A cold sore, or fever blister, is a viral infection that can occur on the lips, tongue, or mouth. When the virus affects the throat, it’s known as herpes esophagitis. This condition can cause pain, difficulty swallowing, and other unpleasant symptoms.

Cold sores in the throat can be difficult to treat, but there are ways to manage the condition and reduce discomfort. In this post, we’ll discuss the causes of cold sores in the throat, as well as provide cold sores in throat treatment options. 

What Causes Cold Sores in Throat?

Virus Infections

Cold sores in the throat are usually caused by a virus, most commonly the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). This virus is highly contagious, and it can spread through contact with an infected person’s saliva, skin, or mucous membranes. It is also possible to contract the virus by sharing items such as toothbrushes, cups, or utensils with an infected person.

Allergies or Chemical Irritants

Cold sores in the throat can also be caused by allergies or chemical irritants. In some cases, these triggers can cause the virus to flare up.

You can also check our article on Can Cold Sores Be Painless?

Stress or Trauma

Stress and trauma can also cause cold sores in the throat. Sudden emotional stress, such as a death in the family or the loss of a job, can activate the virus and cause it to flare up. 

Poor Nutrition

Nutrition plays an important role in the body’s ability to fight off virus infections, such as cold sores. If you do not get enough vitamins and minerals in your diet, you may be more susceptible to developing cold sores in the throat.

Symptoms of Cold Sores in Throat

Pain or Discomfort on Swallowing

One of the first signs that you might have cold sores in your throat is a feeling of pain or discomfort when swallowing. This could manifest as an ache or soreness in your throat, making it difficult to swallow food or liquids comfortably.

If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort when swallowing, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible so they can diagnose and treat the underlying cause. 

Sore Throat

Another symptom of cold sores in the throat is a general feeling of soreness throughout your entire throat area. You may also experience swelling and tenderness around the affected area along with other symptoms of a cold sore infection; it’s important to seek medical attention right away so that treatment can begin immediately. 

Difficulty Eating or Drinking

If you have cold sores in your throat, then it’s likely that eating and drinking will become more difficult due to the pain and swelling associated with the infection.

You may find yourself unable to swallow food properly due to the inflammation caused by the virus. This can cause difficulty eating or drinking anything at all, so it’s important to seek medical attention if this symptom persists for more than a few days.  

Hoarseness or Loss of Voice

Finally, one of the most noticeable symptoms of cold sores in the throat is hoarseness or loss of voice altogether. This is often due to swelling around your vocal cords caused by the virus, which can make speaking difficult and even painful at times.

If this symptom persists for more than a few days without any improvement despite seeking medical attention, then it could indicate something more serious is going on with your health and should be addressed accordingly by a medical professional.  

Who is at Risk of Cold Sores in the Throat?

There are many groups of people who are more likely to develop cold sores in the throat than others.

People with Weakened Immune Systems

People with weakened immune systems due to medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS or cancer treatments like chemotherapy are more likely to contract HSV and develop cold sores in the throat.

If you have a weakened immune system, make sure to keep up with regular doctor’s appointments and follow their instructions for managing your condition. 

People Taking Certain Medications

Certain medications can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to contract HSV and get cold sores in your throat. These medications include immunosuppressant drugs used to treat organ transplant recipients, steroids, and certain antibiotics.

If you’re taking any of these medications, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce your risk of contracting HSV and developing cold sores in your throat. 

Older Adults

Older adults are more likely than younger adults to develop cold sores in their throats because their immune systems become weaker with age.

This means that older adults should be extra vigilant when it comes to avoiding activities that could lead to an infection, such as eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water.

Additionally, they should make sure they get regular checkups from their doctor so any potential infections can be identified early on and treated quickly.  

Young Children and Infants

Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable because their immune systems haven’t fully developed yet. Additionally, they may not understand how germs spread or why it’s important not to share food or drinks with others.

Parents should educate their children about proper hygiene practices and make sure they aren’t sharing items like toothbrushes or towels that could carry HSV from one person to another. 

Diagnosis of Cold Sores in Throat

Medical History and Physical Examination

Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms to gain a better understanding of what is happening with your body. They may also perform physical examinations such as feeling your lymph nodes or checking for any signs of inflammation or infection in the throat area.

Your physician may also request laboratory tests, such as swabs from the throat area, to obtain samples for further testing. 

Blood Tests

Your doctor may order blood tests to look for antibodies related to the herpes virus in order to confirm an infection.

These tests are typically done in a lab setting using a sample of blood from a vein in the arm or finger prick. Results usually take a few days and should provide accurate results if performed correctly. 


An endoscopy is a procedure where a thin tube with a camera on its end is inserted into the throat through either an oral or nasal passage. It allows doctors to get an inside look at any potential areas of concern related to herpes esophagitis.

And can be used as a diagnostic tool when other methods fail. Endoscopies are generally performed under general anesthesia or with sedation, depending on individual circumstances and preferences. 

Treatment Options

Antiviral Medications

The most common treatment option for cold sores in the throat is an antiviral medication. These medications work by attacking the virus that causes the cold sore and preventing it from spreading further.

They can also reduce swelling, itching, and other symptoms associated with cold sores in the throat. Common antiviral medications include acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex). 

Pain Relievers and Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be used to reduce pain and inflammation associated with cold sores in the throat. Corticosteroid injections may also be prescribed to reduce swelling or pain in certain cases.

However, these should only be used under a doctor’s supervision as they can have serious side effects if not used properly. 

Surgery (in Extreme Cases)

In rare cases where cold sores have become severe or resistant to other treatments, surgery may be necessary to remove them from the throat area. This type of surgery is typically only performed when absolutely necessary due to its high risk of complications.  

Alternative Therapies

For those looking for more natural alternatives to traditional treatments for cold sores in their throats, there are many alternative therapies available such as herbal remedies. However, it is important to remember that these methods do not always provide effective relief from symptoms associated with this condition.

Prevention of Cold Sores in Throat

Practice Good Hygiene

The most important thing you can do to prevent cold sores in the throat is to practice good hygiene.

This includes washing your hands before and after eating and drinking, as well as avoiding sharing utensils or other items that may come into contact with saliva.

Additionally, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and avoid sugary foods that can trigger cold sores. 

Avoid Triggers

Certain triggers, such as stress, fatigue, or hormonal changes, can cause cold sores in the throat to flare up. It’s important to identify these triggers so you can avoid them whenever possible.

For example, if stress is a trigger for you, then it’s important to make sure that you get enough rest and practice stress management techniques like yoga or meditation on a regular basis. 

Increase Immunity Through Nutrients and Supplements

Eating foods rich in vitamins C and E, as well as zinc, can help boost your immunity and fight off cold sores in the throat.

Additionally, supplementing with lysine has been found to reduce symptoms associated with HSV-1 infection by blocking arginine, an amino acid known to increase viral replication rates within the body.

Finally, adding probiotics to your daily routine may also help boost your immune system’s ability to fight off infections like HSV-1 before they occur.  

Drink Plenty of Water

Drinking enough water throughout the day can help reduce cold sores in the throat by keeping your body hydrated and supporting your immune system. It’s especially important to stay away from sugary drinks, as these can make outbreaks worse. 

Having a regular hydration routine, such as drinking lots of plain water or unsweetened herbal teas, helps flush out toxins from your body and may reduce the number of breakouts you have.

Additionally, limiting caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda may also help, as these can cause dehydration and make cold sores worse. 


Cold sores in the throat are an uncomfortable condition that requires proper care and attention to ensure successful treatment outcomes. There are a variety of different treatments available for this condition ranging from antiviral medications to surgery in extreme cases.

It is important to speak with your doctor about which treatment option would best suit your needs before embarking on any course of action so that you can make an informed decision about how best to manage your symptoms going forward. 

We hope that this article on cold sores in throat treatment has been helpful in providing you with insight into the available treatments and preventive measures for this condition.