An open cold sore is highly infectious and can be really painful. Not surprisingly, you want to know how to get rid of a fever blister fast.

Treating an active cold sore with an OTC medication is advised. While some natural remedies can also help, such as tea tree oil, over-the-counter treatments are tried-and-tested, and they can help to reduce swelling and shorten the healing time.

We will explore the various ways that you can treat a painful cold sore while avoiding other related problems. This includes how to prevent HSV-1 spreading and nasty infections.

Let’s look into things more deeply…

How Do I Treat an Active Cold Sore?

Although most cold sores will typically heal on their own within 10-14 days, many people seek out a medical aid. With a plethora of drug treatments are on the market, let’s explore a few of the better options.

Selections such as Xerese[1], Valtrex, Famvir, and Denavir are a few of the most notable options. Antiviral injections can also be administered for severe cold sore outbreaks.

While the help of a physician is one route, many people opt for proven OTC treatments. Available in creams, ointments, chapsticks, and patches, the market for treating open cold sores is plentiful. Each product seems to carry its own unique healing touch.

Regarding OTC treatments, here are a few selections:

  • Made with essential oils and other healing ingredients, HERP-B-GONE Soothing Balm is a cold sore treatment. Promising a 100% satisfaction guarantee, it is easy to apply and reduce the healing time to just a few days.
  • Designed to soothe redness, itching, and burning, the Super Lysine Plus Coldstick is an option. Serving to moisturize dry and chapped lips, this OTC cold sore treatment goes on clear. This product is essentially a chapstick catered to the cold sore sufferer.
  • If you want a good cover up and treatment, try the Compeed Invisible Cold Sore Patch. Essentially the best of both worlds, this patch will hide your blister while healing it. Promising to deliver up to 12 hours of continuous treatment, Compeed can heal your cold sore faster.[2]
  • Courtesy of light technology, your cold sore can be gone in roughly 48 hours thanks to the Virulite Electronic Cold Sore Treatment. With no oils or creams necessary, this device is a no-nonsense product. You might want to consider this item if you are serious about treating your fever blisters. This is a good device to have around the house if your cold sore outbreaks are common.

Stay away from self-treatments, such as nail polish remover and bleach. They’ll just make the situation a lot worse.

3 Basic Precautions with an Open Cold Sore

Something as simple as rubbing your lip has the potential to split a cold sore. It can also spread the virus or lead to an infection. That’s why it makes sense to cover it up with a quality medicated patch. You’re less likely to catch it, and others won’t be able to see it as easily.

Use medications as directed. Never abuse products. This goes for prescription drugs, OTC medications, and natural remedies.

Avoid random treatment methods, especially on an open sore. While some natural remedies are okay, avoid the unknown. Never use your cold sore as a “trial run” for some random experimental treatment. Never put salt on an open wound.

What to Put on an Open Cold Sore on the Lip

How to Prevent HSV-1 from Spreading

The objective is to quarantine the herpes simplex virus. Basic acts like washing your hands after touching your blister(s) can save you loads of grief. And, of course, you should change your bedding regularly to avoid the small risk of infecting others or spreading the virus to other areas of the face.

While hygiene is the key, being mindful of your behavior is also important. After applying your medication, wash your hands. Although it seems quite simple, it is easy to forget.

HSV-1 can be spread to other areas of your lips and mouth. The virus can also be transferred to your nose and the rest of your face.[3] This unwanted spreading can be prevented by limiting the contact with your open sore.

Another way to keep HSV-1 at bay is to take care of your facial skin. Not only the lip/mouth region where the infection lies but other areas. Always keep them free and clear of cuts and abrasions. HSV-1 thrives on even the tiniest of cracks in the skin, so shaving can cause cold sores to spread. Keeping the areas that surround the infection clean is very important.

To recap…

  • The best way to keep HSV-1 from spreading is to form a boundary. This can be done through responsible hygiene practices and skin care.
  • Always wash your hands after you touch your cold sore and apply medication. Never touch your face after touching your sore until you wash accordingly.
  • Keep your face fresh and clean. Caring for the surrounding areas is just as important as treating the active sore. The objective is to heal the sore while shielding the rest of your face from exposure.

Are Natural Remedies Better Than OTC Treatments?

It is truly subjective. Different strokes for different folks certainly applies in this case. Cold sore treatments, like so many things in life, are handled on an individual basis. If a product or remedy works for you, then it works. Everyone is certainly different.

While starting with OTC selections is advised, you certainly have the right to choose as you see fit. As long as you conduct your research and follow application guidelines, you will be fine.

The main objective, above all, is to find a solution and stick with it. If you have had one cold sore outbreak, you will likely have another. It is best to find a healing treatment now rather than continue to bounce around.

Will Natural Remedies Infect an Open Cold Sore?

The potential does exist. However, infection due to a natural remedy is typically caused by misuse or experimentation that doesn’t work out. As noted earlier, it is vital to use all medication as directed. All active cold sores must be treated with care. Active sores are naturally more susceptible to infection by default.

If you decide to use natural remedies, it is important to do your research. Some remedies, if abused, can cause burning and extreme pain. Although infection is not likely, you never want to irritate and anger your sore. Here is some advice on essential oils and cold sores.

While treating the sore is better than relying on natural healing, medications should calm and soothe the sore. This goes for both natural remedies as well as OTC selections. Irritating the sore is only asking for trouble.

Final takeaways:

  • Natural remedies can cause infection if the product is misused. Be sure to research thoroughly before treating your cold sore naturally, especially if various mixtures are required.
  • Calming and soothing the skin is one of the primary goals of medical treatment. Never do anything that will irritate the skin. Aggressive formulas, while not always resulting in infection, can cause extreme pain. This form of irritation could dramatically delay the healing process.

Treat Your Cold Sore With Care

Regardless of your treatment selection, it is important to realize you are dealing with a virus.

While OTC cold sore treatment methods are more extensive than ever, only documented treatments should be used. This especially applies to natural remedies. Be careful not to fall into the trap of trying out the latest fad. This is unwise, and the results can be damaging.

Our recommendation is that you begin with a known OTC treatment. You might have to try several depending on your unique situation. High-quality products such as Abreva, for example, can be helpful.


  1. Hull CM, Brunton S. 2010. The role of topical 5% acyclovir and 1% hydrocortisone cream (Xerese™) in the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex labialis. Postgrad. Med. 122(5):1–6. 10.3810/pgm.2010.09.2216
  2. Karlsmark, T. , Goodman, J. , Drouault, Y. , Lufrano, L. , Pledger, G. Randomized clinical study comparing Compeed® cold sore patch to acyclovir cream 5% in the treatment of herpes simplex labialis. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 2008;22: 1184-1192. doi:10.1111/j.1468-3083.2008.02761.x
  3. Van Vonderen JJ, Stol K, Buddingh EP, van der Kaay DC. Herpes simplex transmission to chest and face through autoinoculation in an infant. BMJ Case Rep. 2017 Aug 21;2017. pii: bcr-2017-220447. doi: 10.1136/bcr-2017-220447.