How To Stop a Cold Sore Early On

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There are few things as frustrating as the onset of a dreaded cold sore. Often starting with a tingling or burning sensation, these little sores can be quite an annoyance. Luckily, you can do a few things to help stop a cold sore in its early stages.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. This virus is transmitted through contact with an infected person, often through kissing. Once you are infected, the virus remains dormant in your body until it is activated. This usually happens when your immune system is weakened, such as during times of stress or illness.

If you notice the early symptoms of a cold sore, you can do a few things to help stop it from developing further. When it comes to cold sores, prevention is key. Here are a few tips for preventing and stopping a cold sore.

What Are Cold Sores?

Mouth herpes is a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). Infection with the herpes virus causes cold sores that last for weeks at a time. Oral herpes infection is also termed herpes labialis. It is a minor infection that typically manifests as a cluster of blister-like lesions on the lips, gums, or tongue.

Cold sores are highly contagious and can be easily transmitted through contact with saliva or other respiratory secretions.

These little sores cause a lot of misery. Not only are they unsightly and can make it difficult to eat and drink, but they are also very sore and can be extremely irritating. Cold sores usually heal on their own within a few weeks, but there are some things that you can do to speed up the healing process and make yourself more comfortable.

Cold sores can be treated with medications, such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex). These medications work by inhibiting the replication of the herpes virus. But there are also more holistic approaches that can be used to help reduce the symptoms and promote healing.

The Early Signs of a Cold Sore

It is hard to detect the early signs of a cold sore. However, some people may experience the following symptoms before the cold sore appears:

  • Tingling or burning sensations on the lips
  • An itchy or tingly feeling around the mouth
  • Slight swelling or redness of the lips
  • A feeling of general discomforts, such as tiredness, a headache, or a sore throat

These symptoms may not indicate a cold sore, but they are common early warning signs. If any of these symptoms persist for more than a day or two, it is possible that a cold sore is developing.

At this stage, you'll want to begin a cold sore treatment to speed up the healing process. Treatment is not necessary for everyone, as some people never experience any symptoms. But if you do experience symptoms, it's best to treat them as soon as possible.

How To Treat Cold Sores Before They Develop

The best way to treat cold sores before they develop is to start using a cold sore cream or ointment as soon as you feel a tingle or itch. This will help to stop the sores from developing. The following solutions are also effective at preventing cold sores.

Lysine - Lysine is an amino acid that helps to prevent cold sores from developing. You can take lysine supplements or eat foods that are high in lysine. Lysine-rich foods include fish, poultry, beef, eggs, beans, and dairy products.

If you are already experiencing a cold sore, you can apply a cream or ointment that contains lysine. This will help to speed up the healing process. Lysine-containing products are available without a prescription.

Zinc - Zinc can help to prevent cold sores from developing by helping to fight off viruses and bacteria. You can take zinc supplements or eat foods that are high in zinc. Zinc-rich foods include oysters, beef, lamb, pork, chicken, fortified breakfast cereals, and black beans.

Zinc is also available in cream or ointment form and can be applied to the lips to help heal cold sores. Look for a product that contains at least 10% zinc oxide, as this is the most effective form of zinc for treating cold sores.

Propolis - Propolis is a resin collected from pine trees. It has anti-viral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. You can apply propolis to the blisters of a cold sore to help heal them. Propolis is also available in oral form and can be taken to help prevent cold sores from developing.

Cold sore sufferers can also try a lip balm that contains propolis. This will help to keep the lips moist and protect them from the sun, as well as provide some relief from the symptoms of a cold sore.

Licorice Root - Licorice root is a natural remedy that is used to relieve symptoms of cold sores. Apply licorice root to the blisters of a cold sore several times a day.

Compress - Using a cool compress can help to reduce the pain and swelling of a cold sore. Place a cold compress on the cold sore several times a day.

Lemon Balm - Lemon balm is a traditional remedy for cold sores. Apply lemon balm to the blisters of a cold sore several times a day.

Prescription Drugs - Sometimes antibiotics or antiviral medications are necessary to treat a cold sore. Talk to your doctor about the best way to treat your cold sore.

How To Treat Cold Sores After They Develop

Once a cold sore has developed, the best way to treat it is to use a topical cream or ointment. The following solutions are also effective at treating cold sores.

Over-The-Counter Medications - There are many over-the-counter medications that can be used to treat cold sores. Try a topical cream or ointment that is specifically designed to treat cold sores.

Oral Antiviral Medicine - Sometimes oral antiviral medicines are necessary to treat a cold sore. These are typically prescribed by your doctor, but you can also get them at a pharmacy.

Intravenous (IV) Antiviral Medicine - Sometimes intravenous (IV) antiviral medicines are necessary to treat a cold sore.

Tips For Avoiding Cold Sores

  • Keep your lips moisturized
  • Avoid touching your lips
  • Wear a lip balm with SPF
  • Avoid licking your lips
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay away from spicy and acidic foods

Cold sores tend to appear during times of stress, so try to manage your stress levels. And finally, if you do experience a cold sore, avoid spreading the virus by following these simple steps:

  • Cover the sore with a bandage
  • Avoid touching the sore
  • Avoid sharing drinks or utensils
  • Do not kiss anyone

Can You Hide A Cold Sore?

There is no definitive answer to this question as everyone's body reacts differently to various over-the-counter and prescription medications. However, if you are looking for ways to hide or camouflage a cold sore, there are a few methods you can try.

Makeup - While makeup will not cure a cold sore, it can help to camouflage it. Foundation, concealer, and other color-correcting products can help to reduce the appearance of a cold sore.

Lipstick/Gloss - If you are experiencing a cold sore on your lip, using lipstick or gloss with a darker color can help to cover it up.

Medicated Balm - A lip balm or salve can help to soothe a cold sore and can also help to reduce its appearance of it. Look for a balm that contains benzocaine or lidocaine to help numb the area.


It's not easy to stop a cold sore once you feel it coming on, but it's not impossible. If you can catch it in the very early stages, you may be able to get rid of it by using a lip balm or cream that contains zinc oxide. You can also try taking a zinc supplement. If you're taking medication for a cold or the flu, ask your doctor if there is anything you can take to help prevent a cold sore.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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