6 Remedies to Combat Cold Sores in Children

Cold sores in children don't usually cause serious complications. In fact, some natural remedies can help relieve symptoms and speed up your recovery.
6 Remedies to Combat Cold Sores in Children
José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli

Reviewed and approved by the doctor José Gerardo Rosciano Paganelli.

Last update: 30 May, 2022

Cold sores in children are small ulcers or sores around the mouth. Although it’s a very common infection because it’s so contagious, parents often worry, especially when it’s not comfortable.

The cause is the herpes simplex virus type 1,which transmits from saliva, skin-to-skin contact or touching a contaminated object. Sometimes, it’s caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2, but that usually affects the genital area.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for the virus. It’s always in your body, even if there are no symptoms. Therefore, an outbreak can happen due to stress, low defenses or other diseases.

How can you recognize cold sores in children? What can you do to treat it?

To solve these questions, it’s important to know the main symptoms and remedies that help treat it.

Symptoms of Herpes in Children

Child with cold sores on his mouth.

Cold sores in children usually last between 10 and 14 days. That’s how long it takes for them to mature, break and crust. After this last stage, the particles of the dead cells go away without leaving marks or scars.

Symptoms to recognize this infection include:

  • Redness of the affected area
  • Irritation and itching
  • Ulcers or blisters filled with fluid
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Dry skin and scabs (in its final stages)
  • Moderate fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat

Remedies to Treat Cold Sores in Children

Cold sores usually aren’t cause for an emergency. However, sometimes you may need a doctor to get a prescription for an antiviral drug.

In general, certain home remedies can help your child recover. Take note!

1. Ice Cubes

Ice cubes help reduce the temperature of cold sores.

Skin that gets cold sores increases in temperature and makes it uncomfortable because it burns and itches. Therefore, to minimize discomfort while dealing with the infection, you can use ice cubes.

What You Should Do

  • Wrap several ice cubes in a cotton cloth. Then, apply them to the outline of your child’s lips.
  • Let it work for at least 10 minutes.
  • If necessary, repeat this process several times per day.

2. St. John’s Wort

St. John’s wort has antiviral properties that help with cold sores in children. Therefore, it reduces the risk of infection. In addition, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it helps get rid of blisters.

What You Should Do

  • Dip a piece of cotton in an infusion of St. John’s wort and apply it to the affected area.
  • Leave it on for 5 minutes. Then, repeat the process two to three times per day.

3. Cabbage Leaves

Poultices with cabbage leaves are refreshing when cold sores cause itching or burning. Due to their properties, they also protect injured skin and speed up the healing process.

What You Should Do

  • Crush several cabbage leaves and apply them to the affected area.
  • Next, let it sit for five minutes, then rinse.
  • Then, repeat the process twice per day.

4. Milk

Milk can help relieve itching and burning in cold sores.

A little bit of fresh milk can lesson the discomfort that kids feel from cold sores. Its nutrients help tissues regrow, thus decreasing ulcersAdditionally, they prevent itching and burning.

What You Should Do

  • Dip a piece of cotton in fresh milk.
  • Next, apply it as a compress on the affected part of the skin.
  • Then, apply some pressure and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Finally, rinse with cold water.
  • Repeat this process three times per day.

5. Clay

The medicinal properties of clay can be a great treatment for cold sores in children. Since it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and is very soothing, it’s great to eliminate ulcers. Also, it reduces the burning feeling that the infection causes.

What You Should Do

  • Moisten a little white or green clay with warm water.
  • Then, after making a thick paste, apply it to the affected area.
  • Let it sit until it feels better.
  • Finally, rinse it off with plenty of water.
  • Repeat the process if you think it’s necessary.

3. Marigolds

Rinsing your skin with marigold tea helps protect your skin. Therefore, it helps get rid of cold sores. Thanks to their antiviral and anti-inflammatory abilities, marigolds are great to control this infectious disease.

What You Should Do

  • Rinse your child’s skin with marigold tea.
  • Repeat this process twice per day.

If the cold sores get worse or don’t improve, consult your pediatrician as soon as possible. It’s also important to see the doctor if your child has a persistent fever, cries intensely, or starts to get sick.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Opstelten W, Neven AK, Eekhof J. Treatment and prevention of herpes labialis. Canadian Family Physician. 2008.
  • Fritz D, Venturi CR, Cargnin S, Schripsema J, Roehe PM, Montanha JA, et al. Herpes virus inhibitory substances from Hypericum connatum Lam., a plant used in southern Brazil to treat oral lesions. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;
  • Lee Y, Kim S, Yang B, Lim C, Kim J-H, Kim H, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of Brassica oleracea Var. capitata L. (Cabbage) methanol extract in mice with contact dermatitis. Pharmacogn Mag. 2018;
  • MASUZAWA M, MASUZAWA M, ARAKAWA N, HAMADA Y, TAMAUCHI H, MORITA M, et al. Immune Milk Suppresses Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2016;
  • Jassim SAA, Naji MA. Novel antiviral agents: A medicinal plant perspective. Journal of Applied Microbiology. 2003.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.