Natural Remedies for Canker Sores and Cold Sores

Cold sores and canker sores are often curable with natural remedies commonly found in the home.

Cold sores and canker sores are common afflictions, and some people are particularly prone to them. Have you noticed that these sores tend to occur when you feel run down? That happens because stress is a trigger. Having a weakened immune system—either from illness or medication—makes you more susceptible as well. Other triggers include changes in the weather and excessive sun exposure.

These sores will generally heal on their own in one to two weeks. There are also various over-the-counter treatments available, and minor sores on the lips, for instance, can go away overnight after being treated. Some sores are more severe, however, and emerge in areas that are not as easily treated with these products and where they are frequently being irritated. The good news is that there are home remedies that you can use to prevent cold sores and canker sores as well as cure them no matter where they may or do appear.

How to Prevent Cold Sores and Canker Sores

  • Limit acidic foods and drinks. Acidic foods and beverages can trigger cold sores and canker sores. In the event you get a sore, these foods can worsen the pain associated with it as well as protract the healing period. Tomatoes, citrus fruits and juices, sodas, hot sauces, spicy dishes, and so forth are all foods to avoid.
  • Enrich your diet with vitamin E and C. Vitamin C bolsters white blood cells and, thus, your immune system. Vitamin E is used by your skin during the healing process. Non-acidic sources of vitamin C include broccoli, potatoes, and most leafy greens. Sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils and nuts. You may also consider a multivitamin.
  • Take a daily probiotic. Probiotics are excellent for digestion and provide other health benefits. Depending on your diet, a probiotic supplement may be necessary to ensure you get enough. In addition, people prone to cold sores and canker sores can suck on probiotic lozenges that help to offset the triggering bacteria.
  • Take a Lysine supplement. Lysine is an herbal supplement. It is an amino acid and, in particular, one that the human body cannot make on its own. Lysine is often prescribed for cold sores because it neutralizes arginine, which is a common amino acid that can trigger cold sores and is found in many foods. You can purchase a lysine ointment in order to apply it directly to a sore, but an ingested supplement is recommended for prevention. The general recommendation is 500 milligrams on a daily basis to prevent cold sores and canker sores, and you can increase that to 4,000 mg daily during periods when you have a sore.
  • Use an SLS-free toothpaste. Sodium lauryl sulfate is a potent detergent found in toothpastes as well as shampoos and soaps. SLS can strip away the protective lining of the mouth and cause canker sore outbreaks and increased pain associated with such sores. If you are prone to these sores, ensure that your toothpaste is SLS-free.
  • Protect your lips. People who are prone to cold sores and canker sores should use lip balm on a daily basis. Apply using a cotton swab rather than directly, and opt for SPF 30 or greater for adequate sun protection.
  • Snack on licorice. Licorice can be a good snacking option for people who get cold sores and canker sores often. The licorice contains glycyrrhizin, which can counteract the viruses and symptoms associated with these sores. It also combats the bacteria linked to plaque. But be sure to avoid products with sugar, and you should rinse your mouth thoroughly with water when you are finished snacking.

How to Treat Canker Sores and Cold Sores

  • Treat with hydrogen peroxide. For many people, hydrogen peroxide—which most people have in their medicine cabinets at all times—is just as effective at eliminating canker sores and cold sores as the OTC medications. Use a Q-tip or cotton swab to dab the hydrogen peroxide onto the affected area. Do not rub, though!
  • Rinse with salt water. Salt water is the best option for cleaning your sore. It can provide significant and immediate relief from discomfort as well as accelerate the healing process. Just mix a teaspoon of salt into warm water. You can dab it onto your lips, or if the sore is in your mouth, swish it around and then spit it out.
  • Treat with vanilla extract. Hydrogen peroxide should do the trick, but if you do not have any on hand, vanilla extract can be an effective alternative. Use a cotton swab, and just dab the affected area.
  • Treat with cornstarch paste. Cornstarch paste is an old home remedy for cold sores and canker sores and effective due to how it neutralizes the pH of the sore. Such paste can also provide pain relief and be reapplied as needed.
  • Treat with a milk compress. A milk compress can provide immediate pain relief as well as accelerate the healing process. Milk has immunoglobins, which help to combat the virus that is causing the sore. Milk also contains lysine. As mentioned earlier, lysine inhibits arginine, which can cause and exacerbate canker sores and cold sores.
  • Relieve pain with an ice cube or ice pack. The cold can provide immediate relief to a painful sore as well as reduce any swelling.
  • Avoid touching your sore. Such sores are highly contagious and easily spreadable to other parts of your body. Have hand sanitizer readily available to use after accidentally touching the sore or treating it with medication.
  • Replace your toothbrush. Continue using your toothbrush while treating the sore. As soon as the sore heals, dispose of the toothbrush or brush head and use a new one. Your toothbrush likely carries the virus that caused the sore and can cause you to become affected again and again.


If you prefer to use a formal medication, consider antiviral creams. Docosanol creams are effective and available over the counter. If your canker sores or cold sores are more serious and recur frequently, then you may need a prescription for acyclovir or penciclovir cream.

Find Immediate Relief Through Laser Therapy

Scottsdale Cosmetic Dentistry Excellence offers laser therapy, which is a fast and effective way to treat canker sores and cold sores. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, recommends scheduling treatment as soon as you experience that familiar tingling sensation. Caught early, laser treatment can stop the breakout from happening. If the sore has already emerged, laser therapy is still effective at reducing the discomfort, and it can reduce the healing period by about half. Laser therapy is affordable, does not require anesthesia, can be used in a preventative manner, and is an excellent option for patients prone to such sores. Call us today at 480 585 1853 with any questions that you may have about laser therapy and to schedule your appointment.

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