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.
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Herpes simplex. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/viral/herpes-simplex.html. Updated February 6, 2013. Accessed February 17, 2014.
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 February 17, 2014.
Oral herpes. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115104/Oral-herpes. Updated October 5, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2016.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD Last Updated: 3/15/2015