Cold sores -- most people experience them sooner or later. Cold sores are incredibly common, and they’re also painful and irritating to the skin. But before you head to the pharmacy to get some over-the-counter medication, consider this: many natural and botanical ingredients work well to temporarily alleviate that stubborn cold sore pain, itching, and tingling. While you won’t be able to get rid of a cold sore with these helpful ingredients (especially considering nothing really helps you just “get rid of” cold sores), they can help with the discomfort while helping to nourish your skin.
What Are Cold Sores?
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are a type of viral infection. They’re characterized by fluid-filled blisters that usually appear around or on your lips, and contrary to popular belief, they can only appear on the outside. Any “cold sores” you get on the inside are actually canker sores.
Cold sores often eventually break and cause a scab to form over the open wound that can last for a few days. Left alone, cold sores will heal by themselves within 2 to 3 weeks and shouldn’t normally leave a scar.
While cold sores do heal on their own, they often cause really uncomfortable symptoms in the meantime, which is why many people search for ways to get rid of cold sores as fast as possible.
Symptoms of Cold Sores
Cold sores are super common and come with a host of uncomfortable symptoms that can range from mild to moderate in pain and irritation, including:
- Tingling and itching, especially around the cold sore and before it forms a full blister.
- Blistering, which are usually yellow or white in color. You should not try to pop any blisters you see since this may cause the virus in the fluid to spread, potentially causing more cold sores.
- Oozing and crusting skin sometimes occurs when blisters form and burst spontaneously, leaving open sores that crust over with a scab.
- General pain and irritation, as the affected skin is usually swollen and more sensitive than normal.
What’s the Best Way to Ease Cold Sores?
Ultimately, cold sores can be less noticeable just by leaving the affected area alone and trying to keep your skin clean. You can also use over-the-counter medications if your cold sores are particularly dramatic or painful. Luckily, there are also plenty of natural ingredients you can take advantage of that can help alleviate symptoms like discomfort and irritation. Again, these herbs and other natural ingredients don’t directly treat the cold sore but can help to temporarily alleviate arguably the worst part of a cold sore: the pain and itching.
Natural Ingredients for Treating Cold Sores
At Green Goo, we pride ourselves on being natural ingredient specialists, which is why we have a comprehensive list of all the natural ingredients you can use to treat cold sores fast. Most of these ingredients can either be found in your garden or purchased from a botanical store, so you won’t need to go hunting for rare plants. Even better, you’ll find all of these powerful plants in our Cold Sore Salve, so while you totally could make your own cold sore remedy, we’ve already done all the hard work for you.
The first ingredient is calendula, which is a type of flower you can easily grow in your garden. Calendula plants grow to full size quickly, and they barely require any tending on your part since they self-seed and can ward off pests.
Calendula is particularly beneficial since it has lots of antioxidants to protect your skin. Antioxidants have been shown to help fight free radicals. Calendula can also keep your skin hydrated. Best of all, it’s an excellent skin protectant that will nourish and cover your cold sore as it heals.
You'll also want to consider chickweed, which is a flowering plant that has centuries of history as an ingredient in folk remedies. Chickweed has lots of chlorophyll, as well as vitamins and minerals that can nourish and protect, especially as your skin works to naturally heal.
Furthermore, chickweed absorbs easily, rejuvenates your skin, and is soothing, moisturizing, and cooling.
Comfrey is another type of flowering plant that is chock-full of phytochemicals, which are naturally occurring chemicals made by plants to help defend themselves from infection and fungi. Comfrey should be applied topically and can provide some soothing effects for your skin.
This flowering plant is actually really close to the mint family of flowers. It has a long history stretching back to the Greek and Roman times, and it has a particularly complex composition including antioxidants, terpenes, and tannins. It can soothe, relax, and calm -- all benefits that work to ease some of the discomfort from that cold sore.
Myrrh is the resin of the Commiphora tree, and it’s been used by many cultures for millennia. This ancient ingredient can moisturize, soothe, and tighten the skin, serving as an astringent to help the skin along as it works to naturally dry out and heal the area around the cold sore.
No, not the banana-type of plantain. Plantain, also known as Plantago major, can be easily found in most American backyards and has tons of amazing protectant and nourishing properties (so much so we wrote a separate blog post about it). Try plantain for all of the terpenoids, flavonoids, and lipids contained within. Aside from being an excellent skin protectant, it can provide soothing, cleansing, and cooling when applied topically.
St. John’s Wort
This flowering plant is also chock-full of key vitamins and minerals like antioxidants, tannins, fatty acids, and essential oils, and is a veteran in the world of herbal medicine. Alongside soothing the skin, it's also a great pain-reliever and can moisturize and nourish the skin.
Last but not least is yarrow, which is related to the daisy flower and has a lot of beneficial components like salicylic acid and flavonoids. Specifically, it’s great for wound care because it gently tightens the skin to both help protect it and support your body’s natural healing process, meaning it can provide serious support for stubborn cold sores that don’t seem to want to go away.
Try Green Goo’s Cold Sore Salve
Like our other pain-relieving salve, this powerful cold sore treatment is made of the all-natural ingredients above (and then some), and can help to provide some temporary relief for most of the symptoms described earlier, like tingling, blistering, itching, and pain, while also working to moisturize and help nourish the skin around the sore.
At Green Goo, we know that the power of plants can effectively treat a lot of common issues we may usually go straight to an over-the-counter ointment for. However, these ointments have ingredients that are limited in what they can do for you, and worse, often come with undesirable additional effects. Plant-based ingredients, on the other hand, are rich with nutrients that have supplementary benefits to your skin on top of just working to soothe or relieve the discomfort.