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Although it may take a while to get rid of a cold sore, some medicines can shorten the healing time and make the symptoms less painful. Cold sore treatments include:

  • Over-the-counter medications: You can buy without a prescription creams or ointments that you apply directly to the cold sore. If you start using these creams when you first notice tingling or itching — before the cold sore forms — you may be able to prevent the cold sore from appearing.
  • Oral antiviral medicine: Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication that you take orally (by mouth).
  • Intravenous (IV) antiviral medicine: If other medications aren’t working, your doctor may need to prescribe an antiviral medication that will be administered through an IV. In this case, your doctor will monitor you closely throughout treatment.

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