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Can you Squeeze and Pop a Cold Sore?

Technically you can pop a cold sore, but it’s best to avoid touching cold sores as they go through their life cycle. It’s important to remember cold sores will heal on their own and touching, popping, or squeezing a cold sore, no matter how tempting it might feel will delay the process.

A woman thinking about popping a cold sore on their upper lip.

Do cold sores have pus?

Pimples contain pus, while cold sores contain clear fluid in blisters. Pimples are caused by bacteria, while cold sores are caused by a virus (HSV-1).

Does a cold sore heal faster if you pop it?

No, let cold sores run their course! Popping a cold sore disrupts the healing process likely prolonging the open sore and the opportunity to transfer the infection to other parts of your body or to other people.

What happens if you squeeze or pop a cold sore?

If you’re still thinking of popping a cold sore, it’s important to remember cold sores aren’t like pimples. When you pop a pimple you release sebum from a clogged pore in the skin. When you squeeze a cold sore you release infectious viral fluid through an open sore that can easily spread to other parts of the body. Through direct contact with the open sore, the fluid can spread to your fingers, eyes or genitals, causing a serious infection to develop.

Why shouldn’t you pop a cold sore?

Beyond prolonging the healing process and increasing your risk of spreading cold sores to other parts of the body or to other people, there are several other reasons not to pop a cold sore.

  • More Infection: When your fingertip comes into contact with an open cold sore, viruses, bacteria, and fungi can enter into the sore and potentially cause a painful infection. Having another infection will further slow down the healing process and only make the affected area more visible.
  • More Pain: The pain of a regular cold sore is nothing compared to the pain and discomfort from a popped cold sore. Popping a cold sore creates recurring pain of an open lesion on or around your lips.
  • Scarring: Cold sores don’t usually scar when left alone to heal, but squeezing a cold sore inflames the area, making it more prone to permanent scarring.

A woman using a cotton swab to apply Blister Balm® External Analgesic Ointment to their cold sore.

If you can’t catch a cold sore in the early stages, you might be able to significantly reduce the amount of time required for it to scab, heal and disappear. Therefore, instead of popping your cold sore, make sure you avoid touching or scratching it. If your cold sore is painful or uncomfortable, you can use Blister Balm® External Analgesic Ointment, an over-the-counter 100% naturally medicated cold sore treatment for pain and itching associated with cold sores.