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Two Effective Natural Cold Sore Remedies

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natural cold sore remedy

I’ve been feeling like the elephant man lately.

I’m sporting the worst cold sore in the HISTORY. OF. THE. WORLD. At least, that’s how it feels.

If you’re a fellow sufferer, then you know just how awful these things are. Painful, unsightly and smack bang in the middle of your face at the least convenient time.

The silver lining is, it gives me a chance to experiment, testing the effectiveness of two natural cold sore remedies.

While the experiment doesn’t have the rigours of a proper double-blind, peer-reviewed experiment with a large and diverse cohort, these remedies can be useful in a pinch, especially if you get that tingle and you don’t have the expensive store bought cream at home.

I tried two natural cold sore remedies that are both inexpensive and you probably already have at home and i share the results of both below.

The important thing with a cold sore (and something I failed to do this time round) is to treat it as soon as you feel one coming on – at that first ‘tingle’ or throb.

Two Natural Cold Sore Remedies

I used these remedies in two stages, but you only need to use one, depending on which one you have on hand. 

Stage 1 – Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is antibacterial, antifungal and helps dry out the cold sore.

During the first stages of a cold sore, at that first tingle and before it dries out/ stops weeping and ‘scabs over’ for want of a less offensive turn of phrase, apply tea tree oil undiluted directly to the affected area using a cotton tip three or four times a day.

I’ve found that using tea tree oil can reduce the first stage of a cold sore from two or three days to 12 – 24 hours, especially if you treat it quickly.

When it comes to essential oils, if I’m using them to clean the house, then I buy the cheap ones at the supermarket. And while they probably work for cold sores too, for personal use, I buy high-quality essential oils. They are a little more costly, but also more potent, and so last longer.

To apply, dilute a drop of tea tree oil in a teaspoon of carrier oil (like olive oil or coconut oil) and dab onto the cold sore regularly.

You may also like: 7 Effective Natural Remedies to Soothe a Sore Nose

Stage 2 – Coconut Oil

While tea tree oil is my tried and true remedy, I recently read that coconut oil (the extra virgin, unprocessed stuff) is also useful when treating cold sores due to its anti-viral properties, so I thought I would put it to the test.

Once the cold sore had reached stage two (scab stage – sorry to the squeamish), I applied the coconut oil each evening to one half of my top lip (yes, the cold sore covered most of my top lip– blame it on all the nose blowing due to accompanying cold) to see if it made a discernable difference to the healing time.

And the result?

The side that I applied the coconut oil to healed days before the other side. While all trace of the cold sore had disappeared from the coconut oil side, it was still there in all its unsightly glory on the non-coconut oil side.

And so I can confirm with my little experiment that coconut oil does encourage the healing process.

If you’re unlucky enough to be infected with the cold sore virus, then the occasional outbreak is inevitable and something to be borne stoically. However, you can reduce the severity and duration of the cold sore by applying tea tree oil and later coconut oil to the affected area.

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  1. I’m a tea tree oil lover for my cold sores too (clearly tis the season – have one right now!), but I’m going to give the coconut oil a go – that sounds great! That stage is the worst bit I think, when it keeps cracking and bleeding.

    I’ll add to your list though – stage 0 – when it is just tingling. At this point, I put lemon juice on the area as often as I can (a couple of times a day, or more often if the coldsore is in an area getting wiped or licked often). Fresh is great, but bottled works too. If you catch it early enough, it’ll stop that cold sore in its tracks, and if you don’t, they seem to be smaller.

    Thanks for your tips!

    1. And I bet lemon tastes better than tea tree oil. Thanks for the tip – I’ll try lemon next time. I wonder if lemon oil would work too.

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  2. I hate coldsores too! Always feel like a mountain growing in your face!
    This post comes a couple weeks late for me, but will try these ideas next time! Do you think the tea tree oil from supermarkets would do the job or should I use a proper EO?

    1. As far as I know tea tree oil at the supermarket (like Thursday plantation, I think) is EO and should be effective.

  3. Thanks for this Melissa – in fact my dad swore by Teatree oil when we were kids.

    I wonder (particularly in the cooler months) if you could make a little pot of balm – coconut oil laced with tea tree and lemon? You could then apply morning and night to provide some protection and prevention?
    Might have to prepare some before I head off to watch kids soccer in the brisk Canberra winter!

  4. Something my mum used when we were kids – for the tingly feeling, that is, not for a full-blown cold sore…
    Boil some water and pour some into a cup. Take a cotton bud and dip one end into the water, pull it out and apply it to the tingling spot. If you think it’s gonna be too hot, wait for a second, but I think the hotter it is, the better.
    We used this often, and that unmistakable tingly feeling never turned into a cold sore when we did! Hope that’s helpful.

  5. I use tea tree oil on pimples and it appears to work as well. I wonder if coconut oil could also work on pimples too? I wonder if your readers have any other ideas for pimples?

  6. I read ,on the internet, once, that ice can help a cold sore heal rapidly. I’ve used this treatment many times for about 3 years and it has worked all but 1 time. I think that time I simply didn’t catch it in time. All I do is put an icecube on the sore as long as I can stand it, about a couple minutes, take it off and then repeat for about 10 min. By the next morning the sore is usually starting to heal or simply doesn’t continue to develop ! Hope this tip helps someone else !

  7. Hi there, I sometimes get cold sores when I am feeling run down. I have found taking L-lysine (amino acid that prevents cold sores) drinking 10ml of colloidal silver and applying a little on a cotton pad and holding it on the potential cold sore for 30 mins, after that rubbing magnesium lotion on the area. The inflammation goes down and the cold sore never happens. Oh……. and rest up the body is asking for some respite.

    1. Lysine is a great way to surpress a cold sore but you don’t necessarily have to take it in tablets form. A good way to prevent cold sores, especially at times when you are vulnerable to develop one, is to eat foods high in lysine and low in arginine.

      A simple google search will give a complete list of foods on a scale of high to low in lysine vs arginine.

  8. I am a sufferer of cold sores too often- usually an allergic reaction, they occur on my lip and up my nose and all over the place – its really very attractive…. So I have been tracking my own remedies and what works and i have found a great mix… ice once i feel it come and continue putting it on and off throughout the first day, I also apply tea tree which i keep on me now most of the time every 1-2 hours, it drys out your lips a bit but stop your cold sore growing to mammoth proportions! once the scab comes i have been usin bio oil but i have discovered an awesome product solosite unfortunately not natural but it works and i have seen my cold sores go from a tingle to a bit of dry skin in only a week! It has been amazing! I also cook with coconut oil so maybe this is now helping internally anyways i just wanted to share… and I will try coconut oil next time just to compare. :)

  9. Thanx for sharing with us. This is really useful information.
    Moreover, To get temporary relief from the pain, apply an ice pack directly to the sore. It may not reduce the duration of a breakout but ease the discomfort of cold sores.
    Check more best cold sore remedy here.

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