How well do herpes remedies really help? Gels, creams and patches at Stiftung Warentest

Cold sores
Photo: Christin Klose/dpa-tmn/dpa

“Not again”: That’s the first thought when your lip tingles and the annoying blisters appear. Herpes remedies promise quick healing. Stiftung Warentest is not convinced.

It takes one to two weeks for cold sores to heal on their own. This is a time when sufferers often feel like everyone is watching their mouth. How nice it would be to get rid of the blisters more quickly!

Over-the-counter creams and medical products such as plasters, patches or thermal pens promise exactly this shortcut. Some remedies even advertise a cure within 24 hours. But the Stiftung Warentest is not very convinced by the cold sore helpers (“test” issue 6/2024).

The testers took a closer look at 26 products. Specifically, this means: You have reviewed studies on effectiveness and risks in order to arrive at an assessment of whether the products are suitable for treating herpes.

Half a day to a day reduction is possible

The conclusion of the Stiftung Warentest: None of the 26 products can significantly shorten the healing time. Creams containing the active ingredients acyclovir or penciclovir can, at best, reduce it by half a day to one day. According to the studies, this is not possible any more than that. Even if you apply the creams when the symptoms first appear, as the manufacturers recommend.

According to Stiftung Warentest, the active ingredients do not penetrate deeply enough into the skin and therefore do not reach the nerve nodes from which the viral infection originates.

Patches protect against germs and bacteria

So can you completely save on herpes medication? It cannot be said absolutely, because, according to Stiftung Warentest, some products can definitely be beneficial.

For example, patches against herpes. These are special plasters that, when stuck on the blisters, can keep dirt and germs away. They also offer a way to conceal the blisters. The plasters can also be covered with lipstick or make-up.

And another benefit of the patches: They reduce the risk of passing on the contagious herpes viruses. However, you can avoid using tea tree oil as an additive – it can trigger allergic reactions, according to Stiftung Warentest.

Rules of conduct for herpes

Speaking of infection: To avoid passing on a herpes infection to those around you, those affected should pay attention to good hygiene. This means keeping your hands off the blisters. This can prevent them from becoming infected – or from carrying the virus further into your eyes. During the infection, those affected should also not share towels, glasses, drinking bottles or lipstick with others.

And another rule that is particularly difficult for new parents: If you have herpes, you shouldn’t kiss babies. According to the Professional Association of Paediatricians (BVKJ), an infection with herpes viruses in newborns can lead to meningitis, which can be life-threatening.

Read more on Techzle\.com:

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