It’s an all-too-common scenario: The morning of an important meeting, first date, or big social event, you wake up to find your lips marred with a cold sore. As annoying as they are, it might help to know that you’re not alone in this experience. According to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, cold sores affect up to 80% of adults in the U.S. In addition to being common, cold sores are irritating, unpredictable, and (worst of all) visible. But don’t worry—diminishing yours may be as simple as applying a few natural products you already have on hand.
To help you save face (literally), here’s our guide on how to get rid of cold sores using four of the best home remedies.
One of the major issues associated with cold sores is inflammation. To bring down the swelling, simply apply a cube of ice directly to the affected area and rub. Repeat this a few times a day, making sure to rub gently. If you’re not careful, you might scratch the sore and cause further damage.
Tea Tree Oil
Famous for being antimicrobial and effective for a number of skin problems, tea tree oil is an anti-inflammatory product that can also diminish cold sores. Apply a few drops to the affected area using a cotton swab three times a day. For best results, apply right before bedtime. This will help the sore dry and heal overnight.
Apple Cider Vinegar
You may be familiar with apple cider vinegar for its numerous health benefits. And much like tea tree oil, it’s also a remarkable topical cleanser. Apply it directly to the blistered area three times a day (with a clean cotton swab) for the best results.
The trick to getting rid of cold sores is likely hiding in your own pantry. Garlic is both antiviral and antiseptic, making it a safe home remedy for cold sores. Take a raw garlic clove and crush it before rubbing it on the sore. The ingredient is also anti-inflammatory, which can help relieve the area’s swelling. Apply twice a day for best results.
Or Consult Your Doctor
If your cold sore doesn’t seem to be responding to natural approaches or begins to pop up with suspicious frequency, you might want to consult your doctor. A number of prescriptions exist for the purpose of treating serious blisters. Over-the-counter remedies frequently include ingredients like docosanol and benzyl alcohol, which can be effective but are also harsher on the skin.