Toothpaste on Cold Sores-Does toothpaste help cold sores?

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Cold sores are caused by a viral infection. The virus responsible for this is the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1). When a cold sore starts forming on your lips, the best you can do is let it follow its course. This means that the development of a cold sore goes through stages.

Medications taken are only meant to reduce the time taken to heal and prevent recurrence of the infection. They last about 10 to 14 days and it is the aesthetic loss encountered that leads to seeking for alternative management.

There are a number of home remedies that have been tried by people and have worked. Some have not and have instead of healing, led to an exacerbation. One celebrated method is the use of toothpaste for cold sores. Does applying toothpaste to your cold sores really reduce the healing time and treat the viral infection? Well, you are yet to know whether it does this from the content of this article.

Alongside use of toothpaste for cold sores, this article also mentions other methods that you can use.

Putting Toothpaste on Cold Sores-What does it do?

You might have used toothpaste on cold sores. You might have merely heard about its usefulness in treating cold sores. Just how true is this? How did it work on your sores? You can have a look at these key concepts about toothpaste gathered from hearsay and some studies.

  1. It balances off the acidic pH on the lips: it is known that an acidic environment facilitates the replication and therefore the survival of HSV. Acidic pH of the skin is brought about by some of the food that you eat, stress and chemicals you are using in cosmetics among others.
  2. It dries out the blister and reduces the period it takes to drain. Remember that you should not burst the blisters of cold sores as this may lead to scarring.
  3. It helps prevent an outbreak of cold sores when its use is initiated early. It is important to note the prodromal symptoms of a cold sore. If you have a tingling sensation, itch, burn, redness and swelling on the lip, then this could be the early signs of a cold sore.
  4. It provides some antiseptic properties. This is however dependent on the ingredients of the toothpaste. Some toothpastes have more to offer than others.

How does Toothpaste help cold Sores?

Toothpaste on cold sore home remedy-


Many people have suggested the use of toothpaste on cold sores as a treatment methods. However, hoe much do you know about how toothpaste does this? Have a look at the following with regard to the ingredients that are common in toothpaste products:

Baking soda

Baking soda is basically sodium bicarbonate. It is an alkaline chemical that on mixing with an acid, forms a neutral solution and water. This is what it does on an acidic surface or the skin in this case. If you have an acidic pH, baking soda will help outbalance this.

However, as mentioned earlier in this article, there are a number of reasons for having acidic skin. Stress and some foods are one of them. It is therefore imperative that the underlying cause identified and handled. The baking powder in toothpastes offers mild elevation of pH from the acidic units.

Sodium lauryl sulfate

This ingredient has been identified as the most effective active ingredient in toothpastes. According to Dentisse Premium Oral Care, this detergent is known to satisfy nearly all the requirements of a toothpaste. This is because it offers a foaming and solubilizing agent. Most importantly, it has mild antibacterial activity. The reports regarding the ability of SLS to cause cold sores and other forms of skin irritation are true but for concentrations greater than 5%.

However, the concentration of SLS in toothpastes is normally less than 2%. Hundreds of clinical trials have substantiated the efficacy and limited toxicity associated with the concentration of SLS in toothpastes.

The importance of SLS in this case, is related to its ability to reduce the period the blister takes to drain. This is done through drying and desiccation if offers on cold sores. This also prevents oozing and spread fo the virus to other parts of the lip.

Hydrogen peroxide

This is an anti-oxidant and a chemical with mild antimicrobial properties. Some toothpastes contain this chemical. Fortunately, you do not have to dilute the concentration in toothpastes as they are already in harmless quantities. The ability to reduce certain structures in the viral envelope enables it elicit a beneficial function on cold sores.


The amount of alcohol in toothpastes is not sufficient enough to make you fail a Breathalyzer test but enough for help in the treatment of a cold sore.Alcohol is an antiseptic that desiccates microbes.

This also adds to the activity toothpaste has on cold sores. It is however responsible for drying the mouth and care should be taken to apply some moisturizer afterwards. Drying is essential for the reduction of moisture in the viruses’ environment in which they thrive.


Menthol is a compound that can be synthetically obtained from peppermint or spearmint. It may offer analgesia to the pain felt with cold cores when ulcerated. In dental care and toothpastes, it is included due to the topical antimicrobial property it has. Its presence in toothpastes can be of great benefit in treatment of cold sores.


This compound is an effective antimicrobial agent that shows proven bacteriostatic action. It also has an effect on other microbes including fungi and viruses though its patency in the latter class is yet to be established. It can be found in toothpastes such as Colgate.


Similar to Povidone in activity against a broad spectrum of microbes including bacteria, fungi and viruses. In some toothpastes, this might be beneficial in preventing secondary bacterial infections and increasing the rate at which cold sores heal.

Instructions to Use toothpaste on Cold Sores

Now that you understand how your toothpaste, whichever you use can be of benefit in helping you manage your cold sores, it’s time to learn how to use the method. Outlined hereby is how to use toothpaste on a cold sore:

  1. Grab, at first notice of the prodromal signs of a cold sore, a toothpaste with the some of the above mentioned compounds.
  2. Wash your hands well with some soap and clean water.
  3. Collect a small stream of toothpaste onto your index finger.
  4. Apply the toothpaste on every cold sore you have and leave to stay. Leave it for at least 2 hours then wash off with a damp wash cloth.
  5. Repeat this procedure thrice a day. At night, you can leave the toothpaste on the cold sores overnight. Wash it off in the morning.
  6. After you have washed off the toothpaste, remember to apply some oil or petroleum jelly.
  7. Establish a compliance to this method until you notice that the cold sore is scabbed.

Note that this method may be effective in some people and not you. There could be a variety of other reasons to explain this based on other factors that affect the healing process of a cold sore.

Factors such as the competency of your immune system and the time of onset of management could be the influencing factors. When you start using a toothpaste late, then expect that it will take longer for the cold sores to heal.

cold sore home remedy toothpaste

Cold Sore on upper lip

Will toothpaste dry out cold sores?

Toothpaste can dry out cold sores. This is also an important mechanism through which it helps in the treatment of cold sores. It is able to dry them out through the following ways:

  1. Presence of alcohol: alcohol has desiccating effect on the skin. Hence it is able to dry out blisters and prevent the virus from replicating.
  2. Presence of sodium bicarbonate: this compound is osmotically active. This means that it is able to create a hypertonic environment around the cold sore and withdraw water by osmosis.

How to use toothpaste and salt cold sore

The use of toothpaste alone is not as effective as toothpaste and salt. Though coming with pain when using salt on an open sore, the benefits outweigh the side effects. There is fortunately a way through which you can apply this without the pain. Do the following:

  1. Ensure that the area is dry
  2. Press the toothpaste onto your finger then sprinkle some powdered salt onto the paste.
  3. Mix the two in between your fingers.
  4. Apply the mixture thereafter onto the cold sores at night and let it sit overnight.
  5. Wash it off in the morning then apply some oil or petroleum jelly.

The importance of salt in this mixture is its antiseptic and antimicrobial property. It also dries off the blister and makes the environment unconducive for the replication of the virus. Hence it provides a faster healing process and reduces the risk of secondary bacterial infections.

Tips and Precautions when using toothpaste to heal cold sores

There are claims against SLS and its link to cancer. Not much data is available to support this and hence no reason to raise alarms or be worried. You can however choose to go for the white toothpastes with not SLS if you want to play safe.

The other toothpaste products use natural ingredients and are regarded harmless.

There have been complains on the irritation caused by tooth pastes with SLS when using on cold sores. Keep in mind that people react differently to different medication and this is the case with toothpastes too.

Before using the toothpaste, you can use a test to see if you are hypersensitive to any ingredient other than SLS in the toothpaste.

There are other precautionary measures you can take:

  1. Avoid gel-style pastes
  2. Ensure that you have cleaned your hands with an antibacterial soap before applying anything to the cold sores. You can use any antiseptic including 70% alcohol, Povidone iodine or chlorhexidine.
  3. You can try opening up the pores of your skin by steaming yourself or taking a hot shower before applying the toothpaste. This will increase the rate and ease at which the toothpaste’s chemicals penetrate the skin.
  4. Consult a specialist when you have cold sores that have persisted beyond the 14th day or keeps reoccurring.

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