Will Aftershave (or Perfume) Dry Up My Cold Sores Quicker?

  • Medically reviewed by Emina Ribic (MD) on October 1, 2018. Written by Linda White (MD).

Fragrance products (aftershave and perfume) can dry out cold sores relatively quickly due to the alcohol base. Although mixed with a host of chemicals (that are unhelpful), alcohol is beneficial when it comes to healing fever blisters faster.

While the prospect of drying out a cold sore has its drawbacks, removing a painful blister several days earlier will likely be achieved. The most significant roadblocks are the possibility of skin damage and fragrance sensitivities.

Even though treating your fever blister with the best over-the-counter cold sore remedies should always be the plan, alternative treatments are popular. The use of a fragrance product is likely to be safer than some of the cruder methods that sufferers use to aid healing.

We will look at fragrance products and how they can heal your sore quicker. You’ll also find out about the potential side effects. That’s one of the reasons that we recommend the Virulite Electronic Device. It’s proven to get rid of your cold sores much faster and approved by the FDA.

Will Perfume or Aftershave Heal Cold Sores Faster?

Both aftershave and perfume, even cologne for that matter, contain alcohol. While these liquids are packed with other ingredients, alcohol can be used to treat a fever blister.

In the same way as rubbing alcohol or salt (sodium chloride), aftershave and perfume can dry out your cold sore. Once a blister is devoid of moisture it slowly dries and begins to flake away.

Although the use of aftershave and perfume should never be your first line of defense, the treatment will likely work. If the primary goal is to heal your sore faster, this simple remedy can be beneficial.

To summarize:

  • Fragrance products primarily contain alcohol. This is why aftershave and perfume can heal a cold sore.
  • Alcohol, similar to a salt treatment, aids the drying out process. Once a blister has been quarantined and depleted of moisture it will gradually flake away.
  • While there is a host of issues that can arise from this treatment, the remedy will achieve dryness. If your objective is to get rid of a cold sore fast, aftershave and perfume will likely do the trick.

When To Apply Cologne or Aftershave To a Cold Sore?

The ideal time to apply cologne or aftershave to your lip is during the blister stage (before it bursts) and the ulcer stage begins. At the first sign of a visual blister cluster, you can apply cologne to the problematic region.

While you can conceivably apply cologne at any time, you run the risk of some serious complications during the noted ulcer stage. The pain alone would make you regret your decision within seconds.

To recap:

  • The best time to apply cologne is the first visual sign of a blister. This stage is the ideal time for treatment because it marks the safest time to dry the sore. Waiting until the ulcer or scab stage would be too late. It would also be excruciating.
  • While there is no guaranteed way to prevent a blister once the cycle begins, you can shorten the longevity. Treating your lip with cologne could dry your lip enough to end your suffering in a shorter time.

Does Drying Up Cold Sores Lead to Cracking?

While drying out a sore removes it faster, the dryness can lead to other issues. Cracking is a big problem.

When cold sore cracks, the pain can be quite intense. Additionally, the cracking can expose other body parts to the herpes simplex virus. This exposure can introduce outside elements which can make matters worse.

What Ingredients in Aftershave and Perfume Heal Cold Sores?

Many aftershave products contain an ingredient known as SD-alcohol 40. This base ingredient is an antiseptic.[1] This is the primary tool that allows aftershave to cool and calm your skin and prevent razor burn. Logically speaking SD-alcohol 40 is what could dull any pain and discomfort associated with a cold sore. This ingredient can also sterilize the area to some degree as well as dry out the blister.

While most fragrances are often loaded with chemicals, alcohol is the primary foundation. In fact, many colognes, perfumes, and aftershaves contain as many as 4,000 chemicals. It is possible to see a different formula make up in almost every brand of fragrance product.

By and large, the vast majority of fragrance products are safe. Unless you have pre-existing sinus or skin condition, for example, you should be fine. Not every scent is pleasant, but that alone is not an issue but rather a personal preference.

To recap:

  • Aftershave and various fragrance products are loaded with chemicals. Far too many to name on an individual basis. However, alcohol is often the foundation for many of these products. This is the kicker concerning what makes fragrances a useful treatment for cold sores.
  • Unless you suffer from skin sensitivities or sinus concerns, most fragrances are safe for generic use. This even applies to dabbing on the lips as a cold sore healer. While it is a wise to lean more towards natural products, you will never be able to escape a certain amount of chemicals.

Can Aftershave on lips Cause Side Effects?

With so many brands and so many formulas, it is virtually impossible to know what will cause you trouble. The only way to know is to test a product. The aftershave base of SD-alcohol 40 will likely be your safest option.[2] However, even that foundation base is problematic for some.

While searching for a harmful ingredient is like locating a needle in a haystack, the issue of perfume sensitivity is a more common issue. This is where the scent of a cologne or perfume trumps any specific ingredient.

Have you ever been in a crowded room for a gathering and found yourself almost knocked over by various scents? The cologne and perfume “competition” can send you reeling. Although episodes like these impact people in different ways, a sensitivity issue could be to blame.

You might be best inclined to search for the “dull” in the bunch. Meaning, find the product with a more natural or even non-existent scent. Similar to what you see in air fresheners, some products are designed to keep you from smelling bad rather than smelling like a wildflower.

Does applying a cologne to cold sores dry them up faster?

If you are sensitive to harsh chemicals, applying an aftershave/cologne/perfume with limited bite could be the ticket.

To summarize:

  • Aftershave and fragrances can lead to side effects, but the results are subjective. With so many individual chemicals and thousands of formula makeups, there is no way to speak boldly about specific brands, ingredients, etc. The aftershave ingredient of SD-alcohol 40, the base that soothes cuts and abrasions, will likely be your safest course of action. However, even that mention comes with a dose of subjectivity.
  • If you have a known issue with certain chemicals, check labels before purchase. Spotting a problematic chemical in advance can save you a lot of grief. It is not uncommon for colognes and perfumes to “hide” their ingredients and not list the full display on the bottle.
  • If you do suffer from a perfume sensitivity, it is best to find a dull fragrance. Having a fragrance on your lip is much closer than any other perfume application area. Be mindful of your tolerance levels for specific smells before using an exotic scent on your blister.
  • As a warning, remove your fragrance of choice (wash it off) if you begin to sneeze and have watery eyes. There is an outside chance that you could touch your lip and then rub your eyes. This can result in a viral transfer to the eyes which is a severe medical issue.[3] If you have any concerns over specific scents, it is best to find a less potent product.

How Can I Recover From an Outbreak Quickly?

The quickest and safest way to recover from an outbreak is with quality OTC treatments. While aftershaves and various fragrances can dry out the sore, the chemicals can introduce issues. This is likely if you have allergies and skin sensitivities where the cons could outweigh the pros.

Cold sore healing recommendations:

While a cold sore, without disruption, will likely heal itself within two weeks, proven treatment options work much faster. It is possible to heal your sore within 3-4 days thanks to an OTC choices.

Although fast cold sore healing is always the objective, safety is more important. Are alternative treatments worth the potential complications? This is a critical question to ask yourself when deciding whether to reach for the Old Spice rather than Abreva.

Whatever you are applying to your lip you will be subjected to smelling. Although that is likely stating the obvious, it could be easy to forget before application. If you are unable to handle certain fragrances, you should skip them as a treatment plan.

All you are after is the alcohol. If you can find aftershave, cologne, or perfume with a limited scent, you will likely have a better experience. Save the wild orchid spice for the party. Apply the “plain Jane” for your cold sore needs.

References

  1. Iwasawa A, Niwano Y, Kohno M, Ayaki M (2012) Virucidal Activity of Alcohol-Based Hnd Rub Disinfectants. Biocontrol Sci 17: 45–49
  2. Andersen FA. Final report of the safety assessment of Alcohol Denat., including SD Alcohol 3-A, SD Alcohol 30, SD Alcohol 39, SD Alcohol 39-B, SD Alcohol 39-C, SD Alcohol 40, SD Alcohol 40-B, and SD Alcohol 40-C, and the denaturants, quassin, Brucine Sulfate/Brucine, and Denatonium Benzoate. Int J Toxicol. 2008;27 Suppl 1:1–43.
  3. Azher TN, Yin X-T, Tajfirouz D, Huang AJ, Stuart PM. Herpes simplex keratitis: challenges in diagnosis and clinical management. Clinical Ophthalmology (Auckland, NZ). 2017;11:185-191. doi:10.2147/OPTH.S80475.

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