Cold Sore Remedies
Several remedies for cold sores are available, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs. These antiviral medications can speed up the healing process and help reduce pain and discomfort associated with cold sores. If you are experiencing excessive pain with your cold sore, treatment may also include applying cool compresses or ice packs and taking non-prescription pain relievers.
There is no cold sore cure. However, they will usually clear up on their own without treatment after seven to ten days. For a person with frequent cold sores, a healthcare provider may include one of several medications. These cold sore medicines are known as antivirals. Antivirals can be effective in speeding up healing and decreasing pain and discomfort.
Prescription antiviral medicines that are approved for use as cold sore remedies include:
- Acyclovir cream (Zovirax® cream)
- Acyclovir ointment (Zovirax® ointment) -- approved for people with a weakened immune system
- Penciclovir cream (Denavir®)
- Famciclovir (Famvir®)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex®).
All of these medicines work best if used at the first signs of a cold sore (symptoms may include tingling, itching, burning, or redness).
It is important to understand that treatment with a cold sore medicine does not prevent future outbreaks. These medicines are also not approved for use in children (except acyclovir cream and penciclovir cream, which can be used in children 12 years of age and older).
Many remedies for cold sores are available without a prescription. Most of these can be used to decrease symptoms, such as burning, pain, and itching. Docosanol (Abreva®) is available without a prescription and has been shown to decrease symptoms and duration of cold sores.