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How to get rid of a cold sore in 24 hours?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV-1. They’re highly contagious, spreading through direct contact with a sore or infected saliva.

Even when they’re not visible, the virus can still be active and spread.

Besides just being uncomfortable, a visible cold sore can make you feel self-conscious, affecting how you interact with others. Plus, they hurt and can make simple things like eating or talking a pain.

Luckily, there are ways to speed up the healing process, which we’ll explore next.

How to get rid of a cold sore?

Dealing with a cold sore can be a nuisance, but there are several steps you can take to reduce symptoms. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to effectively manage a cold sore:

  • Keep it clean: Wash your hands often and avoid touching the sore to prevent further irritation


  • Use over-the-counter treatments: Look for creams or patches specifically designed for cold sores containing antiviral ingredients


  • Apply cold compresses: Ease pain and swelling by applying a cold compress wrapped in a clean cloth for 15-20 minutes several times a day


  • Consider antiviral medications: Your doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs to speed up healing and reduce symptoms


  • Moisturise: Keep the area hydrated with petroleum jelly or lip balm containing moisturising ingredients


  • Avoid triggers: Identify and steer clear of stress, fatigue, sunlight, or certain foods that can trigger outbreaks


  • Try natural remedies: Some find relief with aloe vera gel, lemon balm extract, or tea tree oil, but results vary


  • Practise good hygiene: Prevent spreading the virus by avoiding sharing personal items and washing hands frequently


By following these tips, you can ease discomfort and promote faster healing of your cold sore. If you have concerns, consult your pharmacist or doctor for further guidance.

Frequently asked questions about cold sores

How long do cold sores last?

Cold sores typically last 7 to 10 days. Over-the-counter treatments can help speed up healing.

What causes cold sores to flare up?

Cold sore flare-ups can be triggered by stress, fatigue, sunlight, hormonal changes, and a weakened immune system.

Are cold sores contagious when dormant?

Yes, cold sores can be contagious even when dormant, as the virus can still be present and shed from the skin.

A woman is about to apply cream to her cold sore, which is just above her upper lip to the right.

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