Cold sores are painful and embarrassing. There is no way to hide a big blister on your lip, and the formation of a scab makes it look even worse. It's hard to resist the temptation to pick at that scab and remove it. Unfortunately, picking at the scab will make it much worse, will create more of a scab and will delay healing. But you can speed the healing, soften the scab and encourage it to drop off.
Know the purpose of the scab. As unsightly as it is, the scab over the cold sore is a sign that it's healing. The cold sore heals from the inside out and needs the scab to protect and speed the healing process.
Don't touch the scab unless you are gently washing it or applying treatment. Scabs itch, and it can be a challenge not to touch them. If you idly touch the scab and then touch another part of your body, you can spread the herpes simplex virus.
Keep the area clean. Avoid washing the scab while you wash your face. After you wash the rest of your face, clean your hands with regular or antibacterial soap. Carefully use soap around the sore and rinse. Gently dab the cold sore with a clean towel, and do not use the towel again until it is washed. Thoroughly wash your hands again with soap.
Use an over-the-counter ointment. The Mayo Clinic recommends topical ointments such as lidocaine or benzyl alcohol to give some relief. Children's Mercy Hospital recommends docosanol, Abreva. These help speed the healing, ease discomfort and moisten the scab.
Apply petroleum jelly. This will help soften the scab and keep it from cracking and bleeding. This, in turn, will speed the healing underneath the scab, so it will fall off faster.
Numb the area. According to the University of California San Diego, the use of ice and ointments such as Orajel or Anbesol numb the area and give relief from itching. This helps you resist the urge to scratch and disturb the healing scab.