Cold sores are small, painful blisters that develop on the lips and surrounding skin, on the oral mucosa, gums, or at the base of the nose. They are caused by Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1), a common contagious virus.

According to the World Health Organization, about two-thirds of adults over 50 have HSV-1[1].

Often, it doesn’t manifest itself. Experts say that only about 30 percent of those with HSV-1 experience signs of infection, namely what we call a fever blister on the lip.

Herpes usually heals itself in about two weeks and may recur periodically. It is not an immediate danger to our health.

But it is important to recognize the symptoms and learn how to get rid of cold sores quickly and efficiently.

Cold sore blisters are sometimes mistaken with HPV bumps on lips; however, they are two different health conditions caused by different viruses.

How To Recognize The Cold Sore Stages

If you’ve ever had cold sores, you are probably familiar with the symptoms and recognize the cold sore stages.

It starts with a tingling sensation, then the edge of the lip or corner of the mouth begins to burn (the reason for it being called a fever blister on the lip), after which small transparent blisters appear.

After a few days, these blisters break, and the fluid leaks out, and these lesions are replaced by scabs that eventually fall off, leaving behind small red spots that heal within 10 days.

The symptoms last for 15 days, including fever, fatigue, sore throat, drowsiness, nervousness, and decreased appetite.

How To Get Rid Of Cold Sores with Natural Remedies

There is no magic cold sore treatment, but there are ways to reduce the intensity and frequency of the lesions.

1. Warm compress

Prepare a warm, dry compress to speed up the shingles’ withdrawal. You can fill a clean sock with rice, heat it either in the microwave or on the radiator, and apply it to the painful area.

Ideally, you should apply such a compress as soon as the first signs of herpes appear – itching in the area, a burning sensation, or pain. Applying a warm compress will not only reduce the pain but will also prevent the swelling of the lip, causing herpes to recede.

2. Aloe vera

Aloe vera gel is an excellent cold sore treatment option as the plant gel soothes inflammation and deeply moisturizes and fades the injury[2]. Pure aloe vera gel can be applied directly to almost any area of the body without dilution.

3. Baking soda paste

Make a paste from baking soda and water. Using an ear stick, apply this paste to herpes and let it dry. The baking soda paste will dry herpes faster and also relieve itching in the area.

4. Cold compress

Cold compress
This can also be applied to reduce symptoms and fight the inflammatory process. An ice cube wrapped in gauze or a clean towel and applied to the painful area can be useful. Never put ice directly on the skin – as it is likely to burn the skin.

5. Cornstarch paste

Another great cold sore treatment is cornstarch paste. This paste works in the same way as baking soda paste. Mix the starch with a little water, spread the mixture on the herpes area, and let it dry. You should leave it on overnight and remove it in the morning with a little lukewarm water.

6. Honey

Apply ½ teaspoon of honey on the fever blister on the lip and leave it on for 5-7 minutes. Then rinse with plenty of water. Honey has antibacterial and soothing properties[3] that will not only fight the cause of herpes but also relieve symptoms. Apply honey at least twice a day until you see improvement.

7. Vitamin E

How to get rid of cold sores quickly? Break open an oily vitamin E capsule and use an ear stick to apply the oil to the mouth sore. Let the vitamin E dry, and make sure to repeat the process several times a day. The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin E oil will soothe inflammation and pain[4].

8. Take lysine supplements

During times of stress, your immune system weakens, increasing your risk of getting a cold sore. Lysine supplements can help prevent the onset of herpes and shorten the process of healing. According to one study, lysine blocks another amino acid called arginine, which HSV-1 needs to multiply[5]. A daily supplement of 3 g of lysine improves the experience of patients in cold sore stages[6].

What Not To Do With Cold Sores

Fever blister on the lip

A fever blister on the lip is no fun and certain habits or behaviors can trigger it more often. If you know you have been infected with the herpes virus, use several strategies to reduce the risk of developing a sore in the mouth.

  • Manage stress. Alleviate stress and use relaxation techniques to reduce stress levels. There is clinical evidence that stress may contribute to the reactivation of the latent herpes simplex virus (HSV)[7].
  • Apply sunscreen lotion daily. Don’t use a towel, lip balm, or other utensils and objects in common with other people. Also, to avoid spreading herpes yourself, avoid drinking from the same glass or using the same cutlery with people close to you.
  • Restock your toothbrush. Change your toothbrush after herpes has healed. This is because germs can get caught on your toothbrush and cause problems again. Also, if you notice herpes, don’t touch it as there is a risk of spreading the virus to another part of your body. Avoid touching your face and wash your hands with soap and water for 40 seconds, but not less than 20 seconds.
  • Change your diet. Avoid heavy foods (meat, fried foods, fats, etc.), which can reduce the time it takes to heal by up to half. According to New Zealand Herpes Foundation, people who frequently eat meat and foods that stress the liver and those who drink too much alcohol or smoke have herpes relapses, where healing can be more difficult.

Are Cold Sores Contagious?

Cold Sores Contagious
Most people who deal with herpes want to know: are cold sores contagious?

Yes, herpes is contagious from the moment you feel the first signs until it heals, in all cold sore stages. The virus that causes herpes can be passed from one person to another through direct interpersonal contact, such as kissing, or through contact with contaminated personal objects such as bottles, glasses, shared cutlery, towels, and so on.

Anyone can develop this condition, but it is more common in adolescence. Recurrent herpes can form in the same place and usually manifests as a milder form.

Are cold sores contagious? People that have weaker immune systems are at higher risk of developing more severe forms or complications of herpes. Factors or conditions that increase the risk of complications include HIV/AIDS, severe burns, eczema, stress, chemotherapy, and immunosuppressive therapy.

What Are HPV Bumps On The Lips

The appearance of small, painful bumps in the mouth, on the tongue, or the lips may also be triggered by HPV or Human Papilloma Virus, which is a very common sexually transmitted disease, affecting 79 million people in the United States as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Today, HPV has more than 100 types, and some of them can produce oral lesions that resemble warts and are known as HPV bumps on the lips.

Oral HPV is transmitted between people through saliva and oral sex: particles of saliva from the infected person enter the other person’s body through the mouth or throat.

HPV bumps on the lips may come in different shapes, either small and hard, single or in a formation similar to cauliflower, white, pink, or red.

Most of the time, HPV is eliminated from the body in 1-2 years. However, there are cases when HPV leads to oral cancer – although this complication is rare.

How Can I Stop Cold Sores From Forming?

Wondering how to get rid of cold sores and stop them from forming? The bad news is that there is no cure to prevent herpes, but a few tips may help reduce your risk of contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

  • Avoid direct contact with other people who you notice have herpes. The virus spreads most easily when those fluid blisters are active.
  • Avoid borrowing personal belongings. Cutlery, water bottles, drinking glasses, towels, lip balm, or other personal care products can spread the virus when herpes is active.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face, nose, mouth, or eyes or before touching other people, especially babies.


Follow the above tips to get rid of cold sores and avoid the progression of symptoms.

Seek medical advice if your immune system is weakened, your symptoms get worse, the herpes is painful and large, you experience frequent episodes of herpes, or you feel a sensation of irritation in your eyes.

If herpes lasts for more than two to four weeks or if you don’t see signs of healing after cold sore treatment or over-the-counter products don’t help relieve your symptoms, see a doctor.