Cold sores are unsightly blisters that form around the lips or mouth and can sometimes cause pain. These blisters are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, which is highly contagious and can remain dormant in our bodies for long periods of time.

People who suffer from cold sores may turn to Ibuprofen for relief from the pain and discomfort associated with this condition. But does Ibuprofen help with cold sores? Let’s take a look at how Ibuprofen works to relieve cold sore symptoms. 

The Effectiveness of Ibuprofen for Pain Relief

Ibuprofen is an anti-inflammatory medication that is widely used to reduce pain and inflammation. It works by blocking the production of certain enzymes that cause inflammation in the body, thereby reducing pain and swelling. 

Ibuprofen is most commonly used to treat muscle pain, headaches, arthritis, menstrual cramps, and other types of minor pains. It can also be used to treat fever due to its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. 

You can also check our article on How to Find the Right Doctor for Cold Sores?

How Ibuprofen Relieves Cold Sore Symptoms

Ibuprofen has been found to be effective at relieving some of the common symptoms associated with cold sores, such as pain and inflammation.

Taking Ibuprofen at the onset of a cold sore can help reduce pain, swelling, itching, burning sensations, and redness around the area affected by the virus. Ibuprofen may also help reduce healing time by reducing inflammation associated with a cold sore outbreak.  

Side Effects of Taking Ibuprofen for Cold Sores

While Ibuprofen has been found to be effective for treating some of the symptoms associated with cold sores, it does come with some side effects, such as nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea. Long-term use of Ibuprofen can also lead to gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers or bleeding in your stomach or intestines. 

Therefore it’s important not to take more than recommended doses or take it too frequently when using Ibuprofen for relieving your cold sore symptoms.

In addition, those who suffer from kidney disease should avoid taking Ibuprofen as it can cause further damage if taken in large amounts over prolonged periods of time.  

Alternatives to Ibuprofen for Treating Cold Sores

Although Ibuprofen is a go-to for many people seeking relief from cold sores, there are alternate methods that may help soothe the discomfort.

Over-the-Counter Medications

If you want to try over-the-counter medications without Ibuprofen, there are a few options available. Some topical creams contain menthol or camphor which may provide some temporary pain relief. 

Topical lidocaine is also an option, as it numbs the affected area and provides temporary relief from itching and burning sensations associated with cold sores.

However, be aware that these products do not prevent future outbreaks or speed up healing time and should only be used for short-term symptom management. 

Home Remedies

Home remedies can also help to ease the discomfort of a cold sore outbreak and encourage faster healing. Applying honey or aloe vera gel directly onto the sore will help soothe irritation without irritating further. 

Peppermint oil applied directly onto the sore can also help reduce discomfort by providing cooling relief from itching and burning sensations. Applying a warm compress to the sore multiple times per day has also been known to help reduce inflammation and promote healing. 

Prescription Medications

For more severe cases, prescription medications may be necessary in order to manage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and speed up healing time. Prescription antiviral creams such as acyclovir cream can help lessen symptoms like pain, swelling, redness, and itching while helping prevent future outbreaks as well. 

Oral medications such as Valacyclovir or Famciclovir can also be prescribed in order to manage more severe cases of cold sores that don’t respond well to over-the-counter treatments or home remedies alone. 


Cold sores can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but they don’t have to rule your life! While Ibuprofen is a popular and effective over-the-counter remedy for cold sores, there are plenty of alternative treatments available if you’re looking for something other than Ibuprofen for treating your cold sores. 

From over-the-counter medications like menthol cream or lidocaine ointment, home remedies like honey or peppermint oil, or prescription medications such as acyclovir cream or oral antivirals—you have plenty of options available when it comes to managing your symptoms quickly and effectively! So find what works best for you today.

We hope this article has answered the question, “Does Ibuprofen help with cold sores?” and provided you with some helpful options to manage your symptoms. Good luck!