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June 15, 2024

How to Get Rid of a Cold Sore in 24 Hours: Quick Treatments

Cold Sores: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are small, fluid-filled blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). These viral infections are quite common, affecting more than 50% of adults in the U.S. Despite their prevalence, cold sores can be painful, unsightly, and take about 2-4 weeks to heal completely.

Causes and Triggers

Cold sores are highly contagious and can be spread through close contact such as kissing or sharing items like utensils, towels, razors, or cosmetics. The herpes simplex virus remains dormant in the body and can be reactivated by various triggers including stress, fatigue, sunlight, wind, hormonal changes, and a weakened immune system.

Trigger Description
Stress High levels of stress can weaken the immune system, making it easier for the herpes simplex virus to reactivate.
Fatigue Lack of sleep or extreme tiredness may trigger cold sore outbreaks.
Sunlight Prolonged exposure to sunlight can trigger cold sores, especially on the lips.
Wind Exposure to wind can dry out the lips, potentially leading to a flare-up.
Hormonal Changes Changes in hormone levels, especially in women, can trigger cold sore outbreaks.
Weakened Immune System Conditions that weaken the immune system, like illness or certain medications, can trigger cold sores.

Treatment Options

While there is no permanent cure for cold sores, several treatment options can help alleviate symptoms and accelerate healing. Prescription antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, famciclovir, penciclovir, and valacyclovir are highly effective for clearing up cold sores quickly, particularly when treatment begins early.


"Cold-Sore-Treatment" by PracticalCures is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Over-the-counter (OTC) options include antiviral ointments like Docosanol (Abreva), which can help reduce the duration of a cold sore. Other topical treatments containing anesthetic properties, like lidocaine or benzocaine, can also relieve pain and discomfort.

Home Remedies

Several home remedies can support the healing process and bring comfort. Cold compresses can help reduce swelling and numb the pain. Natural treatments such as apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, lemon balm, propolis, and kanuka honey may possess antiviral properties to aid healing. Additionally, supplements like lysine may help mitigate flare-ups.

Prevention Tips

Cold Sore Treatment 'On The Go'

"Cold Sore Treatment 'On The Go'" by TomSawyer is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Prevention strategies are crucial in managing cold sores. Regularly moisturizing your lips and using a sunscreen lip balm can prevent triggers like sunburn. Avoiding close contact with others who have active cold sores and not sharing personal items are also effective preventive measures. Managing stress through relaxation techniques and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce the frequency of outbreaks.

Sessame offers online appointments for quick access to healthcare providers for cold sore treatment. It's essential to consult a healthcare provider before using any medication or home remedies due to potential side effects and precautions.

In conclusion, while cold sores can be uncomfortable and persistent, understanding their triggers and knowing the available treatment options can help manage them effectively. It's important to seek medical advice if cold sores persist beyond two weeks, cause severe pain, or if you have underlying health conditions that may complicate healing.

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