When you have a cold sore, you want to get rid of it fast. It hurts and it doesn’t look nice at all. If you tend to get them often you’ll know that they can take a while to heal and wonder why on earth you’re getting them and how to make them go away faster.
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). This is not the same strain that causes genital herpes although it can cause genital herpes and vice versa. Often people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It just lies dormant until it’s triggered by excessive stress, a run-down immune system, hormonal changes, and in some cases sun exposure.
It spreads quite easily through contact with the sores or sharing things that have touched the sores like cups, cutlery, chapsticks, towels, and toothbrushes. Usually, a tingling or throbbing is the first sign that a cold sore is on the way. Around day later a blister or a cluster of blisters pop up around your mouth or on your lip, or even inside your mouth. Then it starts to ooze, crust over, and dry out (1).
This process can take 2-4 weeks but there are ways that you can speed it up. Hydrogen peroxide for cold sores is a common remedy recommended to do this.
Does Hydrogen Peroxide Get Rid of Cold Sores?
If you have used hydrogen peroxide to clean your home you’ll know that it has antibacterial properties and can destroy viruses. In this study, however, the herpes virus was found to be able to protect itself against the hydrogen peroxide. Does hydrogen peroxide help cold sores in other ways though? Here’s how it may help:
Hydrogen peroxide can be applied to the skin as an anti-infective to prevent any further infections.
Hydrogen peroxide can help the cold sore dry out quicker.
Hydrogen peroxide may be able to help get rid of any scarring that may occur as it has a whitening effect on the skin.
In mice, when used at the right concentration it promotes the healing of wounds. Mice may not be humans, but this healing action may work in humans too.
As with most remedies, we are all different. You find that hydrogen peroxide works for you or you may find that it doesn’t. If you find that the first remedy isn’t doing much, try remedy 2.
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Cold Sores
Use a Q-tip, tissue, or cotton ball to apply the hydrogen peroxide remedies rather than your fingers to minimize the risk of spreading the virus around. A word of caution, when it comes to hydrogen peroxide, it’s best to only use it during the blister stage as it can cause the scab to be pulled off or damaged. The scabbing or crusting should not be pulled off or damaged. It will go away on its own.
When putting hydrogen peroxide on a fever blister, there may be some stinging and fizzing but that’s normal. It will go away. Always dilute the hydrogen peroxide with equal parts of water as it can burn your skin otherwise. Use these remedies 3-4 times a day.
1. Plain Hydrogen Peroxide
Dilute a little bit of hydrogen peroxide with water.
Dip the Q-tip, cotton ball, or tissue into the mixture.
Make sure that it isn’t dripping by squeezing it a little.
Hold it gently against your fever blister. Do not push or rub.
Hold it there for a few minutes and never longer than 10 minutes.
You can then rinse it off.
Making small batches is preferable because hydrogen peroxide degrades easily.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide and Essential Oils
Essential oils have proven to be very effective against the herpes virus and you can combine them with hydrogen peroxide to make a powerful cold sore remedy.
As always, dilute the hydrogen peroxide with water.
Add 1-5 drops of essential oil to the mixture.
Apply as you would the plain hydrogen peroxide solution.
Lemon balm, also known as Melissa
Can You Use Hydrogen Peroxide on a Cold Sore Overnight?
Because of hydrogen peroxide’s acidic nature, keeping it on your skin any longer than 10 minutes may cause a burn. It’s not recommended to use hydrogen peroxide overnight. If you would like a remedy to use overnight you can try toothpaste which is convenient as it dries so you won’t need a band-aid to keep it from rubbing off. Too much hydrogen peroxide can also prolong the time it takes for the sore to heal. If you have diluted it as instructed and use it 3-4 times a day for the specified amount of time, you will avoid causing it to heal slower.
What to Use During The Scabbing Phase?
Tips and Precautions
Only use 3% hydrogen peroxide. The more concentrated forms of hydrogen peroxide are too harsh to use on the skin.
Because of the acidic nature of hydrogen peroxide, if you have very sensitive skin it may be best to speak to your doctor before using it or you may want to try one of these other helpful cold sore remedies.
Keep your hands clean and avoid sharing anything that may have come into contact with your cold sore or saliva.
You will need to replace your toothbrush and any lip products that you may have used when you developed your cold sore to prevent the triggering of another cold sore.
Avoid oral sex when you or your partner has a cold sore. If either of you has genital herpes you should avoid sex completely.
Never pick at your cold sores which will only worsen them and can spread them to other parts of your body such as your nose, chin, or hands.
Avoid spicy food, coffee, and alcohol as these can aggravate your cold sore. You may also find that foods like citrus fruits, chocolate, grains, spinach, and carob may be problematic.
Try to keep your stress levels in check by taking walks, eating healthily, taking up a hobby that you enjoy, watching funny shows or movies, etc. You can also try meditation and deep breathing exercises.
Keep your immune system strong by eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Make sure that you get enough good quality sleep by avoiding exposure to televisions, cell phones, tablets, and computers at least an hour before bed and sleep in a pitch dark room.
If you find that imbalanced hormones might be the problem, speak to your doctor.
Always wear sunscreen and/or a hat when you go out into the sun. You can find lip balms that have sun protection in them too which may be helpful for preventing cold sores.
Please let us know if hydrogen peroxide worked for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them, we would love to hear from you.
Jane Scott grew up on a farm in California and is a crossover between a country girl and an evangelist for healthier living. She’s a nutritionist who preaches that healthy living need not be complicated.
She believes that by exercising regularly, eating mostly non-processed foods (with plenty of vegetables), and using home remedies for the small things and doctor’s advice for the big things, almost anybody can feel great and live a happier and healthier life. She’s excited to share her knowledge of natural remedies and healthier living on HRFL.
In her spare time, Jane enjoys cooking and watching bad rom-coms. She also loves nuts, and is a bit of a nut herself when it comes to Yoga, which she’s a little too obsessed with in the opinion of her friends and family.