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Red Light Therapy for Cold Sores, According to Experts

This article examines the effectiveness of red-light therapy in the treatment of cold sores. It also highlights how high-performance phototherapy devices designed to treat cold sores can help manage mouth and lip sores.

RedlightTherapyDigest StaffBy RLTD Staff Updated November 30, 2023
Medically reviewedMedically reviewed by: Dr. Konstantin
Advertising Disclosure: Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; we may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. You can learn more about our review process here.


Cold sores better known as oral herpes lesions, fever blisters, or herpes simplex virus often start with a tingling and itchy sensation and then proceed to a blister filled with liquid, making your life miserable for a couple of days afterward. While these cold sores often pop and heal on their own, they may be frustrating making people feel self-conscious because they may ruin photos, meetings, or intimate moments with your partner. There is no permanent cure for cold sores. However, there are ways and therapies, including red light therapy, which may help reduce the duration of healing.

Laser therapy is an effective, inexpensive, simple, and comfortable way to enhance healing of the cold sores and prevent the formation of new sores. Many people are not aware of this and they tend to leave the cold sore to take its course and heal on its own. Using light-emitting diodes is a safe and non–invasive way to eliminate cold sores immediately after they show signs of popping up.

While there are many red-light therapy devices, only specific ones will work for cold sores. Using a red light therapy wand, with wavelengths of 630nm to 850 nm may be ideal in the treatment of cold sores. The best red light therapy on cold sores may help reduce inflammation, enhance wound healing, and repair damaged tissues. In this article, we have provided the important information you may need on the treatment of cold sores using red light therapy devices.

red light therapy for herpesRed Light Therapy for Herpes

Can Red Light Therapy Help with Cold Sores?

As our content, The Ultimate Guide to Red-Light Therapy details, light therapy, as a drug-free, painless, non-invasive, and effective treatment technology, has gained popularity over the years.

Red light therapy uses wavelengths of 630nm to penetrate the skin to treat various conditions, including pain and inflammation, arthritic pain, muscle soreness, acne, hyperpigmentation, and cold sores. Some red light therapy devices combine the power of red and infrared light to deliver faster results.

Clinical Trials support that light therapy wands may use red light of wavelength 630nm and infrared light of wavelength 850nm to effectively relieve pain and inflammation and promote repair of damaged tissue. These two wavelengths have therapeutic effects on different layers of the skin, as red light works on the top layer, while infrared light deeply penetrates the skin. Using red light therapy wands is an effective and convenient way to deal with ulcers and cold sores inside the mouth. Red light therapy is a non-invasive and drug-free method that works to reduce healing time and prevent the pop-up of cold sore every time. All you have to do is hold the device over your mouth for three minutes every day.

According to research done by Andreia La Selva MD, Renata Matalon PhD, et al and published in the Medicine Journal, cold sores are a painful and self-limiting disease that causes social restraint and discomfort. The study further supports that the use of photodynamic laser therapy is a therapeutic option in the treatment and management of cold sores. Light therapy has many advantages, including shortening the healing duration of the lesion.

An article by Diana Schoutsen in the Rouge Journal agrees that red light therapy for herpes treatment is effective such as cold sores. red light therapy treatment combines red and infrared light to help speed up wound healing, reduce pain and inflammation, and reduce viral shedding. The study further reveals that red light therapy may help reduce the severity of herpes symptoms.


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*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work for Cold Sores?

Red light therapy is a non-invasive, promising, and effective treatment for chronic problems that keep on recurring, such as oral herpes as it, helps reduce the severity of the symptoms and address the factors that cause the condition. Research supports that red light therapy is therapeutic for a variety of medical conditions as it can manage, prevent, and reduce the duration of the disease outbreak. However, it is important to know that treatment will not cure the disease, but only shorten the duration of the outbreaks and reduce the intensity of the symptoms.

Using red light therapy for cold sores at home works to reduce pain and inflammation caused by cold sores, enhance wound healing, and prevent future breakouts. The red light therapy device uses light-emitting diodes to work on the tissues and target the virus causing the cold sore to appear. Light therapy breaks down the proteins of the virus to prevent the cold sore from progressing any further. If the cold sore has progressed and is filled with fluid, the red-light therapy device works to reduce pain and inflammation and lessen the duration and severity of the sore. For cold sores red light therapy works best when combined with other medications such as prescription drugs.

According to a publication by Robert Brennan in the WebMD on oral care, cold sores are painful blisters that appear around the mouth area, which often go away on their own. The study agrees that there are several treatments for cold sores, including over-the-counter medications. However, low-level laser therapy is a new and effective technology used in the treatment and management of cold sores. Using light therapy for three minutes twice or thrice every day may enhance faster healing.

One treatment session of about 3 to 4 minutes every day should be enough to address a cold sore and prevent recurring. According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, herpes simplex virus is a common recurrent disease and it may be effectively addressed using low-level laser treatment.

does red light therapy help cold soresDoes Red Light Therapy Help Cold Sores

What Do Scientific Studies Say About Red-Light Therapy And Cold Sores?

  • In a pilot study to determine the effectiveness of laser therapy on herpes zoster, 28 Korean patients with acute herpes zoster were selected and used. The patients received light therapy treatment of 850nm. The results showed that LED treatment helped enhance wound healing and reduce pain.
  • A publication in the Photomedicine and Laser Surgery journal concluded that treatment of herpes labialis with photodynamic therapy helped reduce wound healing time and reduce the frequency of recurrence. The study further claims that laser therapy provided comfort for the patients without any side effects.
  • According to research done by Dennis Carvalho, Helena Lucia, et al and published in the Revista da Sociedad Brasileira de Medicina Tropical journal, using laser therapy has been shown to deliver long-term results in the treatment of recurrent herpes simplex infections.

What Side Effects Should You Expect?

If used as directed by the manufacturer or your doctor, red light therapy should not deliver any side effects. Red light therapy treatment is non-invasive, painless, and not as harsh as other treatment methods. Red light therapy is safe and does not use ultraviolet light, which causes skin cancer.

However, if you do not use the red light therapy devices as directed, there may be some side effects. Red light therapy may cause damage to the eyes if you do not wear eye protective wear when using the devices.

stages of cold soresStages of Cold Sores

Is It Worth It

Yes, using red light therapy for cold sores is a worthy form of treatment. While cold sores often go away on their own, they may take time to go away. Using red light therapy devices may help lessen the duration of the cold sore, reduce pain and inflammation, and prevent the recurrence of other cold sores. According to most red light therapy cold sores reviews, red light cold sores devices deliver painless and effective results.


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*All individuals are unique. Your results can and will vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How Should I Use My Red-Light Device to Treat Cold Sores?

A: The directions on how to use red light therapy for cold sores are often indicated in the product manual. When treating cold sores, most manufacturers recommend one to two minutes twice or thrice every day for faster results. Do not exceed the recommended time.

Q: Can I Treat Cold Sores if I Have Makeup On?

A: There is no evidence to support whether makeup may alter the effectiveness of a red light therapy device. However, we recommend using the device without any makeup on.

Q: Can I Use Red Light Therapy to Prevent Cold Sores?

A: Yes, red light therapy devices may be used to prevent future cold sore outbreaks. If you have outbreaks regularly, you can use a red light therapy device to treat the mouth area and prevent outbreaks.

Q: What Specs Should I Consider in a Cold Sore Red-Light Device?

A: To select a red light therapy device for cold sore, it is advisable that you consider the wavelength and power output of the device. Research studies support that red light therapy devices of wavelengths 660nm and power output of 75Mw/cm2 deliver effective results.

Q: Should I Expect Immediate Results When Treating Cold Sores with Red-Light Device?

A: Before using a red light therapy device to treat your cold sore, it is important to note that individual results may vary. Clinical studies support that cumulative use of a red light therapy device may show effective results after 6 months of use. Some people may experience results earlier than others.

Q: Is Red-Light Therapy for Cold Sores Effective After a Cold Sore Is Fully There?

A: Yes, you may use a red light therapy device even after a cold sore has fully formed. The device with help relieve pain and inflammation in the affected area and enhance recovery time. However, it is advisable to use the device once you start having a tingly feeling.


Oral herpes is a common cold sore, but it can be embarrassing and really painful. While there are many therapies and medications available on the market today to help reduce the duration of the sores, the question is; is red light therapy good for cold sores?

Red light therapy devices are readily available on the market to help enhance wound healing, reduce pains and inflammation, and prevent future breakouts.

Low-level light therapy uses red and near-infrared light wavelengths to work on the soft tissues to target the virus, which causes cold sores to appear.

If your cold sore has already popped up and is filled with fluid, then light therapy helps enhance wound healing so that the sore will not last long. The wavelengths of red and near-infrared light may calm inflamed nerve endings to provide relief from pain and provide a faster and gentler healing process.

By Dr. Konstantin

Dr. Konstantin is a top, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon in NYC who personally performs more than 1,000 facial plastic surgery.

**This is a subjective assessment based on the strength of the available information and our estimation of efficacy.

*Result may vary. The information contained in this website is provided for general informational purposes only. No medical claims are implied in this content, and the information herein is not intended be used for self diagnosis or self treatment of any condition.

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