Ask a doctor: ‘How can I get rid of a cold sore as quickly as possible?’

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You woke up with an unsightly cold sore — but hiding out at home isn’t an option.

What can you do?

First, you’re not alone. Up to 80% of American adults have the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), which can cause cold sores (also known as fever blisters), according to Johns Hopkins.

The viral infection can cause small, fluid-filled lesions, or blisters, to form on and around the lips or inside the mouth. 

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They can sometimes show up around the nose or cheeks.

“While there is no cure, cold sores typically resolve on their own within one to two weeks,” said Dr. Robert Biernbaum, chief medical officer at WellNow Urgent Care in Chicago.

Woman with cold sore

Up to 80% of American adults have the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), which can cause cold sores (also known as fever blisters). (iStock)

Fox News Digital consulted with experts to determine the best course of action for dealing with an unsightly flare-up.

Here are five smart tips. 

1. Treat it right away

Taking quick action is important when dealing with a cold sore, they agreed.

“This will help it go away the fastest and heal quicker,” said Dr. Laura Purdy, a board-certified family medicine physician in Brentwood, Tennessee.

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Purdy suggested purchasing an over-the-counter antiviral ointment or cream, such as Abreva.

Biernbaum also suggested trying OTC pain reliever creams like lidocaine and benzocaine to help numb the burning sensation that can come with cold sores.

2. Consider home remedies

Apple cider vinegar may be effective for some, Purdy suggested, as long as the skin doesn’t get too irritated. 

“This is a great option because it’s known to combat germs, viruses and other bacteria,” she told Fox News Digital.

Aloe vera can also have antiviral effects, she added.

Woman lip ointment

Doctors suggest purchasing an over-the-counter antiviral ointment or cream to treat a cold sore right away. (iStock)

“Honey is another great option that may work for you, since it is known to help with skin wounds and injuries,” Purdy said.

“Of course, this is all personal preference and takes a little trial and error.” 

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When trying a new home remedy for a cold sore, Purdy said to start out with a small amount to make sure you don’t have any adverse skin reactions. 

Using cool compresses — such as ice or cold, wet rags — can help reduce pain and redness, Biernbaum added.

3. Build up your immune system

The key to clearing a cold sore is building the immune system back up, according to Dr. Heather Hinshelwood, chief medical officer at The Fraum Center for Restorative Health on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

“That’s why they show up — your immune system loses control of a dormant virus,” she told Fox News Digital.

Woman taking supplement

The key to clearing a cold sore is building the immune system back up, a doctor told Fox News Digital. (iStock)

To clear up cold sores, Hinshelwood recommended a multi-pronged attack: vitamin C, L-Lysine and Abreva, which are all available over the counter.

“Use these as quickly as possible, even before the actual abruption,” she suggested. 

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“If you can get a prescription for Valacyclovir (a prescription antiviral medication), that can help as well. Bottom line — building your immune system back up is key to clearing a cold sore.”

4. See a doctor

For persistent or painful cold sores, you may want to see a doctor to get a prescription antiviral medication.

Filling prescription

For persistent or painful cold sores, you may want to see a doctor to get a prescription antiviral medication, experts suggested. (iStock)

“If you are experiencing swelling or discomfort, visit your local urgent care or primary care provider,” Biernbaum recommended. 

“A provider can provide prescription topical creams and, if appropriate, antiviral medications at the onset of an outbreak to help speed the healing process.”

5. Follow best practices

While waiting for a blister to clear up, the experts recommend resisting the urge to touch or pick at an open cold sore, as this can cause infection or prolong the healing process.

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Biernbaum also suggests keeping your lips moisturized.

“Also avoid acidic foods and sun exposure, as these can be triggers,” he added.

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.



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