How Can I Get Rid of a Cold Sore Scab?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 21 November 2018
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When you get a cold sore scab, your first thought may be to get rid of it as quickly as possible. These scabs, however, are an important part of the healing process, and it is usually best to let them fall off on their own. Instead of working to get rid of the scab, you may be better served by working to hasten healing. For example, you can put effort into keeping the area around it clean and use an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment such as benzyl alcohol on the area. You can also coat the scab with petroleum jelly to keep it moist and prevent cracking.

The best way to get rid of a cold sore scab is to let it heal on its own. You might feel tempted to pick at a scab in the interest of making it go away faster, but in doing so, you may actually delay healing. The scab that forms over a cold sore is a natural part of the healing process, and if you leave it alone, it will eventually drop off on its own. If you pick at it or irritate it, however, you may not only slow healing, but also cause the area to become infected.


When you are trying to speed the healing process, take care when washing your face. Experts usually recommend washing the area around the cold sore but avoiding the scab itself. If some water touches the scab while you are washing, this is unlikely to present a problem, but it's best to avoid getting a lot of soap on it. After washing your face, you can pat the sore area dry if it has become damp and then avoid reusing the towel until it has been washed — this way, you can prevent the spread of the virus that causes cold sores.

Though it's not absolutely necessary to do so, you may also consider applying an over-the-counter ointment to the scab. Ointments that contain benzyl alcohol, for example, are sometimes recommended for this purpose. They won't get rid of the scab, but they may help make the area less uncomfortable and encourage faster healing. They may also help keep the scab moist, which can lessen discomfort as well.

Petroleum jelly also won't get rid of a cold sore scab, but it may help keep it moist. This is important, as scabs that become too dry may crack and bleed. When kept moist, the scab may heal much faster.


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Post 6

SarahGen is right-- I always let the blister form and then use a sterilized needle to remove the "goo" from inside. Then, apply tea tree oil for a day or two. Then start applying vaseline or neopsorin ointment to keep it soft. Eventually, the beige blister will just peel off naturally. Then, keep applying the Vaseline or Neosporin. The trick is getting the goo out and keeping it moist.

Post 5

You should just leave it be. If anything, put Abreva on it. Wash your hands! That is most important, and be careful when eating exceptionally hot/ spicy food. When another scab forms, don't pick it! It will get smaller and smaller as time passes. The longest you will have this cold sore/ fever blister is about one week.

Post 4

Does sea cucumber oil help moisten the cold sore scab?

Post 3

To get rid of mine, I kept applying petroleum jelly on it for several days. The scab softened and removed very easily.

I didn't pick at it, it came off on the third day while I was applying more petroleum jelly on it. If I tried to pull on it without softening it first, I'm sure it would have bled.

I also noticed that hot showers are very good for softening the scab and speeding up the healing process that forms fresh skin underneath.

Post 2

@feruze-- Oh, you shouldn't have done that. I never touch the scab that forms on a cold sore. Scabs are not a bad thing. Cold sore scabbing is the last stage in the healing process and our skin forms it to keep bacteria out of the wound while it heals. It will fall off on its own when the time comes.

I know it looks bad and you want to get rid of it, but it's better to let it be.

For the pain, use lip balms with topical analgesics (pain relievers) in them like menthol. You can also apply a piece of ice which will numb the pain. Keep it moisturized and don't touch it anymore.

Post 1

I picked off the scab on my cold sore that's healing. But now it hurts a lot, what should I do?

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