As if the tingling, social embarrassment, and crusty scabs weren't enough, cold sores are also often downright painful. What's more, flickers of pain can cause you to lick your lips, increasing chapped dryness, or encourage you to touch the sore with your fingers, both of which you strive to avoid. That's why you may want to take pain medications to reduce soreness.
Reach for aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen or other over-the-counter painkillers when cold sores are painful. See this list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter analgesics. Whatever you do, don't give aspirin to children or teenagers. In very rare instances, this drug can trigger a life-threatening illness called Reye's syndrome, a swelling in the brain and liver.
Alternately, you can skip pills and opt instead for topical treatments that may alleviate the sore's irritation. Visit your local pharmacy and you'll likely see a variety of medications, with anesthetics such as dibucaine, benzocaine, lidocaine, tetracaine, or camphorated phenol. Keep in mind that you shouldn't use benzocaine products in children under the age of two.