Vitamin C for treatment of cold sores

A few small studies have indicated that using vitamin C both orally (in tablet form) and as a topical cream (applied directly to the cold sore) may speed up the rate of healing of cold sores.1 The liquid form of vitamin C can be soaked in a cotton pad and applied to the cold sore several times a day, and it can be used along with vitamin C tablets (at least 600 mg). However, more research is needed before the long-term benefits of using vitamin C to treat cold sores can be confirmed. People with a history of kidney stones should avoid high doses of vitamin C.

Cold sores usually heal on their own without prescription medications or complementary therapies.


  1. Murray MT, Pizzorno JE Jr (2006). Herpes simplex. In JE Pizzorno Jr, MT Murray, eds., Textbook of Natural Medicine, 3rd ed., vol. 2, pp. 1723–1726. St. Louis: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

Last Updated: March 13, 2008

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