One of the biggest issues people tend to face with cold sores is the pain they often bring. The earliest sign of a blister can cause tingling and itching. That irritating sensation can turn into full-blown discomfort by the time the blister oozes and crusts over. So, solutions like the Campho-Phenique Cold Sore Gel are helpful when it comes to getting rid of that pain quickly.

Many the counter cold sore treatments are focusing on speeding up the healing time of a blister, and getting rid of the discomfort. The Campho-Phenique ointment promises those results, too. Better yet, it promises them in a matter of seconds.

Some people get fever blisters more often than others. So, being able to use a product that gets rid of that consistent pain is extremely important. However, weakening the appearance of the blister is also a plus, since they can be a source of embarrassment.

A product like Campho-Phenique claims to do both. There are additional positive features associated with this cream as well, but is it too good to be true? Finding the right cold sore solution can make all the difference in the world for constant sufferers.

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If you’ve been searching for that ‘perfect treatment’ for a while, this article can give you the information you need. With so many solutions on the market today, it’s necessary to know which ones will benefit you the most.

Below, you will find some common questions associated with this particular solution. We will also cover some of its most notable positive features, and even a few of its drawbacks. Is Campho-Phenique right for you? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

How Quickly Does It Work?

Like many over the counter cold sore products, Campho-Phenique works best when applied to a cold sore as fast as possible. The first lingering symptoms should be your cue to apply it as soon as you can. If you feel any tingling around the mouth, or itching, using it right away can help to reduce the severity of the blister, and speed up the healing time.

It can also help to alleviate a lot of the pain that goes with an outbreak. Some of the most common symptoms include itching and burning. When you experience an itching sensation with a blister, it’s nearly impossible not to touch it. Unfortunately, that increases your chances of spreading the virus and making the cold sore worse. With instant pain relief, the desire to scratch the affected area will lower, keeping it contained in one spot.

The instructions suggest that you use this medication before scabbing forms for best results. Just applying the gel directly to the affected sore will provide soothing relief in a matter of seconds. If you experience pain, itching, or burning, this can help to alleviate it extremely quickly.

If you’re just discovering this treatment in the midst of a cold sore, you can use it at any stage for pain relief.

Why Does It Work?

The key active ingredient in this formula is Camphorated Phenol (Camphor[1] 10.8% and phenol 4.7%). It is the phenol in the formula that allows it to work so quickly. Phenol helps to freeze the nerve endings in your skin temporarily. When applied to a blister, it creates a numbing sensation. It is considered to be a type of local anesthetic.[2]

These ingredients also have antiseptic properties. An antiseptic solution helps to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. In other words, it helps to keep the virus from spreading and thriving, stopping it in its tracks. This encourages the blister to heal faster.

The solution also helps to dry up the cold sore, without causing cracking. This helps to prevent possible infections and also promotes healing. Cold sores tend to be prone to cracking and splitting during the scabbing stage. If they do, it can take longer for the blister to heal. Preventing this cracking will keep you on track with a blister that heals up faster, and is less painful. It also creates an environment that makes it difficult for bacteria to thrive and grow.

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How To Apply? 

Campho-Phenique ointment is meant to be used for adults, or children over the age of two. If your child develops a fever blister under the age of two, consult with their doctor before applying this formula.

Regular use is easy to apply and can be re-applied 1-3 times daily for best results. You might feel a burning or tingling sensation when you apply the treatment. This gel comes in a small tube with a small opening. Once applied, it dries out quickly. 

To apply, simply follow these steps.

  1. Clean the affected area thoroughly. This will help to lower the risk of possible infection, especially if you’re applying at the oozing or scabbing stage of the blister.
  2. Apply the gel directly to the blister up to three times per day.
  3. To reduce the risk of spreading, use a Q-Tip or your finger to apply the gel. Do not put the tube directly to the blister. If you use your finger for application, wash hands thoroughly.
  4. Do not bandage or cover up the blister once the gel has been applied. It will penetrate into the skin on its own, create instant relief, and long-lasting healing power.

Does It Prevent Cold Sores?

Cold sores are never 100% preventable if you already have the herpes simplex virus inside you. They are highly contagious and can be contracted from direct contact, or by using something someone with a blister has recently used. They can even be caused by things like weather, stress, or hormonal changes.[3]

Can an over-the-counter product like Campho-Phenique keep you from getting cold sores? Not entirely. It’s not meant to be used as a daily preventative. Even if you were to apply it every single day when you don’t have a cold sore, you still might experience minor blisters.

However, if you do want to use it as a preventative measure, the best way to do it is at the very first sign of a flare-up. By applying it during your initial symptoms, you may be able to reduce the pain and appearance of a cold sore. In some cases, you can even prevent cold sores from occurring. That’s a huge positive for someone who regularly experiences flare-ups.

Is it Safe To Use?

Knowing all of the ingredients within the formula is important when you start to use a new over the counter treatment. While the ingredients in this solution are all safe, some people may experience allergic reactions.

The full list of ingredients includes:

  • Camphor
  • Phenol
  • Colloidal silicon dioxide
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Glycerine
  • Mineral oil

While camphor and phenol are the active ingredients, the others may trigger an allergic reaction in some people or may irritate those with sensitive skin. If you do experience any irritation, or you haven’t found relief after consistent use, stop using the solution immediately.

Campho-Phenique is easy to find and steadily gets great reviews from people who have given it a try. So, you can be confident in its safety. However, it is not a formula that is currently approved by the FDA. If you would feel more comfortable with an FDA-approved solution, try Abreva cream.

Pros and Cons

Is this treatment the most popular on the market? No, but it’s gaining a positive reputation due to its fast-acting results. Pain relief is enormous for people who consistently suffer from cold sores. Being able to control that pain in a matter of seconds is the biggest benefit of this medicated gel.

But, like any other product, there are positives and negatives to consider. Let’s take a closer look at some of the notable features, to help you make a more informed decision.


  • Works immediately to provide pain relief
  • Inexpensive
  • Helps to prevent infection
  • Easy and safe to apply


  • Not FDA-approved
  • May not shorten healing time as well as competitors

This medication’s primary purpose is to provide instant relief to painful fever blisters. The biggest benefit is that it can be used to alleviate that pain at any stage. However, it may not be as beneficial in speeding up healing if it is used in later stages.


Deciding which cold sore treatment is the best for your particular case greatly depends on the results that you need. Everyone wants pain relief, and for their blister to go away quickly. Some products perform one of those functions better than the other.

In this case, it doesn’t get much better than instant pain relief. If burning or itching are your biggest concerns when it comes to a blister, Campho-Phenique could be the perfect solution. You’ll experience relief in seconds, and you can re-apply the medication several times throughout the day, so you never have to be in constant pain.

If you use it quickly enough, it can help to speed up the healing process. However, the main focus is on pain relief and reducing the risk of infection. Because this solution is compact, inexpensive, and easy to use, you can take it with you wherever you go. It’s a practical way to get rid of cold sore pain quickly, at any stage.

We hope this article has been helpful and has given you more insight into the effectiveness of this medicated gel. While cold sores may not be entirely preventable, you can take comfort in knowing there is a product available that can soothe your symptoms quickly.

Our Verdict

Convenience:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
Speed:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Results:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Value:3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)
Average:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)


  1. Tran, T. A., Ho, M. T., Song, Y. W., Cho, M., and Cho, S. K. Camphor Induces Proliferative and Anti‐senescence Activities in Human Primary Dermal Fibroblasts and Inhibits UV‐Induced Wrinkle Formation in Mouse Skin. Phytother. Res. 2015; 29: 1917–1925. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5484.
  2. Ball, S. The use of phenol as a topical anaesthetic for the tympanic membrane. Clin Otolaryngol. 2015; 40: 506-506. doi:10.1111/coa.12437
  3. Opstelten W, Neven AK, Eekhof J. Treatment and prevention of herpes labialis. Canadian Family Physician. 2008;54(12):1683-1687.

Last update on 2024-06-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API