How Do I Treat a Cold Sore on the Tongue?

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  • Written By: Gregory Hanson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Treating a cold sore on the tongue mostly involves the use of various soothing compounds or pain relievers to provide symptomatic relief. A bland diet is often helpful in easing the pain caused by a cold sore on the tongue. Some patients who suffer from severe cold sores may wish to use either topical or systemic anti-viral medication to speed healing and to prevent future outbreaks.

The first step to take when treating a cold sore on the tongue is to verify that it actually is a cold sore. Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus. A majority of lesions on the tongue are not caused by herpes but are instead canker sores. These sores have no known cause, but will heal on their own in a week or so and cannot be passed on to others.

The herpes virus can infect the tongue, however, and a small percentage of lesions on the tongue are caused by herpes. This infection is common, easily spread, and often asymptomatic. The initial herpes infection typically produces a moderately painful blister which will usually heal over of its own accord after a week or two. The virus will then become dormant inside the body but will periodically reactivate and produce another blister.


Viruses cannot be completely cured by modern medicine. They can, however, be weakened. Several medicines are available that will reduce the duration and severity of a cold sore on the tongue. Additionally, some patients may benefit from a steady dosage of anti-viral medicine, which will limit or prevent the formation of a new cold sore on the tongue.

The pain caused by a cold sore on the tongue can be treated. Ordinary non-prescription analgesics are normally safe and effective for use in dulling the pain caused by a cold sore. Topical preparations may provide further relief.

A diet that avoids irritating foods may be of assistance in treating a cold sore on the tongue. As a general rule, any food or beverage that would irritate any open wound should probably be avoided by anyone suffering from a cold sore on the tongue. This will typically include alcoholic beverages, many spicy foods, and acidic foods and beverages, all if which can cause damage and irritation.

Typically, a cold sore of any sort should be left alone as much as possible, save for the application of medicine to treat the infection or dull the pain. Some social activities, including kissing, should certainly be avoided when an active cold sore is present. Not only will these activities be painful, they will run the risk of spreading the infection.


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Post 3

@discographer-- Ice cubes are a great idea! Thanks for the tip.

Something I do is gargle with warm salt water. It burns, but it helps the blister go away faster. Salt kills the virus and dries out the blister so that it does not fill with salt. It directly skips to the scabbing stage. Gargle with warm salt water two or three times a day every day until the blister disappears.

I've also heard of people using toothpaste on cold sores before. So I suppose brushing your teeth my help but the mint in the toothpaste may burn too.

Post 2

@discographer-- Are you sure that it's a cold sore? And if so, do you know which virus (herpes simplex type 1 or type 2) caused it? You might want to see a doctor about this because although cold sores on the lip are common, cold sore on the tongue is not.

The best way to treat a cold sore on the tongue is to use a prescription antiviral medication that your doctor can prescribe. Whenever I feel a cold sore coming on, I start taking my antiviral tablets and the blister either doesn't not develop or goes away quickly.

If you can't get a prescription anti-viral, you can use lysine which is an over the counter supplement. It is known for treating and preventing cold sores and blisters.

Post 1

When I get a cold sore on my lip, I treat it with a topical antiviral cream that I get from the pharmacy. It works well. But now I have a cold sore on the tongue and the topical creams can't obviously be used on the tongue. I've been chewing on ice cubes to relieve the pain but I'm not sure what else to do.

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