The stinging, itching, burning sensation, and all-around general discomfort are something that everyone who experiences cold sores is all too familiar with. Often referred to as ‘fever blisters’, cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and are a reality for around 50-80% of the United States population so if you’re currently dealing with one; it’s pretty likely that you’re not alone [1].

Although there is currently no cure for the herpes virus which causes cold sores, the cold sore itself will typically heal in around 2-4 weeks. However, as anyone who has dealt with a cold sore will know, it can be particularly uncomfortable to deal with so thankfully, there are treatment options that may help speed up the healing process.

Related article: Cold Sores and Herpes: What you Should Know

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How do you get rid of a cold sore fast?

A cold sore usually starts with a tingling, itching, or burning sensation, and over a short period of time, small fluid-filled blisters will begin to appear. While these blisters are more often than not seen around the lip area, they can actually appear anywhere on the face. And while some people might get a few every year, some may experience one and never have another.

Cold sores are extremely common and according to the Mayo Clinic, they usually clear up themselves without the help of treatment in 2-4 weeks [2]. Still, there are a number of steps you can take towards treating a cold sore outbreak and speeding up the healing process.

Antiviral medications

If your symptoms are severe and the cold sore hasn’t cleared up within two weeks, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider. They will usually be able to diagnose the cold sore by taking a close look at it or with a blood test and they will recommend treatment options based on a number of different factors; including your age, medical history, and your tolerance for specific medications [3].

There are a number of different prescription antiviral medications that they may recommend, including:

  • Acyclovir
  • Famciclovir
  • Valacyclovir
  • Penciclovir

Related article: Can Herpes be Misdiagnosed? 3 Conditions Sometimes Mistaken For Herpes

Home remedies

There are plenty of home remedies you can try out to help treat your cold sore that can potentially shorten the healing time of the cold sore and ease the general discomfort that comes along with it.

Over-the-counter treatments

Mayo Clinic recommends the over-the-counter ointment Abreva which can potentially speed up the healing process of the cold sore [4]. There are also other creams you can get from your local pharmacy that contain a drying agent that should help with treating it.

Don’t forget to use a cotton swab to apply any ointment or creams to the cold sore to avoid it spreading to other parts of the body.


Cold sores are often triggered by stress, fatigue, or fever, which is why simply taking it easy and relaxing is one of the best things you can do. Put your feet up and apply a cold compress to help reduce redness and promote healing - or opt for a warm compress if the blisters are causing you pain. Lip balms containing lemon balm may also reduce redness and any swelling.

If the discomfort is particularly difficult to deal with, try over-the-counter pain relievers; ask your pharmacist for the best recommendation.

Related article: Can Herpes go Away on its Own?

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and while the herpes virus cannot be cured, if you experience cold sores and/or are sexually active; it’s always good to know more! This can be done with an at-home lab test.

LetsGetChecked’s at-home Herpes Test can detect herpes simplex antibodies for either HSV-1 or HSV-2. Online results will be available within 5 days and our dedicated medical team will be there to offer a helping hand should you have any questions.

You should consider taking the test if:

  • You become sexually active
  • You have had unprotected sex
  • You are experiencing symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection
  • You are entering into a new sexual relationship
  • You have received a notification from a previous partner that they are infected (STIs can remain dormant for years and/ or take up to three weeks to become detectable.)

Related article: How Do You Check For Herpes From Home?

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  1. John Hopkins Medicine. Oral Herpes. Online:
  2. Mayo Clinic. Cold Sore. Online:
  3. John Hopkins Medicine. Oral Herpes. Online:
  4. Mayo Clinic. Cold Sore. Online: