How to Get Rid of Cold Sore Scabs

Cold sores are painful lesions caused by the herpes virus that mainly occur on the lips and other mucous membranes. They disappear on their own after about a week without scarring; however, before they're gone completely they turn into crusty, unattractive scabs. The scabs appear in the scabbing stage, which lasts about two to three days. During this time, the cold sore scab may break open and bleed before scabbing again a second time. After about the third day, the scab will fall off on its own. Treatments will allow the scabs to heal more quickly and efficiently.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Press a cold compress over your lips to stop blood flow to the cold sore. This will also numb the area and soothe lingering pain.

How to Treat a Scab

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Wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap. Skin to skin contact with the cold sore can worsen the existing infection and transfer the virus to other parts of the skin. Make sure your hands are clean before coming in contact with the cold sore scab.

Use a topical cold sore cream like Abreva to hinder the virus, hasten the healing process and prevent outside contaminants from entering and prolonging the infection.

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Apply a layer of petroleum jelly, or another hydrating lip balm, to soften the scab. Massage it onto the scab in a circular motion. Keep the scab hydrated to prevent it from bursting and cracking open.

Apply a fresh layer of petroleum jelly onto the scab every two to three hours. This will moisten the scab and help it peel and fall off more quickly.


Choose a lip balm with sunscreen for protection against damaging UV rays.


Don't pick at the scab. Don't try to peel the scab off. Don't scrub the scab with any harsh chemicals or products. Avoid touching the area except to apply the protective creams.