7 Best Cold Sore Medicines of 2019 [Treatment based on science]

Cold sores can be very painful and based on your immunity they can take up to 2 weeks to heal on their own.

The good news is there are a number of effective over the counter cold sore medicines that can help your fever blisters heal faster. These medications will also reduce the pain and lower the number of the lesion recurrences you experience.

But which is the best cold sore medicine available?

Based on their ingredients, clinical evaluations and trials and doctor and patient opinions we have created a list of the most effective fever blister treatments.

Best Seller
Abreva Cold Sore/fever Blister Treatment Pump, 2 Gm (Pack of 2)
Urban ReLeaf Lemon Balm Cold Sore & Shingles Salve! 1 Oz Quickly Soothe...
Editor's Choice
Zilactin Cold Sore Gel, Medicated Gel 0.25 oz
Quantum Super Lysine Plus Cold Sore Treatment Cream - 0.25 Oz
Compeed Cold Sore Patches 15 Patches by Johnson (Original Version)
Name
Abreva
Lemon Balm
Zilactin
Quantum
Compeed
Rating
Reviews
27 Reviews
689 Reviews
328 Reviews
50 Reviews
233 Reviews
Key Ingredients
Docosanol 10%
Oils of Lemon Balm
Benzyl Alcohol 10%
Lysine, Menthol 0.1%
Hydrocolloid Gel
Best Seller
Abreva Cold Sore/fever Blister Treatment Pump, 2 Gm (Pack of 2)
Name
Abreva
Rating
Reviews
27 Reviews
Key Ingredients
Docosanol 10%
Urban ReLeaf Lemon Balm Cold Sore & Shingles Salve! 1 Oz Quickly Soothe...
Name
Lemon Balm
Rating
Reviews
689 Reviews
Key Ingredients
Oils of Lemon Balm
Editor's Choice
Zilactin Cold Sore Gel, Medicated Gel 0.25 oz
Name
Zilactin
Rating
Reviews
328 Reviews
Key Ingredients
Benzyl Alcohol 10%
Quantum Super Lysine Plus Cold Sore Treatment Cream - 0.25 Oz
Name
Quantum
Rating
Reviews
50 Reviews
Key Ingredients
Lysine, Menthol 0.1%
Compeed Cold Sore Patches 15 Patches by Johnson (Original Version)
Name
Compeed
Rating
Reviews
233 Reviews
Key Ingredients
Hydrocolloid Gel

The Best Cold Sore Medicines (based on clinical data)

Best Overall: Abreva Cold Sore Treatment

Sale
Abreva Fever Blister Medicine
32 Reviews
Abreva Fever Blister Medicine

 

  • The only FDA-approved cold sore medicine
  • Stops the progress of the blisters, treats the existing ones
  • Doconasol-based formula
  • Claimed to be the most effective cold sore medication

Abreva contains 10 per cent Docosanol, a patented active ingredient said to protect healthy cells from the cold sore virus. The product description informs that the early treatment (after noticing the first signs of cold sore development) delivers a better result.

Patients are happy with the results of their cold sore medicine after applying Abreva. If there are negative comments, they are usually related to the size of the tube and not the performance of this cold sore medicine.

Clinical results show that this cold sore medication is proven to have positive effects on the removal of recurrent oral-facial herpes simplex when applied as directed.

The study showed that the healing period shortened thanks to the effect of Abreva, this is why according to our research it is overall the most effective otc cold sore medication.

When the product is applied after the first signs of cold sore development appeared, the fever blister progressing decreased during the initial stage in 34% of the patients who used Abreva.

Abreva ingredients

The active ingredient in Abreva is Docosanol 10%. It is proven safe and effective in the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex labialis.

Other ingredients in this formula include:

  • Benzyl alcohol (a solvent and a preservative; may provoke contact allergy)
  • Light mineral oil (or Paraffinum Liquidum – colorless and odorless moisturizing agent; a by-product of the distillation of petroleum; there are concerns about the toxicity of this ingredient)
  • Propylene glycol (an ingredient, preventing the escape of moisture or water in cosmetic formulas and 1,3-propanediol –  a solvent and a viscosity decreasing agent in cosmetics)
  • Purified water
  • Sucrose distearate (emollient, emulsifier, and surfactant)
  • Sucrose stearate (a mixture of the sugar sucrose and stearic acid)
How does Abreva work?
The formula protects the healthy cells from developing the herpes infection, while provides adequate treatment for the fever blisters, affecting the facial area and the lips. It alleviates the discomfort (tingling, pain, burning, and/or itching), associated with cold sores and shortens the healing process.
How to use Abreva?
Apply Abreva 5 times a day until the cold sore area is completely healed. Make sure you have completely covered the fever blisters. This product is suitable for adults and children 12 years or over.
How often to apply Abreva?
Abreva should be applied every day, 5 times a day.
Lysine vs Abreva

Lysine is a cold sore medicine, proven to have beneficial effects in the treatment of fever blisters. It has been shown to reduce the frequency of attacks of oral herpes while promoting faster healing. It should be applied directly to the cold sores.

Lysine has a very good reputation among cold sore sufferers who tried it. But why do most patients say Abreva is the top cold core medicine? Most of the reviewers got better results with Abreva while treating their cold sores compared to Lysine.

Lysine treatment is among the most recommended options for fever blister management – it can be found in the form of tablets, creams, and various lip cold sore ointments.  The price is very competitive and Lysine indicates no adverse skin reactions.


Best Lip Balm: LEMON BALM Cold Sore & Shingles Salve!

Lemon Balm
689 Reviews
Lemon Balm

 

  • Potent natural, herbal remedy
  • Soothes the cold sores, reducing the discomfort associated
  • Fever blister medication with natural ingredients

This lip balm is a natural herbal remedy for the treatment of herpes and poxviruses. Almost all patients’ reviews are positive. The lemon cold sore balm is designed for the lips and other delicate areas that have blisters.

As it is 100% natural, it is safe to use on children.

It is recommended to use a clean Q-tip for the application of the balm, in order to prevent infection spreading of the content in the jar.

Patients say this is a great cold sore ointment with natural ingredients, plus the price is very reasonable!


Best Cream: Vivicin Natural Cold Sore Medicine

Vivicin Natural Cold Sore Treatment
41 Reviews
Vivicin Natural Cold Sore Treatment

 

  • Excellent fever blister cream, according to cold sore sufferers
  • Cold sore medicine free of chemicals and allergens such as parabens
  • Proven effect on herpes labialis based on patient reviews

Vivicin is infused with soothing botanicals such as arnica and baptisia, and nourishing oils including argan, grape seed, avocado, sweet almond, jojoba and olive oil that moisturize, reduce irritation and repair the skin. This product has very impressive reviews and rating and it is claimed to be one of the better cold sore cream out there.

Only 5% of the comments can be considered critical. However, you cannot expect immediate results:

Seems to help. No overnight success, but over 2 or 3 days things are much better.

Why is Vivicin a great cold sore medicine? We have 3 reasons:

  • Almost 80% ranked it an excellent product
  • The price-quality factor is very good
  • It is one of the few dermatologists recommended cold sores medicines

Zilactin Cold Sore Medicine

Sale
Zilactin Cold Sore Medicine
328 Reviews
Zilactin Cold Sore Medicine

 

  • Promotes fast canker sore healing
  • Reduces the inflammatory process
  • Up to 6 hours pain-relieving effect
  • Benzyl Alcohol-based canker sore medicine
  • The best-selling canker sore medicine

Zilactin is an over the counter medicine for canker sores, which dries out the canker sore while also putting a protective film over the affected area. More than 80% of those who tried it find the formula very effective. The product’s active ingredient is 10% Benzyl Alcohol [1] ( a local anesthetic). Below is a very useful advice a patient share:

” This product is best used at the FIRST tingle, warm spot, or if you think it could just be a bump”

Note that it may sting for a minute or so after the application of the product. After that, the substance quickly dries out and you should also have in mind that if you stretch your mouth, move around a lot, it will turn white and flake.

Why is it the best remedy for canker sores?

Patients reviews also say that within 2-3 day the canker sore will have completely disappeared, which is very well received since normally the pain, provoked by the ulcer goes away in 7 to 10 days and it can take 1 to 3 weeks for a mouth sore to completely heal.

Each 0.25 oz (7.1g) plastic tube contains:

  • Benzyl alcohol 10%  (a solvent and a preservative; may provoke contact allergy)
  • Boric acid (or Borax;  a naturally occurring mineral based on element boron; pH Adjuster; has restricted concentration when used in skincare formulas)
  • Deionized water (maximizes the shelf life of the products and also minimizes contaminants in the water)
  • Hydroxypropylcellulose (a film-forming and viscosity-increasing agent)
  • Propylene glycol (prevents the ecsape of moisture in water-based solutions)
  • Salicylic acid (an exfoliating agent, causing shedding of the outer layer of skin)
  • SD alcohol 37 (antimicrobial and solvent agent; may provoke dryness, irritation, and breakouts)
  • Tannic acid (protects the mucosal tissue from inflammations)

Quantum Super Lysine+ Cream

Sale
Quantum Super Lysine Cream
50 Reviews
Quantum Super Lysine Cream

 

  • Clinically proven fever blister medication
  • Added Zinc Oxide for faster healing
  • Ranked an excellent product by more than 75% of all patients

The cold sore ointment contains Zinc Oxide 1.2 %, Lysine and Olea Europaea (Olive) as active ingredients which are proven to fasten the cold sore healing process. This cold sore cream has extremely good reviews, including

  I started applying this yesterday morning and already my cold sore is starting to go away.

However, negative reviews inform that

Unfortunately, this didn’t seem to have any effect. Not too surprising if you read the ingredients – it’s really just menthol. Lysine is very far down in the list of INACTIVE ingredients.

which is highly disturbing and you should consider carefully before making a purchase.


Lysine Lip Ointment

Basic Organics L-Lysine Lip Ointment
948 Reviews
Basic Organics L-Lysine Lip Ointment

 

  • Relieves cold sores and provides deep hydration
  • Contains vitamins A, D, and E, Tincture of Benzoin, Menthol, and Camphor
  • Sait to be the best fever blister medicine, alleviating the symptoms of herpes

This ointment helps for the relief of cold sores, fever blisters, dry chapped lips, dry skin, and minor skin irritations. Almost 80% of overall reviews rate this product 5 stars.

Cold sore sufferers consider it very appropriate for those who don’t want to take L-lysine orally in order to reduce or prevent further outbreaks. There are couple comments, comparing the quantity of this product compared to Abreva:

compared to Abreva and their tube sized for ants

However, there are people saying that

The ointment left a thick film atop the sore after an hour or so of wearing it.

so you should consider applying it while at home.


Best Patches: Johnson Compeed Cold Sore Patches

Johnson Compeed Cold Sore Patches
233 Reviews
Johnson Compeed Cold Sore Patches

 

  • Prevent the spreading of the herpes virus, providing healing benefits
  • Great feedback from people who tried the cold sore patches
  • Can be applied on top of other topical ointments for herpes treatment
  • The most effective cold sore medication in the form of patches

These invisible Patches work by sealing any ruptured fever blisters. They are designed to prevent the herpes virus of spreading and, according to almost 90% of the reviews available, are very effective for both healing and instantly soothing the itching and burning sensations at the affected by cold sores area.

There are no negative comments, which leaves us with the hope that this might be the most effective over the counter cold sore medicine, preventing further outbreaks.

This Johnson’s product is clinically proven as a safe and effective alternative to topical antivirals aiming to treat the herpes simplex virus.

However, you should be careful when you drink liquids because

the patches tend to get lose and start to fall off like most bandages would.

Below you can see the before and after photos of a woman, who decided to try Compeed Patches out of desperation – she needed a fast and effective method to eliminate the blister:

Compeed patches for fever blisters before after


What are cold sores?

Cold sores are an infection in the form of blisters that is caused by the Herpes Simplex virus type 1. After the organism gets infected, herpes simplex starts developing in the nerve ganglion (a cluster of nerve cells located in the autonomic nervous and sensory system) of the skin around the lips and the facial area. This infection occurs mostly in childhood, usually preceding a kiss by a carrier of the virus. The virus passes through the skin and locates in the nerve cells. It usually appears during menstrual cycles, colds, flu, excessive tension or when one has a weakened immune system.

Remember:

Herpes is a contagious disease that is transmitted through contact with the affected area!

Most fever blister treatment methods belong to a group of medicines called antivirals. They are sold in the form of topical cold sore creams or ointments and are proven to provide the fastest results.

What are the active ingredients in a cold sore medication?

Multiple cold sore medications contain Zinc, Vitamin C, Acyclovir, Docosanol, Menthol, Lysine as active ingredients. According to Mayo Clinic, such ingredients will shorten the outbreak by as little as a few hours or as long as a day. Their purpose is to seal the ruptured blisters, healing the area affected and shortening the treatment period.

No matter what cold sore medicine you choose, you should carefully follow the directions prescribed on the cold sore medicine sheet!

How to treat cold sores on the lips

The skin on the lips is formed by 3 layers: epidermis, dermis and stratum corneum. The only difference between the skin on the lips and the other body skin is that the stratum corneum (the outermost layer) is much thinner. This is why this area is more sensitive and prone to any sorts of irritations.

Additionally, the skin on the lips lacks sebaceous glands and hair follicles, which makes it even more fragile.

All these characteristics make the appearance of cold sores on the lips area especially painful and irritating. This is why anaesthetic products (aiming to alleviate the pain and discomfort) are very suitable for the treatment of fever blisters on the lips.

Antiviral oral medications are usually prescribed to promote the faster healing process while preventing further outbreaks. Such include:

Abreva

Quantum Lysine Plus Lip Clear Coldstick

LipsPlus Herbal Healing Lip Balm Cold Sore Remedy

Note: As cold sores can easily spread in a moist environment, the first thing to do is keeping the affected area completely dry. For instance, if the fever blisters are located in the lips area, avoid licking them. A good cold sore medication for the lips is in thicker balm form – this way it will stay for longer.

Also, having a cold sore does not mean that you should reduce your water intake – on the contrary, you should even increase the consumption of water, as internal dehydration will result in slower healing and regeneration of the skin.

The most effective cold sore patches

Cold sore patches are an innovative, effective and easy-to-use technique to completely eliminate the unpleasant blisters. Of course, different brands use different active compounds but generally, cold sore patches combine antivirals and anaesthetic ingredients in order to simultaneously fasten the healing process and reduce the pain in the area affected. There are lots of patients saying patches are a great cold sore medicine, but the problem is that they are easily noticeable when applied to the facial skin.

Fever blisters can be successfully treated with cold sore patches at any stage of their development. However, the sooner you start your treatment, the faster the results.

These products should permanently act on the cold sore. The patches are usually invisible and very comfortable on the skin. They won’t provoke adverse reactions and will completely eliminate the cold sore within days.

The method is clinically proven to provide a safe and discrete effect, the fever blister will be immediately relieved from the common symptoms, associated with the outbreak. Herpes sufferers recommend the following cold sore patches:

Compeed Cold Sore Patches

Polysporin Cold Sore Healing Patches

Active patch For Cold Sores

Are creams recommended for cold sores

Cream-based cold sore medications aim to speed up the healing process and decrease the symptoms of the condition. Medically prescribed Zovirax, Valtrex, Famvir, Denavir fit into the most effective cold sore cream category, all of these are developed to shorten the treatment period. They are usually prescribed for more severe cold sore outbreaks, or in case the herpes infection has spread to other organs or systems.

Over-the-counter cold sore creams are also available and are usually a preferred option, as they are less aggressive. Such cold sore medicines are no different than other topical ointments used for the management of fever blisters. Among the fastest working cold sore creams available over the counter you can find:

Cicloferon Cold Sore Medication

Lysine Lip Ointment

Abreva

Orajel Moisturelock Cold Sore Medicine

Important

test allergic reaction behind ear

Everyone's skin is unique, and even if you have chosen the best product for your skin condition, the containing ingredients may still cause some irritation, burning sensation, rash or allergy.

To avoid potential skin reactions, we highly recommend performing a patch test before using the product (you can download printable PDF version here)

Last update on 2019-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Summary
Best Cold Sore Medicine of 2019 [Based on science]
Article Name
Best Cold Sore Medicine of 2019 [Based on science]
Description
Which is the best cold sore medicine? There are a number of natural treatments that can help. These treatments are known to reduce the pain of the blisters, cause them to heal faster, and may even lower the number of lesion recurrences you experience.
Author
Publisher Name
SkinPractice
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About the author

Monika Hristova

Monika is the Editor-in-Chief at SkinPractice. She is a skin care addict and researcher, who feels strongly about helping people with different dermatology conditions from alopecia to warts.

You can read her recommendations and advice both here at SkinPractice or at Quora where she answers skincare-related questions frequently and is the most viewed author in the Skincare category with more than 3 million views or follow her on LinkedIn.

She is also a certified skin care specialist with certification from the Medical College in Sofia.

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