According to How Stuff Works, it is important never to pop a cold sore, as this causes the fluid inside to be expelled, spreading the germs causing the cold sore. Allowing a cold sore to heal on its own or with the assistance of an over-the-counter cold sore treatment is the best way to get rid of a cold sore. If left untreated, most cold sores heal on their own in 10 days.
Picking at a cold sore should be discouraged to prevent further complications, including spreading the infection to the eyes or genitals, according to How Stuff Works. To manage the pain and discomfort associated with cold sores, use a topical ointment that contains benzyl alcohol, benzocaine, lidocaine, tetracaine or dibucaine. In many cases, if topical ointments are applied at the first indication of an outbreak, they are able to prevent the cold sore from forming or shorten the duration of a cold sore. In the case of recurrent cold sores, prescription oral antivirals are able to provide some relief and prevent outbreaks. Because the herpes virus is always present in the body once infected, keeping the immune system strong is important to stave off subsequent outbreaks. Maintaining good nutrition, getting adequate sleep, taking multivitamins and getting a flu shot are all ways to prevent outbreaks.