Do you have cold sores and are looking for a way to treat them effectively? Are you wondering if the tablets for cold sores available in the market can help you?

In this post, we’ll discuss the effectiveness of cold sores tablets and how they could help you manage your condition. Read on to find out, “Are tablets for cold sores effective?”.

As you might already be aware, cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, which is highly contagious and can cause recurrent outbreaks of sores. Once acquired, the virus stays in your body, even if the sores have healed.

The good news is that there are medications available to help you manage and reduce the frequency of outbreaks. One such treatment is taking tablets for cold sores. 

The three most common tablets for cold sores are: 

Zovirax (acyclovir) 

Valtrex (valacyclovir) 

Famvir (famciclovir) 

These medications work by interfering with the ability of HSV-1 to replicate. This action reduces the number of viruses present, which helps reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of cold sore outbreaks. 

Benefits of Taking Tablets for Cold Sores

Reduced Symptoms

The most common symptom of a cold sore is a blister or group of blisters on your lip or around your mouth. These blisters may be painful, itchy, or tingly. Other symptoms may include fever, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in your neck or jaw, headache, or fatigue. Taking tablets for cold sores can help reduce these symptoms. 

Shorter Duration of the Outbreak

Cold sore outbreaks typically last 7-10 days without treatment. However, treatment with medication can help shorten the duration of an outbreak. According to one study, treatment with acyclovir began within 24 hours of cold sore onset reduced the duration of an outbreak by approximately half a day. Treatment with valacyclovir and famciclovir had similar results. 

Prevention of Future Outbreaks

In addition to reducing symptoms and shortening the duration of current outbreaks, taking tablets can also help prevent future cold sore outbreaks. One study found that people who took acyclovir daily for six months had about 50% fewer cold sore outbreaks than those who did not receive treatment. 

People who took famciclovir or valacyclovir daily for six months also had fewer cold sore outbreaks than those who did not receive treatment but to a lesser extent than those taking acyclovir. Treatment with these medications may need to be continued indefinitely to prevent future outbreaks.  

Potential Side Effects of Taking Tablets for Cold Sores

Like any medication, there is always the potential for side effects when taking tablets for cold sores. The most common side effects include nausea, diarrhea, and headache. However, these side effects are typically mild and go away on their own within a few days. If you experience any more serious side effects, such as difficulty breathing or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat, be sure to contact your doctor right away. 

Who Can Take These Tablets For Cold Sores?


Tablets for cold sores are approved for use in adults and can be taken by anyone over 18 years of age. However, if you have any other medical conditions or are taking any other medications, it is important to talk to your doctor first before starting a new medication. 


The tablets can be used in children as well. However, they should only be taken if prescribed by a doctor and as per the instruction of the doctor. Some tablets may not be suitable for younger children, so it is important to speak with your doctor about the best treatment option for your child. 

Alternatives to Tablets for Cold Sores

If you’re interested in alternatives to tablet treatments for cold sores, there are a few options available: 

OTC Medications

There are a number of over-the-counter cold sore treatments available that can help shorten the duration of an outbreak. Some popular OTC options include lip balms, creams, and gels that contain ingredients like docosanol, lidocaine, or benzocaine. 

Prescription Creams

In some cases, your doctor may prescribe a topical cream or ointment that contains an antiviral medication. These creams can help speed up the healing process by directly targeting the virus causing your cold sore outbreak. 

Natural Remedies

If you’re looking for a more natural approach, there are a number of home remedies that have been shown to be effective in treating cold sores. Some popular options include applying aloe vera gel or diluted tea tree oil to the affected area, applying a warm black tea bag compress to the sore, or taking lysine supplements.

Choosing the Right Medication for Cold Sores

Consult with a Doctor/Dermatologist

The best way to determine which cold sore treatment is right for you is to consult with your doctor or dermatologist. They can evaluate your specific situation and your medical history to recommend the best course of treatment for you. Additionally, they can answer any questions you may have about a particular medication or treatment. 

Research Medications

Before starting a new medication, it is important to research the potential side effects and risks associated with it. This will help you make an informed decision about which treatment is right for you. Furthermore, it is important to read the instructions alongside the medication carefully; an excess in dosages can result in negative consequences.

Talk to your Pharmacist

Your pharmacist can be a great resource for information about cold sore medications. They are knowledgeable about the different medications available and can answer any questions you may have. They can also offer assistance on how to use the medication correctly and safely.  

How Fast Do Cold Sore Treatments Take to Work?

Results Vary But Generally Start To Show Within The First Few Days

The amount of time it takes for a medication to start working will depend on the type and severity of the cold sore. Generally, medications start to show some effect within the first few days after starting, but it may take up to two weeks for the sore to fully heal. If you don’t see any improvement in your cold sore after two weeks of treatment, be sure to contact your doctor.  

Some Medications May Work Faster Than Others

The speed of the treatment may also depend on the type of medication you are using. For example, some antiviral medications may work faster than other medications, while natural remedies may take longer to start having an effect. 

Can you Prevent a Cold Sore?

There are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of getting a cold sore.

Keep your Immune System Strong 

This means eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly. The stronger your immune system is, the better it will be at fighting off the HSV virus. 

Avoid Contact with People Who Have Cold Sores

If you know someone who is currently dealing with a cold sore, try to avoid kissing them or sharing items such as drinking glasses or toothbrushes. 

Use a Lip Balm with Sunscreen

This will help protect your lips from the sun, which can trigger cold sores. Look for a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher. 

Treat Any Cuts or Scrapes Immediately 

Open wounds on your skin provide an easy entry point for the HSV virus. Be sure to clean any cuts or scrapes right away and keep them covered until they heal completely.  


So, are tablets for cold sores effective? The answer really depends on the type of medication and the severity of your cold sore. It is important to consult with a doctor or dermatologist to determine which treatment is best for you. You can also check our article on Which Is The Worst Cold Sores Stage?

Additionally, there are some preventive measures you can take to reduce your chances of getting a cold sore. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some helpful information about cold sores and their treatments.