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Topical zinc in the form of zinc oxide cream may help to reduce the severity and duration of a cold sore outbreak.
Effect of Zinc Oxide Cream on Cold Sores (Herpes Simplex Type 1)
When you take zinc in topical form, such as with a zinc oxide cream, you are not using zinc as a nutrient. Instead, certain forms of zinc release ions that are thought to directly inhibit viruses on the skin and mucous membranes.
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Research Evidence on Zinc Oxide Cream
A recent study suggests that topical zinc may be helpful for treating cold sore outbreaks. In this trial, 46 individuals with cold sores were treated with a zinc oxide cream or placebo every 2 hours until cold sores resolved.17 The results showed that individuals using the cream experienced a reduction in severity of symptoms and a shorter time to full recovery.
How to Use Zinc Oxide Cream
In the study cited here, cold sores were treated with a zinc oxide cream every 2 hours until the cold sores resolved.17
- Godfrey HR, Godfrey NJ, Godfrey JC, et al. A randomized clinical trial on the treatment of oral herpes with topical zinc oxide/glycine. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001;7:49-54, 56.
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