In most cases, cold sores will heal on their own without any treatment. However, there are ways to help manage symptoms, decrease the length of time with an outbreak, and prevent future outbreaks.
Although treatment can help relieve or reduce outbreaks of cold sores, the virus cannot permanently be cured. The herpes simplex virus will persist in the nerve tissue once it is in your body.
Cold sore treatment includes:
There are no surgical options for the treatment of cold sores.
Herpes treatment. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/herpes/treatment.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Herpes simplex. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/viral/herpes-simplex.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Kuehl B. Cold sores: how to prevent and treat them. Skin Care Guide website. Available at: http://www.skincareguide.ca/articles/herpes/to_prevent_cold_sores.html. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Oral herpes. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115104/Oral-herpes. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 1/29/2021