Herpes Labialis Treatment

Herpes labialis is caused by the herpes simplex virus, which leads to small fluid-filled sores or blisters developing in and around the mouth. Symptoms usually begin with a burning or tingling sensation in the corners of the mouth and the blisters have usually cleared up within 7 to 10 days.

Treatment outline

Cold sores usually resolve independently but several treatments are available to help ease symptoms and accelerate recovery.

Topical antiviral creams that slow multiplication of the virus and therefore progression of the infection are available. These can be bought over the counter. The antiviral agent should be applied as soon as symptoms first present (e.g. when tingling is felt around the mouth) because the treatment is not effective if it is applied after this initial stage. Examples of antiviral creams include acyclovir and penciclovir. It may be necessary to apply the cream up to five times a day, for four to five days.

For severe cases of herpes labialis, antiviral tablets may be prescribed as these are generally more effective at treating cold sores.

  • Docosanol is a saturated fatty alcohol that has been approved by the United States Food and Drugs Administration for use as a treatment for cold sores in adults who have a fully functioning immune system.
  • Cold sore patches containing hydrocolloid gel can also help to heal skin wounds. Painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can be taken to relieve any pain symptoms. Children aged below 16 years should not take aspirin, due to the associated risk for Reye’s syndrome.
  • General prevention measures that can be taken to stop the virus spreading include:
    • Frequent hand washing
    • Not making contact with the blisters through kissing, for example.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jun 10, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, June 10). Herpes Labialis Treatment. News-Medical. Retrieved on July 24, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Herpes-Labialis-Treatment.aspx.

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Herpes Labialis Treatment". News-Medical. 24 July 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/Herpes-Labialis-Treatment.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Herpes Labialis Treatment". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/Herpes-Labialis-Treatment.aspx. (accessed July 24, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Herpes Labialis Treatment. News-Medical, viewed 24 July 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/Herpes-Labialis-Treatment.aspx.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.