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Can I Use Toothpaste for a Cold Sore?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 21, 2024
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Many people do not realize that a cold sore is actually caused by the herpes virus. You can use toothpaste for a cold sore to help relieve the discomfort, but toothpaste is not a miracle cure for herpes. While treating the symptoms and making yourself more comfortable is a good thing, applying toothpaste will not get rid of the underlying problem. It may help dry the sore out, make it appear less noticeable, and help alleviate stinging, but it will only provide temporary relief. It is always best to consult with a medical professional before trying any home remedies.

Before using toothpaste to treat a cold sore, apply ice to help diminish the swelling. After cleaning the area, use a dab of toothpaste. Avoid gels and instead use a white paste. It is suggested that the area should be cleaned regularly and that you should reapply the paste several times per day.

There are many home remedies that involve using toothpaste for a cold sore. One recommendation is to combine salt with toothpaste before applying it. Keep in mind that such suggestions are not medically proven and that applying salt to any type of sore is usually painful. Other suggestions include adding lime to this mixture, but citrus may also cause stinging when applied to a sore. If the mixture causes a lot of pain, it is best to gently clean it off and rinse with cool water.

More studies are needed to confirm whether or not the benefits are as sound as suggested. Also, some studies indicate that a specific ingredient in toothpaste may be an irritant, which may lead to canker sores and exacerbate cold sores. It is said that sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, may possibly create or aggravate such problems rather than helping. It is suggested that natural toothpastes are less likely to irritate and that those who suffer from various mouth sores should probably choose an SLS-free toothpaste.

There are medicines available specifically for this issue that can be used instead of toothpaste for a cold sore. Some of these are over-the-counter preparations but many are expensive, often prompting people to seek more affordable home remedies. The popular name brands of cold sore treatments seem to receive good reviews for alleviating discomfort and help in making sores go away faster.

Since there is currently no known total cure for herpes, even these preparations won’t completely resolve the issue. The medications that are available promise to help lessen the severity of cold sore outbreaks. They may lessen the time you have to suffer, but it doesn't guarantee that outbreaks won't reoccur.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon980646 — On Dec 06, 2014

Yes it does, actually.

By sheenwhite — On Jun 10, 2011

Some would say that treating sores can be done by using toothpaste. But it is not medically advisable for toothpaste does not contain any anti-bacterial agents. It is cold, so that is why when put on the skin it feels refreshing but it doesn’t do any better on the sore.

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