Do you feel the tingle of a cold sore coming on? Here are a few remedies you probably have in your kitchen right now…

Whole milk to the rescue: Soak a cotton ball in cold milk, and hold it on top of the blister for 10 minutes. Repeat as needed for three or four days. This approach can keep ripening blisters from emerging. If you use milk on an existing cold sore, it should be gone or nearly so after four days. (Unattended cold sores can last up to two weeks.) Why whole milk helps: Whole milk contains a protein called lactoferrin that helps to fight against the herpes simplex virus. Whole milk also includes conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid that has antiviral properties that speed the healing process. (Reduced-fat milk will not be as effective—it also contains lactoferrin but has only tiny amounts of milk’s fatty acids.) Bonus: In addition to its therapeutic compounds, the chill of the milk helps ease the tingling as soon as you apply it. (Applying ice to the cold sore can be soothing, too.)

Cocktail cure: Dab a cold sore with a swab that’s been dipped in a little vodka—the alcohol will help dry it out. Be warned that the alcohol will also sting.

Vampire repellent: Cut a clove of garlic in half, and rub it on the sore. Not the most pleasant scent, but effective.

Sweet and sour remedy: Combine one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with one tablespoon of honey (preferably raw, local honey), and dab the sore with the mixture three times a day.

Nutty-butter salve: Grind up a few walnuts and mix them with one teaspoon of cocoa butter. Apply this “nutty-butter” salve to the sore twice a day. The sore should be gone in three or four days.

Healing spice tea: Sip a cup of tea spiked with one-half teaspoon of turmeric throughout the day. Turmeric contains curcumin, which has natural antiviral properties—more helpful healing from the inside out for the troublesome sore!

Thanks to Andrew Rubman, ND, founder and medical director, Southbury Clinic for Traditional Medicines, Southbury, Connecticut (, for help with these tips.