Is Effective?

7 min read
Home Remedies for Cold Sores – What Is Effective? Home Remedies for Cold Sores – What Is Effective? Home Remedies for Cold Sores – What Is Effective?

When a cold sore outbreak occurs, you want to act quickly – preferably with products that you already have at home. Treating cold sores naturally can be an effective helper in the fight against a current outbreak. But you should use them with caution: many home remedies for cold sores have very little effectiveness or can even cause damage.

Many useful tips have accumulated over the years, such as treating cold sores at home with toothpaste. But is this really a practical home remedy, or rather a useless myth? Here you will find answers to your questions!

  • When cold sores appear, you should act quickly
  • Most home remedies for cold sores have very little effectiveness and can further irritate your skin
  • Compeed® cold sore patches help fight the cold sore infection effectively.

What home remedies are there for cold sores? And do they really help?

Black Tea/Green Tea

Tannins such as those present in black or green tea have a drying and disinfecting effect and, together with the wound fluid, help to form a protective layer on the affected area. Tea has been used as a DIY cold sore remedy and in a wide variety of preparations for wound healing Please note however that composition of the tannins varies greatly between the types of tea and the evidence for cold sore therapy is extremely weak.

Ice Cubes

Ice cubes relieve symptoms such as itching, burning, tingling and pain, and are often used by those looking to treat cold sores naturally. Cooling can also reduce redness and swelling. If you choose to follow this method, place a cloth between the ice and the skin and only cool at short intervals so that your skin does not freeze directly.


The honey component propolis has been proven to have antimicrobial properties – but only with special extracts. However, the usual household breakfast honey varies greatly in its quality and composition and is therefore not suitable as a home remedy for cold sores.

You also hear all sorts of things about the exotic Manuka honey, which contains the ingredient methylglyoxal, which is said to have all sorts of useful properties, such as antiviral effects. However, the evidence is far from conclusive enough for treatment. And here, too, there are different grades, depending on the methylglyoxal content.

Therefore, it is better to continue to enjoy honey only on breakfast bread, and instead use a Compeed® cold sore patch cover. These patches cover the affected area discreetly and hygienically and enable healing to be carried out just as quickly as antiviral creams.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is said to be effective against all kinds of microbes. However, tea tree oil is harmful to the mucous membranes, and must be diluted to a 1% solution before use and contains toxic oxidation products if stored incorrectly. Our recommendation is to avoid using it for the treatment of cold sores.


Treating herpes with toothpaste is not a good idea. It often contains irritating substances like menthol, which can even further irritate your damaged skin and interfere with wound healing.

Lemon balm

A certain level of effectiveness regarding  lemon balm against herpes viruses has be proven in some clinical trials. It is assumed that the rosmarinic acid component prevents herpes viruses from entering the host cells. However, rosmarinic acid is only available in sufficient quantities in special pharmaceutical products, which is why commercially available lemon balm preparations are not always suitable for the treatment of herpes viruses.

Which home remedies for cold sores relieve the pain?

With the exception of cooling with ice, no DIY cold sore remedy has a reliable pain-relieving effect on cold sores. In fact, tea tree oil and toothpaste are more likely to irritate your affected skin and can cause pain. Herbal products made from lemon balm or honey can cause allergic reactions and do not have the same effectiveness as pharmaceutical extracts and preparations.

A convenient (and drip-free!) alternative to chilling ice cubes is Compeed® cold sore patches. They help to relieve pain, accelerate the healing process at the same time and hide the lesion, making it look almost invisible!

Which home remedies for cold sores help prevent them?

Unfortunately, even the best home remedies for cold sores do not help you with prophylaxis – that is, preventing a cold sore outbreak. In the case of particularly strong cold sore courses, prescription drugs are used for prevention. It is best to find out more about this from your doctor.

But you can also become pro-active yourself when it comes to treating cold sores naturally. In addition to home remedies for cold sores, there are many other things you can do to lessen the likelihood of a cold sore outbreak. This includes less stress, enough sleep, and regular exercise, as well as a healthy and varied diet.. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher can also prevent breakouts by protecting against UV rays.

What should you (not) eat with herpes?

A different type of home remedy for cold sores is diet. In general, you should eat a balanced and healthy diet, as a herpes outbreak often comes when your immune system is weakened. Vitamin-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, help protect your body.

During cold sore outbreaks, low zinc levels have been found in patients . However, zinc is central to the immune system’s functionality

Zinc can be found in abundance in the following foods:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • legumes
  • buckwheat

It is also known that foods rich in arginine (e.g., nuts, tuna, wholemeal products) may promote a herpes outbreak. As an amino acid, arginine is essential for the multiplication of the virus and is found in protein-rich food.

Conversely, a lysine-rich diet (e.g., eggs, cheese) should help prevent  a cold sore infection. It has a structure similar to arginine and is intended to slow down or even block virus multiplication. Both amino acids occur in different amounts in protein-rich foods. In addition, the evidence is so weak that no recommendation for a low-arginine diet can be justified.

How long does a cold sore outbreak last?

A cold sore outbreak can last about 7 to 10 days from the earliest symptoms such as itching, burning or tingling until the burst blisters have completely healed. How long it lasts depends on the extent of your outbreak and to help to fight any complications (such as additional bacterial infections of the affected area).

In order to help fight cold sore infections as effectively as possible, you can also use tested means such as Compeed® cold sore patches. Although they are not a home remedy for cold sore infections, they have been shown to speed up the healing process, relieve pain and discreetly prevent the virus from spreading.