How Do I Choose the Best Cold Sore Ointment?

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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 23 July 2019
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Some cold sore medications are taken orally and some are applied topically. Cold sore ointment is an example of the latter and a popular way of treating a cold sore. These can be antiviral, anesthetic or contain ingredients such as zinc oxide. The best way to choose between the different ointments is to determine which symptoms you wish to treat and figure out which active ingredients work most effectively on you. The virus should be treated as early as possible as this can shorten the healing time.

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It is a highly contagious virus, and there are billions of sufferers all over the world. There is no cure for cold sores, but they can be treated successfully and thus kept under control. Some people have very few outbreaks while others are afflicted regularly.

There are topical creams which are antiviral, in which case they usually require a doctor's prescription. There are also over-the-counter remedies for cold sores that contain zinc oxide, helpful in the lessening of the severity of the outbreaks. Painful sores can be treated with a cold sore ointment containing an anesthetic.


The blisters that usually appear on the lips, gums or roof of the mouth are usually preceded by a painful tingling in the affected area a few days before. Sufferers who are familiar with the sensation should apply a cold sore ointment as soon as possible, as the quicker treatment is applied, the shorter the lifespan of the virus. There are several ingredients that have been found to be particularly helpful.

Docosanal, otherwise known as behenyl alcohol, is an approved antiviral agent that is said to significantly lessen the healing time. Zinc oxide is another ingredient in cold sore ointments that acts to soften the skin and relieve dryness. Pain relief is often a necessary function of a cold sore ointment, so analgesics and anesthetics such as benzyl alcohol, benxocaine, lidocaine and phenol are commonly found ingredients.

Home remedies include lysine, an amino acid that is used to make protein and has also been found to inhibit the spread of cold sores. It may be taken as a supplement, through food sources or applied as an ingredient in a cold sore ointment. Lemon balm, aloe vera and peppermint oil are also believed to be effective home remedies for cold sores.



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