Do Certain Vitamins Work For Cold Sores?

Have you considered clinical trials for Cold sores?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Cold sores, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.


A cold sore is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV1 or HSV2), and its primary symptom is the appearance of small blisters on your lips and around your mouth. 

While it's best to treat cold sores immediately with prescription antivirals in most cases, many people have found that taking certain vitamins at the first sign can prevent their occurrence altogether. 

Read on to learn more about which vitamins help against cold sores and how they can potentially save you from an embarrassing or painful situation!

What are cold sores?

There are several different types of herpes viruses and some are more severe than others. With cold sores (otherwise known as herpes labialis or orolabial herpes), the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 or, less commonly, HSV-2) is the virus responsible for the infection.

This specific virus can lead to breakouts that result in small blisters or sores on or near your mouth (commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters). 

These sores usually heal within 2–3 weeks, but the herpes virus still sticks in the nerves in a dormant form. This is why herpes cannot be eradicated, as it never really goes away and can flare up at any time — often when infected individuals are under stress, are sick, or are in poor health.

How are they caused?

The herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) is the root cause of cold sores and is no different than HSV-2, which is the herpes virus that typically causes genital herpes. 

When the virus enters your body, it takes over cells and instructs them to make copies of itself. Once a cell creates enough viruses, it explodes, releasing the newly manufactured viruses into the body. The sores caused by the virus are painful infections that appear as scabby, crusty blisters around the mouth.  

Cold sore triggers

Some common causes of an oral herpes outbreak are a weak immune system, stress, lack of sleep, exhaustion, local trauma, illness, and hormonal changes such as menstruation. Additionally, UV (sun) light can cause an outbreak. 

Are cold sores linked to vitamin deficiencies? Although some studies have claimed vitamin D deficiency to be associated with HSV infections or reactivations, the association is inconclusive.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The first sign of a cold sore is a tingling sensation or pain around your mouth. This is followed by an eruption of blisters, which will crust over and eventually heal. There are many treatments for cold sores that can help speed up the healing process and reduce the severity and duration of an outbreak. 

If you have chronic cold sores, it's important to find the cause so you can treat it appropriately. 

How do you treat cold sores? 

There are several different treatment options for cold sores, and many of these treatments are available over the counter. Natural remedies include honey. Some over-the-counter medicines can also help with cold sore treatment, such as Abreva or Zovirax.

Prescription medicines that can be prescribed to treat cold sores include famciclovir and valacyclovir.

Are vitamins effective in managing cold sores?  

Isotretinoin (a vitamin A analogue) has been shown in some studies to exacerbate herpes labialis recurrence and to prevent recurrence in others. Thus, in the absence of a deficiency, vitamin A would not be thought to be beneficial.¹

Some studies have demonstrated a correlation between zinc levels and HSV recurrence. However, further studies are needed before zinc supplementation can be definitively suggested, as plasma zinc levels do not correlate well with tissue levels and are suppressed during inflammatory disease states.²

Dosage for treating or preventing cold sores

There is no evidence that vitamins can effectively treat or prevent cold sores. 

It’s advised to take some precautions before taking any supplements. Talk with a medical professional before taking any prescription medications while pregnant, as they can affect the baby's development. 

The lowdown

Herpes simplex virus is incredibly common. According to Johns Hopkins, “50 to 80 percent of American adults have oral herpes (HSV1).”³

The herpes simplex virus is currently incurable. But with proper medication and diet, it is possible to lessen the severity of flare-ups and shorten the time you experience discomfort. Many studies have been conducted to find the best way to treat cold sores.

From prescription treatments to honey, there are many options that may prove useful in treating your outbreaks. 

Frequently asked questions

What are cold sores?   

Cold sores are small, painful blisters that form on or around the lips and mouth. They're typically caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus 1. This type of herpes is spread through kissing or sharing things like utensils, toothbrushes, and towels with someone who has an active infection.

Cold sores typically heal in 10–14 days without treatment, but they can be very uncomfortable while they're healing.

Have you considered clinical trials for Cold sores?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Cold sores, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

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