According to the Mayo Clinic, about 90 percent of adults worldwide test positive for evidence of the cold sore-causing herpes simplex virus.
Many people can feel when a cold sore is coming on. They can feel an itching or tingling in the area the cold sore will appear.
People also use many different remedies, even some that aren’t clinically proven, to try to prevent the itchy tingling area from becoming a large and painful cold sore.
Popular remedies for cold sores that bounce around social media include:
- aloe vera
- lip balm
- baking soda
- petroleum jelly
- tea tree oil
The one that seems to come up most frequently is toothpaste.
When you feel a cold sore coming on, chances are it’s the triggering of the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) that has been lying dormant in your body.
HSV-1 is responsible for cold sores, and there’s a possibility that it might be suppressed by a chemical in toothpaste. Many toothpaste brands include sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS can help dry out blisters like the ones found on a cold sore.
Unfortunately, the only evidence that supports the claim that toothpaste is effective for cold sore prevention or cure is anecdotal. Anecdotal means that claims are based on personal accounts as opposed to clinical research.
Cold sores typically clear up on their own in a few weeks. Some home remedies you might consider to ease discomfort and promote healing include:
- over-the-counter (OTC) cold sore ointment, such as docosanol (Abreva)
- cold compress
- OTC pain relievers, such as creams with benzocaine or lidocaine
- lip balm with sunscreen
According to the Mayo Clinic, study results have been mixed for alternative medicine cold sore remedies such as:
To speed up the healing, your doctor might prescribe an antiviral drug such as:
- Acyclovir (Zovirax)
- Penciclovir (Denavir)
- Famciclovir (Famvir)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
Rubbing toothpaste on an area you’re expecting a cold sore may or may not prevent the appearance of a cold sore. On the other hand, unless you have sensitive skin, it might not do any harm either.
Bounce the idea off your doctor and, with their approval, give it a try to see if it works for you.