Sudbury Smiles Dentistry
Dr. Alan Kwong Hing


dental tips & fun facts

How to treat cold sores


Do you suffer from cold sores and want to see them gone as fast as possible?  

Cold sores can be a pain; they itch, they sting, they stay way to long, and they are ugly. What’s their deal? Cold sores are fluid filled blisters that occur on or around the lips, last from 2-4 weeks and show up in the same spot. Cold sores are also contagious; so when you have one it is best to not contaminate other people until the crust forms – this means kissing, sharing utensils, etc. Unfortunately there is no knowing when they will show up, but there are some reasons why they may surface.  

Reasons you may get a cold sore: 

The cold sore virus, herpes-simplex (HSV-1), lays dormant and can be triggered by some of the following reasons: 

  1. Stress and/or fatigue

  2. Weak immune systems or changes in the immune system

  3. Exposure to the sun (UV)

  4. A viral infection

  5. Fever


Since a cold sore appearing on your face is not a welcome guest, you most likely want it gone as soon as possible. Here are some ways to make the cold sore less painful and hopefully gone sooner! 

  1. Once the blister has formed and is drying up change your toothbrush and if you have been using a lipstick, lip pencil, lip balm, really anything that has been exposed to the cold sore change those out as well. These may be a vessel for the virus and can make you have another breakout.

  2. Don’t touch it! It is so tempting to scratch, pick, and feel the cold sore but for a quick recovery keep your hands off. You can be infecting it with bacteria making it dirty and harder to heal. You can also be spreading it around. This also goes for applying ointments, use a q-tip rather than your finger.

  3. Clean it with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol pads. This will disinfect the area and dry out the sore. It will sting, but it will help healing.

  4. Ice it. Place an ice cube directing on the sore until you cannot stand it, dry it off and cover it with some petroleum jelly for protection from germs. This will sooth the pain and itching.

  5. Use ointments such as Abreva that can shorten the outbreak. This should be applied frequently and with a q-tip. (A trick is to clean it with an alcohol wipe before putting on the ointment)

  6. If you have a cold sore that is triggered by the sun, wear sunscreen or lip balm with SPF on the area.

Cold sores are something that sticks around, but you can manage their outbreak by finding the right care regime. If they are something that is bothering you and feel you are having a hard time controlling, it is best to seek medical advice.  

Sources consulted: 


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