How to Reduce the Appearance of Cold Sores

by Melissa King ; Updated July 18, 2017

The right makeup can make cold sores seem invisible.

Hemera Technologies/ Images

Before a cold sore rears its ugly head, it announces its presence with a telltale tingling sensation. You know it's coming, but that doesn't make it easier to deal with. Once you've gotten one cold sore, you're always at risk for another outbreak. Keep the sore clean and treated with antiviral medication, and you'll be saying goodbye to the unwanted visitor sooner than you think. While you're waiting, you can also use makeup to keep the red, bumpy skin under wraps.

Cold Sores Not Welcome

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after touching a cold sore. If you don't wash, you can spread the virus to other parts of your body.

Apply an antiviral cold-sore ointment to the sore. It's best to apply the ointment when you feel the skin around or on your lips tingle start to tingle, which means that a sore may form soon. Continue using the ointment according to the package instructions until the cold sore disappears.

Cover the blister with a cold-sore patch. These patches conceal the sore while treating it with an infused medication. You can also apply makeup over the patch for better concealment.

Cold-Sore Camouflage

Clean the skin surrounding the cold sore using a mild cleanser. Dab the skin dry with a clean, dry cloth. Do not disturb the cold sore. Wash the cloth before reusing it.

Apply a pea-sized amount of cream concealer to the tip of a stippling brush. Tap the sore with the concealer -- using soft, circular motions -- until the sore is covered well.

Blend the concealer into the surrounding skin carefully with a makeup sponge. Do not apply strong pressure; doing so may rupture the blister.

Dust the covered sore with a small amount of pressed or loose powder.

Wash your hands and discard the disposable makeup sponges. Clean any non-disposable tools with hot water and soap.


  • Cold weather and sun exposure can both trigger a cold-sore outbreak. Protect yourself by applying a sunscreen before going outdoors, even in winter. Use a lip balm that contains sunscreen for better coverage.

    High stress levels are a major cause of cold sores. To help prevent an outbreak, take a moment to relax and breath deeply during busy or stressful times.

    If over-the-counter treatments don't work, ask your doctor for a prescription-strength topical cream.

    Resist scratching or picking at a cold sore. Doing so irritates the skin and makes the sore take longer to heal. It also increases the chance of scarring.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images

About the Author

Melissa King began writing in 2001. She spent three years writing for her local newspaper, "The Colt," writing editorials, news stories, product reviews and entertainment pieces. She is also the owner and operator of Howbert Freelance Writing. King holds an Associate of Arts in communications from Tarrant County College.