6 Best Cold Sore Medicines of 2018 [Treatment based on science]

Best Cold Sore Medicines of 2018

Everybody knows how annoying cold sores could be and most of us just wait a couple of days, until the problem disappears by itself (the healing process usually lasts 1-2 weeks).

However, in case you would like to fasten this period and avoid further cold sores outbreaks, you may be happy to learn that this is absolutely possible!

There are a number of natural treatments that can help. These medicines 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.

But which is the best cold sore treatment available?

The list below represents the most effective. best Over-the-counter cold sore medicines, based on the ingredients they contain, patients’ reviews as well as clinical trials.

1. Abreva FDA Approved Cold Sore Treatment

Abreva Only FDA Approved Cold Sore Treatment/Fever Blister Medicine to...
30 Reviews
Abreva Only FDA Approved Cold Sore Treatment/Fever Blister Medicine to...


  • Stops the progress of the blisters, treats the existing ones
  • Doconasol-based formula
  • Claimed to be the best cold sore medication

Abreva contains 10 percent 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.

If you check the patients’ reviews available Online, you may get really confused, as some people are really impressed by the results they got, while others are somewhat dissatisfied. Some of them claim to have had „Truly remarkable results” after applying Abreva, while negative comments inform about the size of the tube, which is smaller, compared to other OTH products for cold sore treatment.

Clinical results show that this treatment method 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 we added it to our best cold sore medicine list.

When the product is applied after the first signs of cold sore development appeared, the cold sore progressing decreased during the blister stage in 34% of the patients who applied 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 the condition and shortens the healing process.

How to use Abreva?

Apply the product 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 cold sore treatment vs Abreva

Lysine is a topical medicine, proven to have beneficial effects in the treatment of cold sores. 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 best fever blister medicine? Well, most of the reviewers obtained better results with Abreva, as Lysine formulas are not well tolerated by everyone. 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 ointments, the price is very competitive, while it indicates no adverse skin reactions.

2. LEMON BALM Cold Sore & Shingles Salve!

LEMON BALM Cold Sore & Shingles Salve! 1 Oz, Quickly soothe Blisters,...
595 Reviews
LEMON BALM Cold Sore & Shingles Salve! 1 Oz, Quickly soothe Blisters,...


  • Potent natural, herbal remedy
  • Soothes the sores, reducing the discomfort associated
  • The best fever blister medicine with natural ingredients

This is a herbal remedy for the treatment of herpes & poxviruses. Almost all patients’ reviews are positive. The lemon 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 the best cold sore ointment with natural ingredients out there, plus the price is very reasonable!

3. Vivicin Natural Cold Sore Treatment

Natural Cold Sore Treatment, .07 Oz, from Vivicin
41 Reviews
Natural Cold Sore Treatment, .07 Oz, from Vivicin


  • Excellent product performance, according to cold sore sufferers
  • Product free of chemicals and allergens such as parabens
  • Ranked the best cold sore medication by many who tried it

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 the best cold sore cream out there.

Only 5% of the comments available 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 it in this best cold sore medicine list? We have 3 reasons:

  • Almost 80% ranked it an excellent product
  • The price-quality factor is reasonable
  • It is one of the few dermatologists recommended cold sores medicines4. 4.

4. Quantum Super Lysine+ Cream

Quantum Super Lysine Plus Cold Sore Treatment Cream - 0.25 Oz
47 Reviews
Quantum Super Lysine Plus Cold Sore Treatment Cream - 0.25 Oz


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

The ointment contains Zinc Oxide 1.2% , Lysine and Olea Europaea (Olive) as active ingredients which are proven to help the cold sore healing process. The product 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.

5. Lysine Lip Ointment

Basic Organics L-Lysine Lip Ointment, 0.875 oz
671 Reviews
Basic Organics L-Lysine Lip Ointment, 0.875 oz


  • 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

The 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.

6. Johnson Compeed Cold Sore Patches

Compeed Cold Sore Patches 15 Patches by Johnson
200 Reviews
Compeed Cold Sore Patches 15 Patches by Johnson


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

These invisible Patches work by sealing any ruptured blisters. They are designed to prevent the virus 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 area.

There are no negative comments, which leaves us with the hope that this might be the best 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

Best fastest topical cold sore treatment

Herpes is an infection 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.


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 creams or ointments and are proven to provide the fastest results.

Multiple products for cold sore treatment contain Zinc, Vitamin C, Acyclovir, Docosanol, Menthol, Lysine as active ingredients. According to Mayo Clinic, such the best cold sore ointment 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.

Whatever the treatment method you choose, you should carefully follow the directions prescribed on the product sheet!

We at SkinPractice evaluated the best cold sore medication options for the fastest, least discomfortable treatment, made a thorough research, based on the ingredients they contain, summarized all the important data available and took into account hundreds of patients’ reviews. We identified the following cold sores medicines as the best performing ones, based on the above-mentioned criteria:


Lemon Balm


Fastest working cold sore medicine

The strongest cold sore medicines require a medical prescription. Such products have an antiviral effect, they slow the process of spreading the virus but they cannot eliminate it. The herpes infection will still remain latent in the body cells. Scientists cannot determine whether the best cold sore medicine is in a cream, ointment or liquid form – it all depends on the individual.

The symptoms, associated with herpes are relieved in a very short time but it is very important to carefully follow the instructions as directed and you should apply the medicine for the full prescribed length of time.

Remember to drink plenty of water during the entire treatment period!

Best medicine for cold sores on 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 anesthetic 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:


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. The best 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 anesthetic 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 the best cold sore treatment to buy, 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

Activpatch For Cold Sores

Best cold sore cream

Cream-based products for cold sore treatment aim to speed up the healing process and decrease the symptoms of the condition. Medically prescribed Zovirax, Valtrex, Famvir, Denavir fit into the best 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 creams are no different than other topical medicines used for the management of fever blisters. Among the fastest working, rated best cold sore cream available over the counter you can find:

Cicloferon Cold Sore Treatment

Lysine Lip Ointment


Orajel Moisturelock Cold Sore Treatment

Home remedies for cold sores

Tea tree oil

Naturenics Premium Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil - 100% Undiluted Pure...
176 Reviews
Naturenics Premium Organic Tea Tree Essential Oil - 100% Undiluted Pure...


  • 100% PURE ORGANIC TEA TREE OIL: This oil has been distilled and extracted from the very best leaves...
  • RECOVERY ESSENTIAL OIL: Treat Acne, Nail Fungus, Psoriasis, Athletes Foot, Toenail Fungus, Yeast...
  • INCREDIBLE SKIN BENEFITS: Tea tree oil can improve your skin in dozens of ways. It can fight...

The plant is also known as Melaleuca alternifolia or Melaleuca.
The healing effect, its’ anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties are known from centuries. The essential oil, extracted from the plant offers fast and effective treatment of painful herpes blisters. Considered the best fever blister medicine by those preferring plant extracts, instead of chemically derived products, tea tree oil is still the choice of many.

Dilute the healing oil with water using one part of the oil and three parts of water. With a cotton swab soaked in the so-prepared solution, apply the mixture several times over the affected area. In just a few days the herpes lesions will heal completely.

We recommend another recipe with the antiviral tea tree oil – by mixing one part of it with one part of olive oil. For additional effect, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to the mixture. Apply to the affected area several times a day, for about 4-5 days to comfortably and quickly get rid of the itchy blisters.

Full-fat milk

Even if it seems like a joke at first, full-fat milk is a powerful mean to save you from annoying herpes lesions. Its beneficial effect is due to immunoglobulins and calcium that help fight the herpes virus.

It has been shown that this irreplaceable dairy product accelerates the healing process of various viruses.

Soak a cotton swab in cold milk and apply on the affected area. Its action on the skin should last for at least ten minutes, so cover the herpes and try not to replace it. In case the lips are affected, avoid licking or wetting them during the treatment period.

Cold milk greatly reduces pain and soothes the tingling sensation. Repeat the above procedure repeatedly within the day and after several days of herpes there will be no trace.

Also, we recommend drinking one glass of “golden milk” (warm milk + one teaspoon of turmeric). Take two doses of healing milk for one week. The golden spice is a tried and tested remedy for reducing the pain process associated with the formation of unpleasant bubbles.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide Antiseptic Solution 16 Oz
190 Reviews
Hydrogen Peroxide Antiseptic Solution 16 Oz


  • Contents inside box may be substituted with equivalent products in different brand names
  • Local antiseptic to treat minor cuts and abrasions
  • 16 ounce

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural disinfectant and this determines its effectiveness in destroying the bacteria causing painful blisters on the skin surface.

The herpes virus develops in a damp and warm environment. Peroxide keeps the affected area dry and does not allow the growth of pathogenic microorganisms growing in such environment.

Soak a cotton swab in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and apply it on the herpes. Allow it to act on the skin for a few minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth and dry.

Repeat the treatment three or four times a day, within two or three days the results will follow.

An alternative is to prepare a paste of two powdered aspirin tablets and one teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Apply the paste to the inflamed area using a cotton swab to make the procedure easier. After two or three minutes, wash the paste with lukewarm water. It is enough to use this method once a day. Do not apply the paste for more than two days in order to avoid skin reactions!

Do not forget to completely remove the hydrogen peroxide from the cold sores after each procedure, as it may cause serious skin damage!

We at SkinPractice do not consider hydrogen peroxide the best cold sore treatment possible, as it can be too harsh for patients with very sensitive skin, it might be irritating for normal skin as well!


Cold ice cube compresses can significantly relieve the painful sensation, as well as help reduce swelling and redness, associated with herpes. This healing method alleviates the symptoms of the condition and also prevents the spread of the virus.

Feel the healing power of the ice by wrapping a few cubes in a cloth (you can also use a gauze). Put the cloth on the affected area and hold it on the skin surface for fifteen minutes. It is necessary to repeatedly perform the treatment every three or four hours.

After each session, apply a thick layer of herbal oil-based ointment (marigold, chamomile or other herbal balms with anti-inflammatory and antiviral effect).

This method is highly effective when applied immediately after you experience the first signs of swelling and itching of the lips, which usually occur within the first few hours or days before the appearance of herpes.

Crushed garlic

You can apply some crushed garlic, as it provides strong antiseptic properties. In fact, garlic is the fastest way to eliminate cold sores. Garlic happens to be the best cold sore medicine when talking about home remedies, it was even used in the past the treatment of genital herpes.

This medicine is indispensable and unique because of the content of enzymes that act as antiviral blockers that stop the development of the infection.

In addition to these effects, the strong antibacterial agents containing garlic disinfect the area and significantly reduce treatment time.

Prepare a paste of one or two peeled garlic cloves (you can use a garlic press or a blender). Apply the so-prepared paste to remove the lesions; it will take less than two days and there will be no sign of the painful and unpleasant blisters.

Keep in mind that the experience of applying garlic topically is not very pleasant, as you may experience stinging, but the results will be indeed promising.

Black or green tea bags

A method for immediate relief of the pain and discomfort, associated with herpes is applying a compress of black or green tea bags on the area affected. These two types of tea are rich in tannic acid, which acts as a firming agent in contact with the skin and has strong antiviral properties.

The beneficial effects of black and green tea are complemented by the rich vitamin and antioxidant composition of the herbs.

Put the tea bag (black or green tea) in a glass and pour with boiling water. After one minute the bag is removed from the water and allowed to cool.
The tea bag is applied to the affected area and gently pressed. After a few minutes, you can remove the bag.

Repeat the procedure five times a day. IThis natural medicine makes herpes disappear within four to five days. The results are slower, compared to similar home remedies for cold sores but the effect of relief is present immediately.


Peelu Toothpaste Mint Free, 7 Ounce
68 Reviews
Peelu Toothpaste Mint Free, 7 Ounce


  • Provides safe, effective dental care with a 100% natural, state-of-the-art formula
  • Nonabrasive toothpaste that works naturally to clean and brighten your teeth
  • Clean your teeth the natural way

Treating herpes with toothpaste is the most common method of getting rid of painful blisters.

The cosmetic product we use for toothbrushing and oral disinfection contains ingredients such as soda, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and menthol. They help the blisters dry out faster by sucking the pus accumulated.

The sodium lauryl sulfate contained in each toothpaste helps reduce the size of the fiver blisters within a day.

Apply a small amount of paste on the affected area just before going to bed. Leave it for the entire night or for at least two hours.

Perform the above procedure once a day until the lesions completely disappear.

Note: For the treatment of herpes simplex, we recommend using plain white toothpaste. Do not apply pastes with bleaching agents on your lips or other delicate areas.

Aloe vera

Majestic Pure Aloe Vera Gel - from 100% Pure and Natural Cold Pressed Aloe...
1 Reviews
Majestic Pure Aloe Vera Gel - from 100% Pure and Natural Cold Pressed Aloe...


  • Majestic Pure Organic Aloe Vera Gel is a cruelty free product
  • Majestic Pure Aloe Vera Gel; made with certified organic Aloe Vera; WATERY consistency as 99.7%...
  • Help soothe and hydrate dry, rough, itchy or irritated skin on contact. Can be used to help with...

The healing effects of aloe vera is another very effective way to quickly get rid of unpleasant herpes and the discomfort associated with it.

The plant has highly expressed antibacterial properties, thanks to which it has become an ideal disinfection agent.

Aloe is also known to accelerate the healing process, while it also helps reduce the pain and inflammation.

If you are using fresh aloe, just extract the gel out by chopping an aloe vera leaf or by simply squeezing it.

Apply the gel to the herpes with your fingertips. Wait until the substance dries out on your skin, then wash with lukewarm water.

You will experience a slight pinching of the skin, which is not unpleasant or painful. Repeat this procedure for three or four days.

Aloe Vera is a curative plant, which also has a healing effect on the skin. It keeps it clean and soft and prevents it from cracking and splitting, which leads to spread of the infection on a larger area of the skin.


Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey KFactor 16, 35.2 Oz, Unpasteurized,...
2,024 Reviews
Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey KFactor 16, 35.2 Oz, Unpasteurized,...


  • Raw, unpasteurized and Non-GMO Project Verified Manuka Honey
  • New Zealand superfood, great taste - smooth and creamy
  • Sourced, packed and labeled in NZ for genuine, unadulterated quality

Applying pure honey on the herpes extracts the pus from it. I personally prefer it above any other cold sore remedy – this has been my best cold sore medicine ever since I got my first breakout!

You can apply it to your entire lips. With this simple cold sore medicine, you get the anti-inflammatory effect, honey also has moisturizing properties that make the skin silky soft.

Propolis (clay tincture)

YS bee Farms - Propolis Extract in Honey - 11.4 oz
148 Reviews
YS bee Farms - Propolis Extract in Honey - 11.4 oz


  • YS Eco Bee Farms

A few drops of propolis, dissolved in water in a ratio of one to two will free you from the annoying fever blisters. Two or three drops of the so-prepared tincture can be added to the honey treatment recipe.

You can also consume this unique product internally to additionally accelerate the healing process.

An important thing to remember is that the best cold sore treatment is not always the expensive one – as you can see, there are multiple 100% natural, super affordable methods that could get rid of the problem!


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 2018-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Best Cold Sore Medicine of 2018 [Based on science]
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Best Cold Sore Medicine of 2018 [Based on science]
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.
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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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