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February 23, 2024

Toothpaste on Cold Sores: Does It Really Work?

A close up on someone's mouth with a hand holding a q tip to a cold sore.

At Dental Image Therapy Centres, we often encounter patients who are curious about various home remedies for dental issues, including the use of toothpaste on cold sores. Cold sores, those pesky, painful blisters around the lips, are a common nuisance that many seek to remedy with quick, at-home solutions. One such solution that has gained attention is the application of toothpaste to the affected area. But how effective is this method, and what should you know before trying it?

Understanding Cold Sores

Cold sores are small clusters of blisters caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1). Many tend to feel shameful about having a cold sore, but up to 89 per cent of Canadians having been exposed to HSV-1, making them incredibly common. Cold sores can spread from person to person through close contact, such as through kissing or sharing eating utensils. Tingling or itching around the lips are common early symptoms that indicate the blisters are about to appear. .

The Toothpaste Theory

Many toothpaste formulations contain sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), which is why you may think using toothpaste on cold sores is effective. It is believed that SLS inhibits HSV-1 activity, which may either stop the cold sore from appearing or shorten its duration. Some people think this strategy works well for cold sores; they recommend applying toothpaste as soon as you notice the sore starting to appear.

There is little evidence to support the use of toothpaste as a treatment for cold sores. While there are success stories, they don't add up to solid proof. Toothpaste additives like SLS may have antiviral properties, but they can also irritate skin or cause allergic reactions, which can make problems worse.

While exploring home remedies for cold sores,it's important to consider other, more reliable treatments. Some of which include:

• Apply SPF lip balm to guard against outbreaks triggered by sun exposure.

• Apply over the counter ointment such as docosanol (Abreva) to help speed up healing.

• Apply a cold compress to reduce irritation and crusting.

• Manage stress effectively to reduce the likelihood of cold sore flare-ups.

• Maintain overall health through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep to strengthen the immune system.

Ultimately, cold sores will typically go away on their own in about two to four weeks if you choose not to try any home remedies. Sometimes patience is the best treatment!

At Dental Image Therapy Centres, we advocate for professional consultation when dealing with recurrent cold sores or exploring treatment options. While toothpaste may offer temporary relief for some, it's not a substitute for medical advice or proven treatments.

If cold sores are a regular concern for you, discussing them with a healthcare professional can provide access to more effective and safer solutions. While we aren’t able to perform any dental treatments while you have a visible cold sore, we can share the best remedies to alleviate your symptoms. We can even provide painless laser treatment if the cold sore is caught in its earliest stages.

You can book a visit at either of our Winnipeg locations in St. Vital or Garden City.

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