10 Home Remedies for Herpes

Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Though the sexually transmitted infection may first spring to mind, it is caused by the type-2 version of the virus. The type-1 version causes cold sores, also known as fever blisters. Though neither type of HSV is curable, both are highly manageable with prescription medication and home remedies.


Ice can help ease or reduce the severity of herpes or cold sores because it reduces inflammation and pain and the cold slows the proliferation of the virus. Never place ice directly on the skin as this can cause burns. Instead, wrap a cold pack or some ice in a cloth and hold it against the affected area for about ten minutes. Do not use this home remedy more than once every few hours.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is another powerful home remedy that can help control a herpes outbreak on the face. The acidic liquid is a popular option for naturally improving the strength of the immune system because it is full of healthful nutrients and vitamins. Its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties also help fight herpes and get symptoms under control. Dip a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply it to the affected areas up to three times a day. Allow it to sit for five minutes, then rinse with warm water and apply a protective cream.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a potent home remedy that works best when used topically. The solution is known for its disinfectant, and germ-killing properties, thanks to a high concentration of oxygen. Use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution and dilute it with water to ensure it does not irritate the skin. If the solution is too strong, it can cause burns and worsen the sores. Dab the liquid on the affected area and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Rinse and repeat a few times a day until symptoms improve.


Garlic is a useful home remedy for herpes and cold sores because of its high concentration of anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which work together to fight infection. Both raw garlic and supplements can treat the symptoms of a herpes flare-up. Applying a garlic paste to the affected area can help but keep in mind that garlic is quite potent and could irritate this tender skin.


Lemon is another food highly effective in treating certain skin conditions. The citrus fruit has plenty of antiviral properties that help to fight skin infections and some people even find it relieves pain. Drinking a glass of water with lemon juice can improve long-term health and might help reduce herpes outbreaks, but applying diluted juice to the cold sores may also speed healing.

Licorice Root

Consuming natural licorice has many benefits but the root can also serve as a topical remedy for herpes. It provides the body with important nutrients it requires to fight disease and infection. Licorice root contains is glycyrrhizin, which reduces inflammation, and flavonoids that can counteract the growth of HSV. Drink licorice root tea or apply a paste directly to the sores.

Wild-Caught Fish

Wild-caught fish such as salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy oils that help to protect the skin and treat herpes. These chemicals work together to promote healing and reduce inflammation. If purchasing or consuming wild-caught fish is not possible, omega-3 supplements are a viable and widely available alternative.

Lean Meats

Everyone knows a healthy, balanced diet that provides the body with necessary nutrients is essential to waylaying illness and the herpes virus is no exception. An appropriate amount of lean protein can help the body heal faster and some research suggests it can even help fend off herpes more effectively. Try adding more chicken, fish, beans, and lentils to your diet, aiming for about four ounces per meal.


One of the most scientifically proven home remedies for the treatment of herpes is zinc, an important element in rebuilding the skin. The mineral also protects the body from harmful viruses. People with the herpes virus can take zinc orally in pill form or apply it topically as a gel. Considerable research shows that zinc can prolong the remission period of the virus, preventing outbreaks. Eating more foods rich in zinc can enhance this effect; red meat, shellfish, legumes, and some seeds and nuts are high in this trace element.

Avoid Added Sugars

In addition to consuming healthy foods such as garlic and lemon, people prone to cold sores should limit or avoid consumption of certain foods, such as processed sugar. As delicious as it is, sugar can raise inflammation and weaken the immune system, exacerbating skin conditions. Replacing these sugars with healthier alternatives such as fruit-based sweeteners may positively impact cold sore breakouts.