Zinc oxide/glycine cream for the treatment of cold sores

Initial studies have shown a topical cream of zinc oxide/glycine used to treat facial cold sores may be helpful.1 People in one small study who used the cream as soon as possible after a cold sore outbreak had a shorter duration of cold sore blisters—most blisters healed within 5 days instead of 6½ days.2

Some people using this cream experienced a few side effects, such as severe skin irritation and dryness.

Most cold sores heal on their own without prescription medications or complementary therapies.


  1. Godfrey HR (2001). A randomized clinical trial on the treatment of oral herpes with topical zinc oxide/glycine. Alternative Therapy Health Medicine, 7(3): 49–56.
  2. Worrall G (2006). Herpes labialis, search date April 2006. Online version of BMJ Clinical Evidence. Also available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

Last Updated: March 13, 2008

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