Apple Cider Vinegar For Cold Sores: Does This Remedy Work?

If you are fond of home remedies, apple cider vinegar for treating cold sores is a good natural remedy.

Cold sores, also called “fever blisters,” are a common viral infection that many people sometimes get.

Usually, it takes up to 2 weeks for the sores to heal completely.

You can find several medications like OTC creams and ointments, prescription pills, or home remedies for it. 

However, those medications mostly help suppress cold sore symptoms. The herpes simplex virus type can remain dormant in your skin tissues for weeks or months, making it potentially dangerous.

Instead of using prescription medicines, which have side effects on health, it is safer and more effective to use natural remedies.

One of the best natural treatments for cold sores outbreaks is apple cider vinegar.

Let’s look at the benefits of using apple cider vinegar to relieve the symptoms of the infection. 

What Exactly Are Cold Sores?

Cold sores are small, fluid-filled blisters that develop around the mouth or on the lips.

In some cases, they may also appear inside the mouth, on the face, nose, or fingers.

Cold sores are contagious viral infections.

This infection usually clears itself within 7–12 days without treatment.

However, the HSV-1 virus that causes the infection can remain lodged in the body for a long time. For this reason, on average, their recurring incidence may happen twice a year.

A 2012 study estimated that 3709 million people (3440–3878 million) aged 0–49 years had a prevalent HSV-1 infection (67%).

Infants are highly vulnerable to the attack of HSV-1 infection.


Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). 

HSV-1 can stay in the human body in a dormant stage for a long period without causing infection.

However, this virus can become active when your immune system weakens, or other infections occur.

Some of the triggers are such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Illness and other infections
  • Emotional stress
  • Skin trauma
  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • Prolonged exposure to the sun

Symptoms and Appearance

They are fluid-filled blisters that usually appear on the lips and around the mouth. In rare cases, they might also appear on the fingers, face, neck, or inside mouth.

Fever blisters may appear as a single blister or in clusters.

They might cause pain, itchiness, swelling, rashes, redness, tingling, or burning sensations in the affected area.

Therapeutic Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is known for its several health benefits.

Some recent research has suggested that ACV ingestion may help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, improve diabetes, manage acid reflux, and many other things.

People often use this vinegar as a natural therapy to fight microbial infections on the skin, nails, and scalp. It’s a popular natural medicine for eczema, yeast infection, warts, dandruff, acne, and sunburn.

Apple cider vinegar can also work wonders for making your hair healthy and beautiful.

Its therapeutic power originates from the powerful compounds in it. These compounds include magnesium, potassium, acetic acid, enzymes, and probiotics.

It can easily heal and prevent common infections because it is antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial.

This vinegar also contains critical nutrients that boost the body’s immune system to defend against microbial infections.

The antioxidant elements in it lower the risk of common infections like herpes.

Its antiseptic properties also prevent the microbe from spreading beyond the problematic sore. This serves to quarantine the virus that causes canker sores.

This vinegar promotes the pH level of the skin, which is necessary to prevent and heal inflammation on the skin, like blisters and wounds.

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Help Treat Cold Sores 

Curing cold sores with OTC medicines or prescription medication is easy. But if you continue to take such medicines for a long period, they can have ill effects on your health.

Cider vinegar is an adequate natural solution that may help reduce the symptoms of the disease.

Many people extensively use it as an excellent overnight remedy for managing HSV infection.

Apple cider vinegar’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties relieve the pain caused by the blisters and reduce the bumps.

This vinegar balances the pH levels of the skin. Having a balanced pH level in the body can help reduce the eruption of bumps and promote faster healing of sores.

The essential nutrients in it enhance the body’s immune system to fight against pathogens.

The acids in this vinegar, especially acetic acid, can kill pathogens that cause viral infections.

Antioxidants in cider vinegar are useful for reducing inflammation and eruptions caused by herpes.

Arguments against using ACV 

A few natural therapists and researchers disagree with the apple cider vinegar treatment for cold sores.

Direct application of it to sores will cause a stinging sensation that is quite unbearable for many.

The sores may get worse in an alkaline environment. Raw cider vinegar is the only vinegar that is alkalinizing to the body. All the other vinegar is acid-forming. In such a case, ingesting raw vinegar may not be good for people who already have the required level of alkalinity in their bodies.

The sores make the skin tissues in the affected area less tolerant of harsh substances like acid. Local application of vinegar that contains more than 5% acidity may cause burns on the lips and skin.

How to Use ACV To Get Rid Of A Cold Sore

It is simple and easy to use for fever blisters and herpes.

Ingesting cider vinegar helps prevent the occurrence of herpes.

Applying vinegar to blisters caused by herpes helps relieve the symptoms of the infections.

Let us now look at two methods in detail.


Consuming this vinegar as a diet supplement is becoming more popular day by day.

Ingesting a tablespoon of ACV daily has the following benefits for healing cold sores:

  • improves the immune system;
  • helps maintain pH balance;
  • fights pathogens (including herpes simplex) from within;
  • detoxifies the body;
  • improves blood circulation.

Tips for consuming ACV:

  • Take one tablespoon of organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar;
  • Add the vinegar to a cup of water;
  • Consume the diluted apple cider vinegar with water
  • Have it on an empty stomach or 30 minutes before the meal.

The acid content in it can erode tooth enamel. Ensure to thoroughly rinse the mouth and clean the teeth immediately after consuming it.

Topical application 

The topical treatment of cold sores with this vinegar helps relieve the pain and itching caused by the infection.

Fluid-filled blisters caused by herpes begin to dry up faster with the topical application of it.

Cider vinegar is a good cleaning solution that can remove the flakes and scabs formed in the healing process of the blisters.

Tips for Topical Treatment: 

  • Take two ounces of organic, unfiltered vinegar in a bowl,
  • Soak a cotton ball in the vinegar,
  • Gently apply the vinegar to the blister-affected area,
  • After 10 minutes, wash the vinegar-treated area with lukewarm water.

Other Methods of Topical Treatment With ACV

You can bandage the ACV-soaked cotton ball to the infected area and leave it there for a few hours.

You may also add a few drops of lemon juice or honey to the vinegar you will use for the treatment.

After cleansing the skin, you can apply a few drops of diluted tea tree oil to the infected area to soothe and heal the blisters.

Side Effects And Warnings 

As in the case of most treatments, natural or otherwise, some complications of the treatment can occur in a few patients.

Some of the patient’s skin may not tolerate the acid content in the vinegar.

If your skin is dry or sensitive, avoiding the topical application of ACV for cold sore treatment is better.

Applying the vinegar directly to inflamed blisters will cause a stinging sensation and minor burns.

Ensure that the cotton balls or swabs you use on cold sores for applying the vinegar are sanitary. A lack of sanitation can aggravate or spread the infection.

Avoid applying the vinegar on open sores, as this might aggravate the skin condition.

For getting rid of cold sores, use raw, organic, unpasteurized, and unfiltered cider vinegar, which has the mother in it.

If you have sensitive skin, it is better to dilute the vinegar before using it for topical application.

After you wash off the vinegar solution from the affected area, apply lip balm or moisturizer to prevent dryness and scale on the skin.

If you are using the vinegar for the first time, test a small quantity of this vinegar on a small skin area.

Should You Use Apple Cider Vinegar?

You decide which treatments are best for cold sores. 

Despite a few anecdotal disagreements, the verdict on the effectiveness of ACV treatment for fever blisters is relatively positive.

If used properly, ACV may help you get relief from the symptoms of cold sores and herpes.

Topical application ACV can sting the blister and cause pain for a short period. However, it aids in faster drying of blisters and cleansing scabs.

The acid content in ACV also acts as an antiviral agent that may help eliminate the herpes virus, which causes the infection.

If you want the best results from this treatment, you should use the best ACV available.

As for our recommendation, you can use ACV to heal cold sores in addition to the prescription medicines you use.

Other DIY solutions To Heal Cold Sores Fast

Also, there are several other natural treatments for cold sores that are worth using. Here are a few home remedies you can try.

Lemon balm: Using lemon balm for sores can reduce the swelling and redness associated with the infection.

Aloe vera: Applying Aloe vera gel helps soothe inflamed skin. It is also a good moisturizer that removes scabs and scaling.

Toothpaste: Applying white toothpaste to a cold sore may work for some people.

Vitamin E supplement: Use natural creams infused with Vitamin E for topical application or ingest Vitamin E diet supplements. Vitamin E helps relieve pain and discomfort from sores. It is exceptionally beneficial for repairing damaged skin and reducing inflammation.

Vitamin C supplement: Make sure to have diets rich in Vitamin C. It boosts your immunity against the attacks of pathogens that cause infections. Vitamin C is also useful for the faster healing of sores.

Ice treatment: Doing a cold compress with ice packs reduces the pain and inflammation in the sores affected area.

Sunscreen lotion: Protect the sores from the sun by applying sunscreen lotion with SPF 30 or above. Sunscreen lotion may aid in the faster healing of sores and prevent future attacks of the herpes simplex virus.

Boost zinc intake: Include in your diet foods that contain plenty of zinc. This trace mineral helps boost immunity and reduce inflammation.

Peppermint Essential Oil: It is effective to use peppermint essential oil as a treatment for cold sores. This oil can inhibit the activities of HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses.

Echinacea Tea: Drinking Echinacea herbal tea boosts your immune system and reduces inflammation and pain caused by the infection.

Vanilla Oil: Apply vanilla oil or extract to the infected area. The anti-inflammatory and antiviral activities of vanilla help reduce its symptoms.

Do not Scratch or Touch: Avoid touching or scratching the sores. Scratching not only aggravates the sores but also causes the spread of the infection.

OTC and Prescription Medications To Prevent Cold Sores 

Usually, the sores will take about 2 weeks to completely heal, despite the treatments and remedies you try.

However, you can reduce its symptoms by using medications.

If you have recurrent outbreaks of the herpes virus infection several times a year, your doctor may recommend regular use of antiviral medications.

Some of the prescription medications:

The Final Thought

Apple cider vinegar for cold sores is a useful natural remedy worth using.

Many people have vouched for the effectiveness of ACV in managing microbial infections.

Eating a tablespoon of cider vinegar daily can help your immune system work better and get rid of pathogens in your body.

The topical application of ACV to the virus-infected area can lead to faster healing of sores. It is also beneficial for relieving the symptoms of fever, blisters, and herpes.

However, organic treatments have their limitations. They will not produce the same results for every person who uses them.

If you have chronic and recurring cold sore breakouts, you should seek the help of a doctor for treatment.

No proven scientific evidence suggests vinegar’s effectiveness in treating microbial infections like herpes.

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