Cold Sore Cream – Let’s Help with the Healing Process

Cold sore cream main feature image dental aware

What is the best cold sore cream?

It is quite hard to narrow down the ‘best’ cold sore cream.

Cold sores will generally resolve themselves within a few weeks. However, an over-the-counter cold sore cream can help speed up the healing process.

Today I will cover what cold sore creams you can buy over-the-counter in Australia, including any which may require a prescription.

I will discuss what is in a cold sore cream, how they work, and how long they take to do so. I will provide reviews, side-effects, and talk about who shouldn’t use cold sore creams.

Finally, I will cover the natural remedies for cold sores, and whether they work.

Let’s begin, so you can start healing your cold sores.

Cold Sore Creams You Can Buy Across the Counter in Australia

Cold sore cream is a popular treatment for the herpes simplex virus that causes fever blisters to break out on or near your lips.

Below I have listed your choices for cold sore creams in Australia, sorted by where they are available to be purchased.

Your local chemist only:

Amazon only:

A local chemist or Amazon:

Your local pharmacy, Priceline, or Amazon:

A nearby chemist, Woolworths or Coles, Priceline or Amazon:

Cold Sore Creams Which Require a Prescription

An over-the-counter cold sore cream is not your only option.

While most people do not need treatment for their cold sores, there may be a time when you need a stronger medication to treat them.

This may be because you:

  • Regularly get cold sores, or
  • Are considered to be at high risk of getting severe complications from them, because you have, for example, a weakened immune system.

If you fall into one of these categories, your Doctor or Dentist can prescribe you antiviral medication such as Valtrex.

This is not a cream, but instead an oral tablet. It comes in two different strengths – either 500milligrams or 1gram.

Valtrex can also be used to help prevent an outbreak of further cold sores.

Talk to your Doctor or Dentist to see if this is a wise choice for you, and they will help create a treatment plan.

Prescription medication can be more effective than an over-the-counter cold sore cream, as was shown in this 2003 study.

Cold Sore Cream Reviews

In an old study done on the Treatment and Prevention of Herpes Labialis, it was found that:

  • Cold sore cream was effective when applied as soon as the first symptoms of the herpes simplex virus appeared.
  • The cream was applied 5 times per day for 5 days, and doing so decreased the length of recovery time by between 0.5 (4.3 instead of 4.8) to 2.5 (5.7 rather than 8.3) days.
  • In some cases, patients also reported a reduction in pain symptoms.

What is in Cold Sore Cream?

For cold sore creams to be effective, they may contain the following:

  • Antiviral Ingredients – Cold sore creams can have an active ingredient with antiviral properties, such as acyclovir, penciclovir, or docosanol.

A 2018 review shows that these ingredients work slightly better than a placebo by lessening the pain felt, all in 24 hours.

  • Zinc Oxide – Applying zinc oxide to cold sores aids them in healing faster.
  • Anaesthetic – Anaesthetic can numb the cold sores, reducing their itching, burning and pain.

It does not, however, speed up the healing process.

How Does Cold Sore Cream Work?

An older piece of research proposes that cold sore creams can slightly decrease the symptoms of a cold sore, and the time it takes for a cold sore to heal.

Meaning, applying a cream to your cold sore/s can soothe them, and assist in reducing their symptoms.

The active ingredient in the cold sore cream, for example, acyclovir, cuts down the lifetime of the cold sore.

It does so by attacking the virus directly and diminishing its’ capacity to reproduce.

Generally speaking, you will have to apply them 4 – 5 times every day, for up to 4 – 5 days. However, be sure to follow the instructions that come with the cream.

Cold sore cream feature image

How Long Does It Take?

A cold sore cream shortens the length of time the virus will last.

They do work best if you catch them when they start to form – that is, as soon as you become aware of their tingling feeling.

The cold sore cream will reduce the healing time to between 2 ½ to 4 days, compared to up to 2 weeks without treatment.

However, you may still be left with a scab for weeks another 2 weeks afterwards.

For tips on how to treat this, and more advice on how to help heal your cold sores, feel free to read my post here.

Can Anyone Take Cold Sore Cream?

As a cold sore cream is used to treat the herpes simplex virus infection, you should only use it if your doctor has advised you that your cold sores are caused by this virus.

However, there are still some people who should not use the product. These include those I have listed below:

  • Those who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the product (for example acyclovir).
  • If you’re pregnant, trying, or intending to get pregnant, or breastfeeding, unless your doctor has advised you otherwise.

Also, tell your pharmacist or doctor if you have any of the below, and they will advise you if it okay to use the cold sore cream:

  • If your cold sore is severe.
  • If you have an underlying medical condition that may have worn down your immune systems, such as an HIV infection, or bone marrow or organ transplant.
  • If you are using other medications, even those that do not require a prescription, as these can affect the way the cold sore cream works.

Another time you should not use a cold sore cream is if it:

  • Has gone past the expiration date (you will usually find this printed on the packaging), or
  • Looks as though the packaging has been tampered with or torn.

If it is expired or damaged, return the cream to your local chemist for disposal.

If you are at all unsure about using the cold sore cream, check with your doctor or pharmacist prior to using it and they will let you know if it is safe for you to use.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Cold sore cream is a type of medicine, and all medicines have their pros and cons.

Whilst, it aids most people, it can have unwelcome side effects.

Some are severe and may require urgent medical attention or even hospitalisation. These include:

  • A severe skin rash.
  • Itching.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling of your face, mouth, or throat.
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing.
  • A fever.
  • Low blood pressure (this will make you feel faint or dizzy).

This list is very serious side effects, so if you get any of these you should stop using the cream straight away.

Touch base with your doctor immediately, or go to the emergency ward at your nearest hospital.

However, these side effects are rare for a cream that is only used in small amounts for a short length of time.

Less serious side-effects include:

  • Momentary itchy, burning, and stinging sensations, and red, dry, flaky skin that feels tight on the area where the cream has been applied.
  • Allergic contact chindermatitis (that is, a hot, itchy rash, again where you have been putting the cream on). This is less common.

These side-effects are fairly slight, but if they carry on being bothersome, check with your Doctor.

If you notice anything else that makes you feel poorly at all, contact your Doctor.

Again, if any of these symptoms occur and they bother you, it is important that you check with a medical professional.


Whilst there is no known cure for the herpes simplex virus, and thus no cure for cold sores, when you/they do develop there are many ways in which you can help them heal.

This includes cold sore creams, prescription medications, and natural remedies.

For more tips on how to heal cold sores, such as when to begin treatment and what NOT to do, feel free to read my post here.

Andrew Adams

By Andrew Adams

Created at May 19, 2021, Updated at September 28, 2021

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