How to Reduce Redness After Picking a Cold Sore Scab

Updated July 20, 2017

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which can affect both the mouth and the genital area. A cold sore may signify that the immune system is a bit on the low side.The beginning of a cold sore on the mouth is characterised by tingling on the top or bottom lip, and soon it blossoms into an unsightly sore. It is difficult not to pick at a cold sore, but doing so will make it hurt more and get even redder. You can reduce the redness so the sore is not so obvious.

Apply an antiviral ointment from the drugstore. Anti-viral treatments are also available over-the-counter in tablet form. These will help suppress the virus that causes the cold sore, reducing its length and its severity.

Apply oils and creams with vitamins A and E to the skin, and dab them on the affected area. These increase the circulation to the skin, improving its healing ability through improved blood flow, which removes viruses and bacteria from the area.

Improve your immune system by eating foods rich in zinc, such as fish and eggs, and vitamin C. Eat a variety of plant-based proteins such as lentils and beans. Lysine, an amino acid in protein, inhibits HSV.

Dab tea tree oil on the cold sore. Tea tree is a natural antiseptic, so it cleanses the cold sore and kills the virus. It will also calm the inflammation, reducing the redness.

Apply cold items to the sore frequently. If you have an ice-cold can of soda, a cube of ice or a similar item, hold it on the sore 10 minutes at a time. It will calm the inflammation and reduce the redness.


To avoid spreading the virus to someone else, keep your hands washed and avoid touching your face. Cold sores can also be spread through kissing and oral sex. Ask your pharmacist about taking over-the-counter lysine supplements to speed healing of your cold sore.

Things You'll Need

  • Anti-viral ointment or tablets
  • Face cream or lip balm with Vitamin A or E
  • Tea tree oil
  • Ice or ice-cold object
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About the Author

Nicole O'Driscoll has been writing since 2000. She is published in "The James Joyce Bloomsday Centenary Collection" and has written about social exclusion and incarceration in Samuel Beckett's "Trilogy." O'Driscoll is a qualified nurse who manages a mental-health crisis house. She holds a doctorate in English literature from Newcastle University.