Cold sores develop on the face, most commonly on the outside of the mouth. They are caused by the virus Herpes Simplex and can be triggered by anything from infections to stress or even sunlight. They appear as itchy, tingling blisters. The area starts to weep and blister and is very painful. The blisters then crust over within a day or two. Most outbreaks last about 7-14 days. Once contracted, cold sores tend to be a recurrent condition.

Aciclovir: Is the only antiviral product available over the counter and is the main go-to treatment for cold sores. It is available as a cream and may cause transient stinging after application to the cold sore. However this is only experienced in a minority of patients. It works best when applied at the tingly stage since it can actually stop the cold sore from forming. It should be applied sparingly five times a day.

Ammonia: is not an antiviral but may help to dry up lesions and prevent secondary infections. It can be used by all ages.

Urea: is of little use against the cold sore virus but is helpful in soothing and healing damaged lips.

Cetrimide and Chlorocresol are mild disinfectants that help control infection. Urea is a moisturiser that works by penetrating the surface of the lips, where it attracts and retains water. Urea also breaks down keratin in the skin cells, helping them to shed, which softens and improves the appearance of dry, cracked lips. Dimethicone acts as a water repellent to help protect the lips.
Visit your pharmacist or doctor:
  • If the cold sore is present longer than 14 days
  • If symptoms appear inside the mouth or if they have spread around the face, especially near the eyes
  • Patients who have a fever and feel unwell
Helpful Tips from Mulligans Pharmacy:
  • At Mulligans Pharmacy, we understand that our customers may need treatment for symptoms of a personal or sensitive nature. Our pharmacists are always available for a discreet chat in our private consultation room at your request, or you can ask a Mulligans Pharmacist a question in confidence here.
  • Cold sores are highly contagious and can be transmitted from one person to another (by kissing, sharing eating utensils, drinking from the same glass etc.)
  • Avoid kissing babies, anyone with an immune deficiency disorder e.g. HIV or patients on chemotherapy medication.
  • Patients should wash their hands after they have applied the cream and use separate towels and face cloths to everyone else.
  • Lip sticks and lip glosses should be avoided during a cold sore outbreak
  • Lysine is an amino acid that is excellent in helping the body's immune system fight against the cold sore virus. It can be taken as a supplement during periods of stress or before a sun holiday.
  • Vitamin B deficiency is a possible trigger for cold sores. Patients deficient in Vitamin B can take a supplement.
Shop Cold Sores Treatments >
Ask a Mulligans Pharmacist a question now >
The information provided is intended solely as a guide. Please seek the advice of your pharmacist to determine whether a particular service, medication, or treatment programme will be of value to you. Always check the dosage directions carefully on all medicines. Never combine medicines without consulting your doctor or pharmacist. All health facts and information contained herein should not be a substitute for medical advice. The use of this site is subject to our Terms & Conditions.
Registered Office
Mulligans Pharmacy, Head Office, Otteran Place, South Parade, Waterford | Tel: 051 844060
© Mulligans 2019
Mulligans Pharmacy is a trading name of Mulligans Chemist Ltd.
Registered in Ireland
Company number 48767 | Registered VAT number 9P95466L
Please be aware that we retain a record of each transaction for a period of two years.
PSI Contact details:
PSI House, Fenian Street, Dublin 2.
Phone: +353 1 2184000
Fax: +353 1 2837678
Email: [email protected]