Cold Sores

    Cold Sores information

    Cold Sores information

    What are they?

    Cold sores are small infectious blisters that develop on your lips or around your mouth. Between 56-85% of people carry the virus which causes cold sores by the time they are an adult. 

    The first infection usually happens as a young baby or in childhood, though there may not be any symptoms. In 20-40% of young adults who have the virus, the cold sore can come back. Recurrence can occur between two and six times a year. 

    Main Causes

    Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex or ‘cold sore’ virus. They are extremely infectious and you can easily pass them from person to person by close direct contact (for example by kissing). You are most likely to pass on the virus when the cold sore bursts, but they are still infectious until they have completely healed and disappeared.

    After you have caught the virus, it doesn’t become active until it is triggered by something, and then one or more cold sores develop. Triggers are different for different people. Common triggers are stress, tiredness, an injury to the affected area, strong sunlight, and in women, monthly periods.

    Some people have cold sores that come back a few times a year, while others have one cold sore and never have another. Some people have the virus in their body, but don’t know they have it until they get a cold sore. 


    Once the virus has been triggered, you may feel a tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth. Small fluid-filled sores will then appear, most commonly on the edges of your lip. Cold sores are usually quite mild, but can cause complications if drinking fluids becomes painful, as you can become dehydrated.

    In young children, the symptoms may be a little different, with ulcers on the tongue, lips, gums and other places in the mouth. They may also have pain, be unable to swallow, drool and become dehydrated, as well as have a fever, general tiredness, loss of appetite and irritability. This is known as gingivostomatitis. If you suspect your child has this condition, you should seek medical advice.

    Treatment Options

    You can leave a cold sore to clear up by itself, which it should do within 10 days. To help ease your symptoms and speed up the healing time, however, you can buy treatment creams from your local pharmacy. It’s best to apply the cream as soon as you feel the tingling, itching or burning sensation around your mouth.

    Make sure you avoid close contact with people more likely to pick up infections, for example:

    • Newborn babies (never kiss a newborn baby if you have a cold sore).

    Bonjela Cold Sore Cream is an effective way to treat & help prevent cold sores. It turns invisible when applied.

    To treat a cold sore: use bonjela cold sore cream at least 4 times per day until the cold sore completely disappears, typically within 4-5 days.

    Suitable for use for adults, children aged 4 years and older and diabetics. Always read the instructions.

    Top Tips

    1. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
    2. Avoid acidic or salty foods and eat cool, soft foods.
    3. If brushing your teeth is painful, use antiseptic mouthwash.
    4. Dab cream onto cold sores rather than rubbing it in.
    5. Wash your hands using liquid soap and clean water before and after applying a cold sore cream.
    6. Avoid touching your cold sores other than to apply cream, and don't share your cold sore cream with others.
    7. Don't share medication or items such as lipstick that come into contact with the affected area.
    8. You don't need to stay away from work or miss school, but avoid your cold sore coming into direct contact with other people.
    9. Stay away from people who are more likely to pick up infections.


    Healthy mouth tips

    Find out with mouth care experts Bonjela, how to maintain the health of your mouth and gums.

    Oral Health Advice

    Find general advice on how to care for your mouth, helping to ensure it stays healthy and happy.

    Cold Sores

    Learn more about the causes of cold sores and find soothing relief from the pain and discomfort they create, from bonjela.


    Bonjela Cold Sore Cream effectively treats cold sores and contains UV-Active which creates a protective film layer on the skin cells of the cold sore and prevents attachment of virus particles to the cells. It also​ protects the skin against harmful environmental triggers of the herpes simplex virus such as UV radiation.

    • Starts to work immediately
    • Aids healing and moisturises
    • Helps relieve itching, tingling & burning
    • Suitable for use for adults, children aged 4 years and older.
    • Bonjela Cold Sore Cream is a medical device. Always read the instructions.



    Wash your hands before and after each application.

    Squeeze the bottom of the tube to push the cream out onto one fingertip.

    Gently apply a thin layer of cream on the cold sore.

    Repeat at least 4 times per day as needed until the cold sore completely disappears within 4-5 days.