11 Home Remedies for Cold Sores

Home remedies for cold sores, such as licorice tea or thyme infusion will naturally have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant and healing effects. They can be used to help relieve cold sore symptoms like itching, burning, redness and swelling.

Cold sores are an infection caused by the Herpes simplex virus that is typically transmitted through direct contact with an infected cold sore (when kissing for example), or through indirect contact (through sharing drinking glasses or utensils for example). An active infection can lead to swollen open sores around the mouth that last about 7 to 10 days. 

These home remedies for cold sores can be used from the first symptoms of cold sores until the wound appears. Although they should not replace medical treatment, they are a good option for relieving symptoms and speeding up recovery.

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1. Propolis extract

Propolis extract is a great home remedy for cold sores, as it has phenolic compounds, flavonoids and caffeic and cinnamic acids. These compounds contain antiviral action that inhibit the multiplication of the virus. Propolis also contains analgesic, anesthetic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which reduces pain and swelling.

Some studies show that propolis extract is more effective than acyclovir, an antiviral that is prescribed to treat cold sores.

How to use: To use propolis, apply 3 to 4 drops of the extract to the sores, about 3 times a day. Propolis extract should not be used by people with allergies to propolis, honey or pollen.

Also recommended: Propolis: 6 Health Benefits, How to Use, Dosing & Side Effects tuasaude.com/en/propolis

2. Lemon balm tea

Lemon balm tea is rich in phenolic compounds like caffeic, rosmarinic and feluric acids, which prevent the cold sore virus from multiplying and spreading. This can reduce healing time and relieve cold sore symptoms such as itching, tingling, burning, stinging, swelling and redness.

Read more about the health benefits of lemon balm and what is can be used for.


  • 3 tablespoons of lemon balm leaves
  • 1 cup of boiling water.


Add the lemon balm leaves to the boiling water, cover and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Then strain and drink 3 to 4 cups of this tea per day.

3. Peppermint essential oil

Peppermint essential oil is rich in menthol, menthone, cineole and limonene, which contain antiviral properties that prevent the replication of the herpes virus. It also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic action, which can help to combat symptoms such as pain, swelling and redness.


  • 2 to 3 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 1 glass of water


Add the drops of peppermint essential oil to the glass of water and mix. Soak a cotton ball or pad in this mixture and apply it to the cold sore wound for 30 to 40 seconds, 2 to 3 times a day.

4. Licorice tea

Licorice tea contains glycyrrhizin and glycyrrhizic acid, which are substances with antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. These act by inhibit the growth of the cold sore virus and can reduce inflammation. redness, swelling and pain from the wounds.

Also recommended: Licorice: 8 Health Benefits & How to Take (Tea & Capsules) tuasaude.com/en/licorice


  • 1 teaspoon of licorice root
  • 1 cup of boiling water


Add the licorice to the cup of boiling water, cover and let it rest for 10 minutes. Strain and drink this tea up to 2 times a day.

Licorice tea should not be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding women, nor by people with heart problems.

5. Thyme infusion

A thyme infusion is another good home remedy for cold sores, as it is rich in substances such as rosmarinic acid, apigenin and luteolin. These substances have antiviral action to help fight the herpes simplex virus, and also have antioxidant properties that help to strengthen the immune system and speed-up recovery.

Check-out the other health benefits of thyme and how it can be used.


  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried thyme leaves
  • 200 mL of boiling water


Add dried thyme leaves to boiling water. Cover for about 10 minutes, strain and drink 1 to 2 cups a day for a maximum of 7 days.

Thyme infusions should not be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding women, nor by people with heart problems, gastritis or stomach ulcers.

6. Sage and rhubarb tea

Sage and rhubarb tea is rich in cineole, camphor, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins, which are substances with antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These act by preventing the multiplication of the cold sore virus and can reduce symptoms like itching, redness and pain .

Additionally, some studies show that sage and rhubarb may be as effective in treating cold sores as acyclovir.

Also recommended: Acyclovir: What It’s For, How to Use It & Side Effects tuasaude.com/en/acyclovir


  • 1 tablespoon of sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of rhubarb stem
  • 500 mL of boiling water


Add the sage leaves and rhubarb stem to the boiling water. Let it infuse for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then strain and drink 1 to 3 cups of tea per day.

Sage and rhubarb tea should not be consumed by pregnant or breastfeeding women, nor by people with epilepsy.

7. Echinacea tea

Echinacea tea is rich in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory substances, like flavonoids and chicoric and rosmarinic acids. It can help reduce the production of substances that can cause pain, swelling, redness and burning in cold sore wounds, as well as boost immunity and recovery time.


  • 1 teaspoon of echinacea root or leaves
  • 1 cup of boiling water


Add echinacea leaves to a cup of boiling water and let them soak for 5 to 10 minutes. To echinacea root, you must boil the root together with water for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain either infusion and drink twice a day.

8. Blackberry tea

Blackberry tea contains antiviral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as it naturally has compounds such as anthocyanins, ellagitannins, quercetin and procyanidin. It can prevent the multiplication of the cold sore virus and eliminate it, as well as reduce symptoms like itching, redness, pain and swelling to improve wound healing.


  • 5 chopped blackberry leaves
  • 300 mL of water


Place the ingredients in a pot and boil for a few minutes. Soak a cotton ball in the still warm tea and apply directly to the cold sores.

9. Garlic and ginger tea

Garlic and ginger tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to allicin, a substance present in garlic, and compounds such as gingerol, chogaol and zingerone, in ginger. Together, they can relieve symptoms like pain, discomfort, itching and wound irritation. Furthermore, this tea also can also help to heal herpes wounds, preventing the emergence of infections on the lips.


  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 cm of ginger root or ½ teaspoon of powdered ginger
  • 1 liter of water


Boil the garlic in the water, then remove the pot from heat and add the ginger. Let it infuse for 5 to 10 minutes. Then strain and drink up to 3 to 4 divided doses throughout the day. This tea can also be applied directly to cold sores using a cotton ball.

Ginger should not be consumed by people using anticoagulants, and therefore should be removed from the tea in these cases. Learn more about the benefits of ginger and how it can be consumed.

10. Pomegranate tea

Pomegranate tea is rich in tannins, which are substances that have antiviral action against the cold sore virus. It can help to eliminate the virus more quickly and accelerate the healing of cold sores.

Also recommended: Pomegranate Tea: 11 Health Benefits, How to Make & Side Effects tuasaude.com/en/pomegranate-tea


  • 1 pomegranate
  • 300 mL of water


Remove the pomegranate peel and the films that cover the seeds inside and place these in a pot with water. Boil for 20 to 30 minutes. Wait for it to cool and strain. Dip a clean cotton ball in the mixture and apply to the cold sore 3 to 5 times a day.

11. Elderberry tea

Elderberry tea contains quercetin and kaempferol, compounds with antiviral action that prevent the multiplication of the cold sore virus. It can also help to reduce pain and swelling and improve healing, as it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


  • 1 tablespoon of elderflower flowers
  • 1 cup of boiling water.


Add the elderflower flowers to the cup of boiling water and let them infuse for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain, let it cool and drink this tea 2 to 3 times a day. The tea can also be applied directly to the cold sore several times a day.