Beauty Clinic: Help for cold sores


Q. Is there anything that will help heal cold sores and/or stop them developing?  Also can I put concealer on a cold sore?

A. Cold sores are caused by a virus, which brings about recurrent irritating and sometimes painful blisters on the lips.  The virus affects more than half the adult population, and millions of people will have at least one outbreak every year.  Once you have the virus, it often lingers in your body lifelong but is dormant until the telltale tingling or burning sensation is triggered by different causes. 

These triggers include stress so if you are prone to attacks, do look at ways you could reduce stress levels.  Another factor is letting your lips get dry and cracked so do keep them very well moisturized with a dedicated lip balm.

It’s most important that you do not kiss or touch babies when you have a cold sore as the virus is contagious and may cause a dangerous condition called neonatal herpes.  If you are pregnant and a cold sore develops, it’s important to see your GP.  For a list of useful Do’s and Don’t, visit, and Search for cold sores.

Experts recommend that you start antiviral treatment as soon as you feel the first tingle.  Ask your local pharmacist for advice. Options include Blistex Cold Sore Cream/£6.99 from Boots and other online and high street pharmacies, which has been proven to help block the cold sore virus in its early stages.

Pharmacist Shabir Daya suggests trying the herb lemon balm for its soothing and antimicrobial properties.  Try Handmade Herbs Lemon Balm Cream/£9 for 60 ml from  Shabir has written detailed articles on the prevention and treatment of cold sores, which you can find on the Victoria Health website.

Remember that when you are applying any product, you must wash your hands thoroughly before applying, and you must not touch the cold sore and then put your finger back in the container.  Best to use a new cotton bud each time.

Shabir Daya confirms that you can use concealer on top if you wish although it is best to leave the sore to scab over if possible. Cold sores are dry and flaky so you need to apply something emollient like Vaseline to moisturise the surface and give a smoother surface for makeup.

Lightly apply a green concealer and blend out the edges round the red sore; remember to use a clean cotton bud for this.  Then use another clean bud to apply thin layers of foundation or your usual (matte) concealer on and around the sore.  Finally, using a cotton wool ball, fluff on a fine loose powder to set it. 

MUA is a beauty steal range loved by makeup artists, which offers Pro Base Prime & Conceal Correcting Cream – Green/£2, a range of foundations for around £4 and Skin Define Matte Perfect Loose Powder/£3.

Lasting Perfection at Superdrug is another great value brand, which offers Lasting Perfection Concealer Correction Green for £4.19 (although some reviewers found it not so easy to blend), Lasting Perfection Foundation in 11 shades/£5.99 each, and Collection Loose Powder/£2.99.

Photo by Gabriel Matula on Unsplash