Cold Sore Treatments - Why they fail and how to double their healing power

If you are sick and tired of wasting time and money on cold sore treatments that flat out don’t work, then keep reading.

Because you are about to discover a sneaky way to double the effectiveness of nearly any cold sore remedy or treatment you use by “timing” their application right.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t need a better treatment.

Maybe you do have a cold sore treatment that makes outbreaks vanish overnight. And if that’s the case, this page probably won’t teach you anything of value.

But maybe you’re looking for a better way.

If that’s the case, let me ask you: are you sick and tired of cold sore treatments that just don’t work?

I’d guess that that vast majority of cold sore sufferer’s don’t have a way to reliably fight off the symptoms of a cold sore outbreak.

No method that works the same every time.

That’s how you end up jumping from one cold sore treatment to the next, always hoping that “this one” is the one.

But it almost never is. You end up wondering if there even is such a thing as a treatment that actually works.

Then it’s back to the drawing board.

You head back to your old friend google and look up cold sore treatments… again.

What do you find? Dozens of treatments. Pharmaceutical treatments. Natural remedies. Home remedies.

You read about all sorts of treatments like Abreva, acyclovir, Valtrex, tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, lemon balm, lysine, ice, wet tea bags, popping the blisters, milk, cornstarch, toothpaste, ketchup, DMSO, apple cider vinegar, ear wax… the list goes on.

Some of them sound legit, some of them seem stupid and gross (looking your way ear wax).

You read up on a few, but get conflicting information on them. Some say they they’ll get rid of your cold sore in 24 hours, others say they’re a waste of time and don’t do anything.

So what do you do?

Do you pony up the moolah for an expensive pharmaceutical and risk the nasty side effects?

Or do you try a home remedy with something you on hand and risk it being a waste of time?

Your call.

But the point is, with dozens, maybe even hundreds of options, how the heck are you supposed to figure out which one works best?

It’s not like you can test each treatment and compare. That would take a hundred cold sores and probably over a decade.

But once in a while, you find a cold sore treatment that sounds promising.

One that really does sound legit. One with a good reputation.

You rush to the store to buy it, rush back home to try it.

You follow the instructions to a T, every single day.

At first, you don’t see much improvement. But you figure it must be normal. After all, cold sore treatments take a little bit of time to work.

But after a few days of barely any change at all, you realized you got fleeced by yet another treatment that doesn’t work.

You got sold a bill of goods.

But there’s another problem. Mainly, how do you know if your cold sore treatment actually works?

Here’s what I mean.

Say you get a cold sore and start using Abreva on it. It seems to work and you only get a small to medium sized cold sore. How do you know if it’s the treatment actually working its magic?

For all you know, it could be your immune system doing all the heavy lifting and your cold sore would have stayed that size anyway.

Truth is, you can’t know for sure.

The only way to test that would be to have two cold sores at the same time. Treat one and let the other run its course.

But who in their right mind would not treat a cold sore on purpose?

The point is, companies that make cold sore treatments have it good because you can’t say for a fact that the treatment they sold you didn’t help.

The best you got is a “sense” that it healed quicker than it normally would have (or didn’t).

But you don’t really know, do you?

Now it’s true, sometimes the cold sore treatment you use really does work.

You get a throbbing cold sore that’s growing fast. And as soon as you start using that new treatment, it stops is dead in its tracks.

You: 1, cold sore: 0.

Except, the next time you get a cold sore and use the exact same treatment thinking it’s gonna save you days of pain, shame and embarrassment… nada.

It doesn’t stop it, doesn’t keep your cold sore under control and turns you into a freak show just like every other cold sore you’ve ever had before.

Just another “one hit wonder” in your personal pantheon of cold sore treatments.

Heck, I can’t even tell you how much time and money I spent on different cold sore treatments that seemed promising, but ultimately didn’t do anything.

But you know what the worst part is?

It’s not the time you wasted researching, shopping, and using it.

Nor is it the money you spent on it.

What pisses me off the most is that every time you try a new cold sore treatment, you have hope.

Hope that you finally found something that works.

Something that stops the blisters from forming, or at least makes cold sores smaller, less itchy, less painful, less visible, less shamefully embarrassing.

A treatment that makes your outbreak go away in just a few days instead of weeks.

But most of the time that hope gets crushed crushed by crappy cold sore treatments that don’t do jack.

Anger and confusion.

Look, the cold hard truth is that the cold sore treatments most people use at best cut a day or two off their outbreak. They barely do anything to make the cold sore blisters smaller and less painful.

And they’re not consistent at all. They seem to work on some people, but not others. And sometimes, they simply don’t do anything.

That’s not good enough.

And it makes me raving mad that companies (pharmaceutical and otherwise) keep selling us the same crap they’ve been peddling for decades that still can’t do anything more than shave a day or two (or sometimes 3, if you’re lucky) off your outbreak.

I mean, what if instead you had a cold sore treatment that alleviated your symptoms as soon as you started using it, instead of having to wait days before noticing a difference?

One that took all the guess work out of fighting cold sores and worked the same every single time you used it?

One that stops the progress of your cold sore and prevents the symptoms from getting out of hand?

It would sure make life easier, wouldn’t it.

So what gives?

Why is it that the vast majority of these treatments don’t work nearly as well as advertised?

Let’s have a look.

Why most cold sore treatments don’t work

The way I see, there’s a few glaring issues that prevent popular cold sore treatments from being as effective they could be. And contrary to what you may believe, it’s not because they don’t do what they’re designed to do…

Let’s have a look.

Problem 1: Some cold sore treatments just don’t work.

A lot of the treatments you read about online flat out don’t work.

For example, some people suggest you soak a cotton ball in milk and hold it over your cold sore. Some people suggest you do the same thing with a wet tea bag. Some people tell you to make a paste out of cornstarch and put that on your cold sore. The list goes on. Ketchup, toothpaste, ear wax, antibiotics like amoxicillin, etc.

The problem here is that none of these products have any cold sore fighting or anti-viral properties whatsoever. Yes, even antibiotics (they’re great against bacterial infections, but don’t do much against viral infections, which is what cold sores are).

True, some of these treatments you’ll read about do have mild antiviral properties. It’s very limited though and it can’t hold a candle to pharmaceutical or natural treatments that actually do contain anti-herpetic compounds.

And what happens when you rely on a treatment that does nothing to slow the progress of your cold sore? Well, your cold sore is free to get as big and nasty as it wants, because there is nothing stopping it.

So forget even reducing symptoms or cutting a day or two off the duration of your cold sore. A lot of home remedies are just a huge waste of time.

Problem 2: Some cold sore treatments are just dumb

I’m always shocked when some people suggest things that have absolutely nothing to support their use as a cold sore fighting agent.

No science, not even anecdotal evidence. Nothing.

It’s as if some people get a cold sore, look around their house, pick up the first smearable thing they can find and decide to put it on their cold sore.

And then they report it as being the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Look, some home remedies do show at least some promise that they work against cold sores (even though they’re less than ideal).

For example, people who propose you use milk say it contains antibodies. It’s true.

Question is, do those antibodies help against cold sores and the herpes virus specifically? No, but at least there’s some sort of argument to be made there.

Same with wet tea bags. Many teas contain compounds with antiviral properties. Ok, I see the point. But to get the benefits from a used, wet teabag you’d probably have to hold it on your lip at least every hour for at least 20 minutes at a time. Can you think of a more inconvenient treatment?

Cornstarch has… ok cornstarch definitely falls into the dumb cold sore treatment category. In fact, it also falls into the “doesn’t work” category. There is NOTHING there that may suggest it has any cold sore fighting properties whatsoever.

Don’t waste your time.

Problem 3: Some cold sore treatments are dangerous

On top of not working, some cold sore remedies are flat our dangerous to use.

For example, the common practice of popping your cold sore is a pretty bad idea.

Why? Because when you pop the cold sore blisters, there’s nothing stopping the fluid contained inside them from spreading all over the place.

And that’s how one cold sore turns into two. Or three.

Or, how one cold sore sufferer turns into two cold sore sufferer’s…

But it gets even more dangerous/stupid.

See, I once read a suggestion from someone that claimed you should smear poop on your cold sore.

You read that right. Poop.

And no, I’m not joking.

Stick a finger where the sun don’t shine, pull it out and dab that dirty digit on your cold sore.

And somehow, that’s supposed to be a near miraculous cold sore treatment.

Yeah… I’m not doing that.

There’s a reason the expression “don’t poop where you eat” exists.

It’s because the organisms that live happily in your corn-hole can wreak havoc when they end up in the wrong orifice, like the pie hole.

Things like nasty throat infections that require antibiotics, sometimes even hospitalization.

And given that a cold sore is an open ulcer where the protective barrier known as “skin” is compromised, what’s stopping the bacteria living in poop from infecting the very site where your cold sore is? Now if you think a cold sore is bad, try a staph infection…

Or even worse, what’s stopping the poop-bacteria from getting into your bloodstream and turning into septicemia?

Not much.

Problem 4: Cold sore treatments that work, but aren’t used right

Then you have your treatments that actually do work, but with a caveat (more on that in a bit).

They work only in a certain context.

However, nobody shows you how to match them to the right stage of your cold sore.

What do I mean by that?

Cold sore outbreaks happen in stages. And depending on what stage you are at, the treatment you should be using will be different.

What works when you first get that tingling sensation may be utterly ineffective once the blisters are fully formed, and vice versa.

The problem is, nobody tells you that you should be treating each stage differently, with a different approach.

So let’s take a look at the different stages of cold sores, how a few common cold sore treatments fare versus each stage, and then what to actually do each step of the way.

The six cold sore stages and what treatments to use at each stage

Each cold sore outbreak you get goes through roughly five different stages. These symptoms you suffer through during these stages reflect the power struggle going on between your own body and the herpes virus.

Stage 0: The latency stage

Ok, so technically this isn’t a stage of cold sores, but it is worth mentioning anyway.

After a cold sore outbreak, the herpes virus has been defeated.

It’s down, but it’s unfortunately not out. That damn herpes virus will stay with you forever.

Instead of being completely destroyed and eliminated from your body like many other infectious viruses, the herpes virus manages to hide inside your trigeminal ganglia, out of reach from your immune system.

As long as it stays there, you don’t suffer from any symptoms. Not disgusting blisters, no pain, no itchiness, nothing. It’s basically hibernating.

This is where you want to keep the herpes virus. Check out our page on cold sore prevention to learn more.

Stage 1: The tingling stage

Once in a while and despite your best efforts, the herpes virus reactivates.

It wakes up (usually in response to one of your cold sore triggers) and travels down the trigeminal nerve.

From there, it escapes the trigeminal nerve and forces its way inside the skin cells of your lips.

Then, it hijacks the cellular machinery inside your cells and starts making countless copies of itself.

That’s when you first get a sign that something is wrong: that damn tingling sensation.

That “oh no” moment when all the bad stuff that’s about to happen flashes in your mind. A replay of the bad memories past cold sores seared into your brain.

How to fight the tingling stage

Use a cold sore treatment that prevents or blocks the herpes virus from entering healthy, uninfected cells.

Because if the virus can’t enter healthy cells, it simply cannot replicate itself and, in turn, infect even more cells.

This helps keep your cold sore small and makes it much easier to manage.

Stage 2: Blisters

Inside your skin cells, the herpes virus keeps making copies of itself until the cell walls can’t hold it any more.

The cells become so full of viral particles that they burst.

Then, each of the viral particles are free to float around and infect a healthy skin cell of their own and repeat the process. Infect, multiply, burst.

At this point, your immune system becomes entrenched in a war for your lips. It send out countless troops to fight off the invading herpes virus particles in the hopes of forcing them to retreat.

And your lips are just collateral damage.

This is how those nasty, fluid filled blisters that are unbearably itchy and painful form.

How to fight the blister stage

To fight the blister stage of cold sores, you need an antiviral compound to destroy as many particles of the herpes virus as possible.

At this point, using a treatment that prevents the virus from entering cells like during the first stage will not do much good, because the cells are already infected.

You need something that will either kill off the herpes virus particles that have taken over the skin cells of your lips, or something that will interfere with their replication cycle.

Stage 3: Ulcers

If left alone, the cold sore blisters can get filled with infectious fluid to the point where they just burst open on their own.

This leaves you with an open sore on your lips that hurts like hell and oozes fluid packed with new viral particles all over the place.

You gotta be careful here, because this is when your cold sores are at their most contagious. It’s far too easy at this stage to spread the infection to other areas on or around your lips where the whole process starts over again, or even pass it on to somebody else…

The only good news here is that this is the worst your cold sore gets (unless the herpes virus manages to spread to fresh, healthy skin). It only gets better from here.

How to fight the ulcer stage

Keep going with the antiviral cold sore treatment. In a sense, the ulcer stage is just a continuation of the blister stage. The infection is at its peak and your lips are entrenched in a battle with the virus.

Stage 4: Scabs

At this point, the battle against the herpes virus is over. Your immune system has basically won the fight.

But now, it’s time to repair the damage.

Those burst blisters slowly crust over and give way to big ugly scabs. The pain and itchiness gradually goes away.

The only annoying part is that those scabs crack and tear very easily and each time they do, your lips start bleeding all over the place.

How to deal with the scab stage

The infection is subsiding so an antiviral is pretty useless at this point. It’s still a good idea to keep using it for a bit, since it’s better to be safe than sorry.

But you also want to start using compounds to help the skin heal as fast as possible. That will give you the best chance to get back to normal life as quickly as possible.

Stage 5: Healing

The skin under the scabs slowly repairs itself and a few days later, the scabs simply fall off.

New skin is formed and eventually, it looks like nothing has ever happened.

Life goes on.

At this point, the herpes virus goes back into hiding inside the trigeminal ganglia into a state of latency, just waiting for its chance to start the whole process all over again.

How to deal with the healing stage

Keep using treatments that promote skin healing. At this point, it’s only a matter of time before fresh skin emerges and the remaining scabs fall off.

Then, transition into a cold sore prevention protocol to stop this whole ordeal from happening again.

There you have it. A simple rundown of each cold sore stage and what to do every step of the way.

However, all the solutions listed in the last section (infection blockers, antivirals, etc.) are nothing more than damage control strategies.

Sure, they can help you shorten the duration of each stage of your cold sore, but they can’t make a huge cold sore vanish overnight.

There is no treatment that can reverse the process. Once it’s started, it goes through all the stages listed above. There’s no turning back, or even skipping over any one stage.

The only cold sores that can disappear in just a few days are small cold sores.

So the secret to making cold sores vanish fast is to make sure you keep them as small as possible.

How do you do that?

You make sure to keep the viral load as low as possible.

The viral Load

In a nutshell, the viral load is the concentration of viral particles you are dealing with.

In other words, it’s the size of the herpes virus’ army. The intensity of the infection, if you will.

The higher the viral load you are dealing with, the bigger your cold sore will be and the less effective treatments will seem.

On the other hand, a lower viral load leads to much smaller cold sores and makes any treatment seem a lot more effective.

It’s a simple balance of power. A bigger cold sore requires stronger, more potent treatments.

On the other hand, a smaller cold sore requires less concentrated medicine to be equally effective.

So if you can keep the viral load low, whatever cold sore treatment you use will seem to be more effective, simply because it has less “virus” to deal with. And that’s goes double if you match the right treatment to the right stage.

These 2 factors are hands down THE most important things to know when learning how to get rid of a cold sore:

  • Knowing what stage your cold sore is at, and
  • Keeping the viral load low.

But for some reason most cold sore advice conveniently glosses over these factors, as if they don’t matter.

But believe you me, they do matter. A lot.

It’s the difference between having a huge cold sore that lasts for weeks and having a tiny outbreak that vanishes in a couple of days.


When it’s all said and done, there really is no single best cold sore treatment. Because it’s not a one size fits all type of deal.

You first have to figure out what stage of cold sore you’re dealing with.

Are you just now getting that damn tingling feeling? Then you need a treatment that’s gonna help prevent the infection from taking hold and cells from getting hijacked by the herpes virus, something like Abreva.

Are the blisters out in full force? Then you need a potent antiviral compound that can destroy particles of the herpes virus on contact. It can be natural like tea tree oil or lemon balm, or pharmaceutical like acyclovir. It’s up to you.

Are you dealing with big ugly scabs that constantly crack and bleed all over the place? Use treatments that promote skin healing and regeneration. Vitamin E oil works well.

It’s all about using treatments in a smart way.

Now of course, not even the best, smartest cold sore treatment protocol can make your cold sore vanish overnight, nor will it “reverse” the cycle of the herpes virus.

But a smarter approach is the only way to cut off more than a day or two from your outbreak.

However, I believe cold sore sufferer’s deserve something better than that. I believe cold sores shouldn’t last more than 2 or 3 days, IF they show up at all.

Unfortunately, relying on just cold sore treatments won’t get you there, no matter how potent they are.

You have to be willing to try something different, an uncommon approach.

After all, common advice will get you nothing more than common results.

The only way to make sure cold sores never bother you again, or at worst last no more than 2 or 3 days, is to start “treating” it BEFORE it shows up.

And you do that by keeping the viral load to a minimum.

Because no matter how smart you are with your cold sore treatments, it won’t matter if you’re dealing with a huge viral load. There’s only so much a topical cream, balm or oil can do.

The best way to keep the viral load low is to use cold sore prevention strategies, like those revealed inside the Cold Sore Control outbreak prevention system.

It reveals the little-known scientific discovery that can not only keep the viral load of the herpes virus to a bare minimum, but can even stop cold sores from coming back at all.

It has nothing to do with taking lysine, avoiding arginine, or gagging down expensive pharmaceuticals every day.

If you’re interested in making sure this is your very last cold sore, go read the first chapter of Cold Sore Control right now. It’s free. Just click here or on the button at the bottom of this page.

Because if you don’t get another cold sore, you’ll never have to deal with cold sore treatments ever again.

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