Cold Sore Myths and Facts

Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family – Kofi Annan

While I’ve never personally had a cold sore, I know many friends and family members that have and because of this, I know it causes much stress and discomfort. The person might feel a range of emotions from frustration to helplessness, and might avoid social situations. The experience is unpleasant and even embarrassing.

This time of year, right after the holiday rush, yourself or someone in your family might experience a cold sore outbreak. This is because some of the triggers of a cold sore are fatigue, stress, cold weather, wind, and excess sun[1].

The first step in aiding someone who suffers from cold sore outbreaks is to get real information and separate the myths from the facts – and there are a lot of cold sore myths out there. While there is currently no cure for the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) which causes cold sores, knowing the facts about the causes and prevention will help those who suffer.

cold sore myths and facts


Cold Sore Myths and Facts

    • Myth: Cold sores are only contagious when you can see a blister.
    • Fact: A cold sore is contagious from the first tingle until it’s completely healed. Remember to take extra precautions to protect others from encountering the virus. If you have one, avoid kissing, sharing food utensils and remember not to touch it! 
      • Myth: Everyone who contracts the cold sore virus will experience an outbreak.
      • Fact: While it’s likely that 90% of adults have been exposed to the cold sore virus, not everyone gets cold sore outbreaks. Actually, only 20%-40% of people will experience cold sores. 
        • Myth: There is no way to shorten the healing time of a cold sore.
        • Fact: Some prescription medicines — as well as the over-the-counter medicine abreva® that contains the medicine docosanol – have been clinically proven to shorten the healing time of a cold sore. 
          • Myth: Tea bags speed the healing of cold sores
          • Fact: Tea bags will not make your cold sore go away faster. 
            • Myth: Ingredients like camphor, menthol and phenol can heal a cold sore.
            • Fact: Though these common lip balm and ointment ingredients can soothe or moisturize your cold sore, they’re not clinically proven to heal it. Real medicine like docosanol, which is only found in abreva, helps block the cold sore virus limiting its spread to surrounding healthy skin cells (and also works to speed healing). 
              • Myth: Your cold sore will stay only on your lip area.
              • Fact: Cold sores are caused by the HSV-1 virus and while they usually affect the lips or mouth, the virus can spread to the eyes or genitals. 


              abreva® is the #1 pharmacist recommended treatment for cold sores. *Use as directed.


              The key is to apply abreva® at the first tingle, and continue to apply it on the area five times a day {up to a maximum of 10 days} until it’s healed. 

              For yourself or someone you know – check out the abreva® website for real information and helpful resources like more cold sore myths and facts.

              They say knowledge is power, and knowing the myths vs facts when it comes to cold sores will only help those you love when dealing with an experience which is anything but pleasant. 

              Who do you know that could use some myths vs facts assistance when it comes to cold sores?


              Disclosure: This is a compensated post on behalf of abreva®, yet all opinions are my own.




              1. I am one who has suffered from cold sores since I was a child and it certainly is embarrassing because there are so many people who don’t understand exactly what they are from. Most people don’t know there are two types of herpes simplex virus, types one and two, and that over 40 million people in the US are affected with HSV-1. When I get a cold sore it’s like a battle to get rid of, but since I’ve battled them for so long I know exactly what do to when I feel one coming on.

              2. My close friend suffers from cold sores quite often and feels stress are what triggers her outbreaks. She keeps Abreva on hand to help them disappear as quickly as possible.

              3. Fortunately, I’ve never had cold sores but my husband does and he’s really quick to let me know if he’s getting one – by the tingle. They suck so bad he uses abreva and it helps it go away faster

              4. Abreva is the best. We always have it on hand because Jason gets cold sores. We have no idea how he got them but he’s had them since he was a little bitty boy. Abreva heals them up a lot quicker than if we left them alone. BTW: Never heard of the tea bag myth.


              5. This is a great post for those that may be experiencing cold sores. It’s good to know some of the myths too. I’ll have to share this post with some others. Thanks for sharing.

              6. I know some people who have suffered from cold sores. It’s great that you have cleared up these myths. It’s amazing how many people believe them.

              7. I had never heard some of those myths! Tea bags? Maybe because they’d soothe? Regardless, I can cross off all these myths & stick to what works.

              8. I have had a few cold sores in my life and they are always so frustrating. The last one i had i bought abreva and started using it at the first tingle. It works amazing. My cold sore was gone in half the time and it did not get very big at all. Now i make sure i always have some abreva just in case i get the tingle.

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