Cold Sore Treatment

Get prescription-strength treatment after an online consultation with our medical team. We can treat a current outbreak or give you daily preventative medicine. If this is your first outbreak, please see a doctor in person.

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Sat,Sun 8AM-12PM PST
Mon-Fri 8AM-5PM    Sat,Sun 8AM-12PM PST

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Cold sores are a pain. Our doctors can help.

Lemonaid is an online doctor’s office. We’re based in San Francisco but we help patients across America. We’re a convenient way to get the healthcare you need.

So long as this isn’t your first cold sore, our doctors can give you a prescription for an effective anti-viral cold sore treatment. With our 2-hour turnaround during business hours you can pick up your medicines at the pharmacy before you know it.

What our patients are saying


There are 2 different reasons to take cold sore medicines, an immediate outbreak or daily prevention

If you’ve got an outbreak right now you’ll want treatment that helps with your immediate symptoms. These cold sore treatments last from 1 to 5 days.

If you don’t have an outbreak now but want to prevent future outbreaks, you’d take a daily preventative treatment.


Medicine for an immediate outbreak

If you’ve got a cold sore outbreak right now then prescription-strength cold sore medicine can reduce how long your cold sore outbreak lasts and you need to select between the 3 anti-viral medicines we prescribe.

All 3 are equally effective but are different in terms of how long you take them. See the table below.


# pills at a time

how often

# of days

cost of medicine

Acyclovir 400 mg
generic of Zovirax

1 pill

3 times a day

5 days

with a GoodRx coupon*

Valacyclovir 1g
generic of Valtrex

2 pills

2 times a day

1 day

with a GoodRx coupon*

Famciclovir 500 mg
generic of Famvir

3 pills

1 time

with a GoodRx coupon*

* You can only use GoodRx coupons at some pharmacies. See for details.

Daily preventative treatment (‘suppression’)

If you get a lot of cold sores then daily preventative/’suppression’ cold sore treatment can reduce how frequently you get them and you need to select between the 2 anti-viral medicines we prescribe. Daily treatment can also reduce how long a cold sore lasts if you do end up getting one.

Preventative cold sore treatment only works if you take the medicine every day on an ongoing basis.

Both medicines are equally effective but are different in terms of how many times a day you take them. See the table below.


# pills at a time

how often

# of days

cost of medicine

Acyclovir 400 mg
generic of Zovirax

1 pill

2 times a day

Take every day

$50 / 3 month course with a GoodRx coupon*

Valacyclovir 500 mg
generic of Valtrex

1 pill

1 time a day

Take every day

$40-$70 / 3 month course with a GoodRx coupon*

* You can only use GoodRx coupons at some pharmacies. See for details.

Guaranteed Doctor Response


during business hours


outside business hours


Cold sore visits are easy with Lemonaid

Select the specific cold sore medicine you want

Select between daily preventative treatment or treatment you take when you have an outbreak. Select between 2 preventative treatments. Select between 3 outbreak treatments.

Answer our health questions

Answer our questions that cover your history of cold sores, your medical history, any medicines you’re taking and any cold sore medicine you’ve tried before.

Choose your pharmacy

Choose any pharmacy in your state where you want to pick-up your cold sore medicines. If you don’t have insurance, then make sure you select a pharmacy that accepts GoodRx coupons.

Pay visit fee

Pay the visit fee to us. At the pharmacy, you’ll pay for the cost of your cold sore medicine. Use your insurance if it covers your cold sore medicines.

Doctor review

You’ll immediately have a short video consultation with a member of our medical team. If you’re in IL, NY, PA, WA, the medical team will respond within 2 hrs. There's no need to do a video chat.

Go to pharmacy to pick up medicines

Wait for one of our doctors or nurse practitioners to message you that we’ve given you a cold sore prescription. Then go to the pharmacy to pick up and pay for it. Make sure you read the treatment plan we send you before using the medicines.

Popular Pharmacies


Cold sores appear on and around your lips, not in your mouth

Cold sores appear on and around your lips. Cold sores do not occur in your mouth.

The herpes simplex virus type 1 is the most common cause of cold sores. A huge number of people carry the virus, but only some people get cold sores. There isn’t a way to get rid of the virus that causes the cold sores.

Cold sores typically last around a week. Your first cold sore outbreak may last 2 weeks. You may feel a tingling before the cold sore appears. A cold sore looks different on different people. Typically there’s some kind of cold sore blister.

Some people get a cold sore every couple of years. Other people get a cold sore once a month.


Find the lowest price on cold sore medicines


Make sure you understand the risks of using our cold sore service

Our doctors look at the answers you give to our health questions to work out if you have cold sores. We’ll also look at your medical history to work out if it’s safe and appropriate to give you a prescription without meeting you in person.

Sometimes we’ll make the wrong call

We use evidence-based guidelines to decide when it’s safe to give you a cold sore prescription, but there’s 2 ways we can get it wrong. There’s a chance we’ll give you a prescription when you don’t actually have cold sores. If this happens you’ll take a medicine you don’t need. Alternatively, we may think you don’t have cold sores when actually you do. If this happens we’ll mistakenly decline to give you a medicine you should take.

We’re more likely to make the wrong diagnosis if this is your first cold sore outbreak. That’s why you shouldn’t use Lemonaid if this is your very first cold sore.

Alternative cold sore treatments

You don’t need to take the prescription cold sore medicines we offer because there are over-the-counter alternatives you can buy at the pharmacy. The over-the-counter alternatives are less effective, but also come with less risk of serious side-effects.

There are also prescription-strength cold sore treatments we don’t prescribe – such as creams - and you always have the option of getting a prescription for these from a doctor in person.

You’ve also got the choice of not taking any medicine whatsoever for your cold sores.

‘Off-label’ use of medicines for preventative treatment

Doctors throughout the US routinely give patients the cold sore medicines we prescribe for daily preventative treatment. But it’s important to know that the FDA hasn’t specifically approved the medicines we prescribe for daily preventative use. That said, it’s totally normal for patients to get these medicines from doctors for cold sores.

Who We Can't Help

If any of the following apply, it’s in your best interest to see a doctor in person rather than use our cold sore service.

  • Under 18
  • Never had a cold sore before
  • Cold sore symptoms lasting over 10 days
  • Moderate to severe pain eating or drinking
  • Pregnant, may become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • Problems with your immune system as a result of HIV, treatment for cancer (chemotherapy), immune disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, or long-term use of prednisone / steroids or other immunosuppressive medication
  • Organ transplant
  • Kidney problems or dehydration
  • Take medicine that can be toxic to the kidney (antibiotic called gentamicin, chemotherapy, anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or naprosyn)
  • Severe headache including pain spreading to the front of your head, eye pain, or ear pain
  • Severe neck pain with sensitivity to light or sound
  • You want topical acyclovir (Zovirax), penciclovir (Denavir), or buccal tablet acyclovir (Sitavig).


415 926 5818

We're based in San Francisco. You can call us or hit us with questions on instant chat during business hours. You can send us a secure message through your Lemonaid account any time.

Email medical records

If you have a primary care provider, it’s important to keep them informed.

Go to your account to email a summary of the care we provide so you can share this information with your doctors. Or, contact us if you want us to send the summary of your care to your doctors. It's important that we're part of your overall care, not separated from it.

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Meet our medical team

Our medical team has a mission to provide great care at a price you can afford.

Our doctors are licensed in the states where we operate.


Chief Clinical Officer

Davis Liu, MD is a board certified family physician, patient advocate, physician leader, blogger, and the author of two books, including The Thrifty Patient – Vital Insider Tips for Saving Money and Staying Healthy. He’s passionate about making healthcare more convenient, personalized, and affordable. Prior to joining, Dr. Liu was a practicing primary-care doctor for fifteen years at Kaiser Permanente in Roseville, California. He also served on the Permanente Medical Group (TPMG) Board of Directors as Vice Chair of the Finance and Audit committee and the Governance committee. Dr. Liu graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Matt Walvick, DO


Dr. Matthew Walvick, D.O. is a board certified Internal Medicine physician. He completed his undergraduate education at UCLA. He received his medical degree from Touro University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Vallejo, California. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at UCSF's Fresno Medical Education Program. Prior to joining Lemonaid Health, Dr. Walvick was a practicing primary care physician at John Muir Health and then doing house calls with the start-up Heal. Dr. Walvick is excited to be a part of the Lemonaid Health team making healthcare refreshingly simple.

Vijay Bhat, MD


Vijay Bhat, MD is a board certified internal medicine physician who is passionate about providing quality medical care that’s affordable for patients. He believes that integrating technology and medicine can make healthcare efficient and more accessible. Throughout his training Dr. Bhat was involved with global health initiatives, providing care to underprivileged communities locally and overseas. He’s also been a strong proponent of quality improvement in the medical field. Dr. Bhat graduated with a BS from the University of California Berkeley, and received his medical degree from Stony Brook University in New York. He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson.

Lindsay Mitchell, ARNP

Nurse Practitioner

Lindsay Mitchell, ARNP is a Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and graduated with high honors from South University in Savannah, GA. She has a background in primary care, women’s health and focusing on evidence based practices. She has a strong passion for providing efficient and accessible patient care, along with caring for underserved patient populations. Prior to becoming an ARNP, she worked as a registered nurse in the emergency department in Jacksonville, Fl.

Kimberly Hildebrant, ARNP

Nurse Practitioner

Kimberly Hildebrant, ARNP is a board certified Family Nurse practitioner. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters in Nursing from Duquesne University. She has practiced as a nurse practitioner in the field of Infectious Disease as well as HIV for 4 years. She has over 13 years of experience as a critical care nurse. Kimberly is passionate about providing affordable healthcare to all individuals to ensure that all can live their best life. She is an advocate for preventative care and early treatment to avoid lasting illness.


Patient Support Team Lead

Jenna finds working with and helping people on a daily basis combines her two greatest passions - health care and helping others to make a difference in their lives. Prior to Lemonaid, she was a Certified Nursing Assistant caring for senior citizens, had advocated and provided resources for the mentally ill, and also had customer service experience in the field of behavioral health. Jenna graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Psychology.


Patient Support Team

JP graduated from University of California, Davis with a degree in Human Development. Prior to Lemonaid, JP worked in worker’s compensation case management, ensuring patients avoided permanent disability and adhered to medication guidelines to prevent medication overdose. She also spent time volunteering at pediatric occupational therapy clinics helping differently-abled children. She has a strong interest in mental health advocacy and believes that no matter the circumstance, everyone deserves the best quality of life possible. She joined the Lemonaid mission because she strongly supports the idea that healthcare should be both affordable and easily accessible to everyone. Outside of work, she enjoys DIY projects, anything crafty, live music and spending time with her dogs!


Patient Support Team

Elise joined Lemonaid because she believes healthcare should be accessible and affordable to everyone! With extensive professional healthcare experience, Elise has spent the last decade as an advocate for the highest quality patient care in specialties like gynecology, internal medicine, and otolaryngology and has excelled in various roles such as office manager, surgery coordinator, and front office coordinator. She feels every patient should be treated with kindness and understanding, and she brings this attitude to work every day. Aside from her medical background, she’s also a professional musician and enjoys living life to the fullest with a smile on her face.


Patient Support Team

Christine graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in English Literature. Shortly after she completed a Post Baccalaureate certificate in Pre-health professions and started her journey in healthcare! Christine is currently completing her Master of Science in Health Care Administration at California State University East Bay and will graduate in June of 2018. She has prior experience working and volunteering in various hospital and health care settings including nephrology, post-surgery geriatrics, cardiac electrophysiology, and orthopedics. Christine is excited to be a part of the Lemonaid team and contributing towards their mission of providing accessible health care to all. On her spare time Christine enjoys running, Olympic lifting, and visiting all of the national parks in the United States!

Dr. Thom Van Every

Clinical Advisor

Dr. Thom Van Every trained as a UK-based OBGYN, with a special interest in family planning and sexual health. He previously founded DrThom, the UK's largest online doctor service and then became Medical Director of the UK's second largest drugstore chain, Lloyds Pharmacy. Dr. Van Every provides expert input and advice to the clinical team but does not himself provide care to our patients.

Mitchell Creinin, MD

Clinical Expert

Mitchell Creinin, MD is Director of Family Planning at the University of California, Davis. Dr. Creinin is a board certified Obstetrician-Gynecologist. Following a residency at UCSF in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Creinin completed a Family Planning fellowship. He has conducted clinical trials with NIH, CDC, USAID, WHO, foundation and pharmaceutical funding and has more than 20 years of clinical expertise as a family planning specialist. Dr. Creinin provides expert input and advice to the clinical and product development teams but does not himself provide any care to our patients.

Mark Smith, MD, MBA

Expert Advisor

Mark Smith, MD, MBA is a board-certified internist, nationally-recognized health policy expert, consultant, and author. He maintains an active clinical practice in HIV care at San Francisco General Hospital. He is a professor at the University of California at San Francisco, a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley, and he co-chairs the Guiding Committee of the Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network. He serves on the Boards of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, the Commonwealth Fund, and other foundations. He has been honored by the California Legislature, the California Hospital Association, and others. He was the Founding President of the California HealthCare Foundation, specializing in delivery system innovation, public reporting of care quality, and applications of new technology in health care. Before CHCF, Dr. Smith was Executive Vice-President of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, where he oversaw programs in HIV, Reproductive Health, and the Health Care Marketplace. Prior to that, he was on the faculty at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and of Public Health, and directed the AIDS clinic there. Dr. Smith graduated with a BA from Harvard College, an MD from the University of North Carolina, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Smith provides expert input and advice to the clinical team but does not himself provide care to our patients.

Charlene Kakimoto, MD

Clinical Expert

Charlene Kakimoto, MD is a board-certified dermatologist—passionate about the opportunity and promise of telemedicine for patients and the future of healthcare—and thrives helping like-minded, visionary professionals to improve access to high quality, affordable care. Recently Dr. Kakimoto served as Chief Medical Officer for acne and anti-aging start-up Curology, which specializes in custom, prescription skincare. She served as Associate Professor of Dermatology for the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, MD and Director of Outpatient Dermatology Clinic, Dermatology Residency Training Program, Navy Medical Center in San Diego. She has lectured and is published extensively in her field. Dr. Kakimoto graduated from Vassar College with a degree in English Literature and received both her MD and MS in Health Communication from Tufts University School of Medicine. She completed Internal Medicine Internship and Dermatology Residency at the Navy Medical Center in San Diego, CA. Dr. Kakimoto provides expert input and advice to the clinical team but does not herself provide care to our patients.

Irwin Goldstein, MD

Clinical Expert

Irwin Goldstein, MD has been involved with sexual dysfunction research since the late 1970's and has authored more than 350 publications in the field. His interests include penile microvascular bypass surgery, surgery for dyspareunia, sexual health management post cancer treatment, physiologic investigation of sexual function in men and women, and diagnosis and treatment of sexual dysfunction in men and women. Dr. Goldstein is Director of Sexual Medicine at Alvarado Hospital, Clinical Professor of Surgery at the University of California, San Diego and practices medicine at San Diego Sexual Medicine. He is also Editor-in-Chief of Sexual Medicine Reviews and past Editor of The Journal of Sexual Medicine. He is President of the International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health and a Past President of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America. In 2014 Dr. Goldstein received the ISSM Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Society for Sexual Medicine, and in 2009, 2012, 2013, he received other lifetime achievement awards from different associations for this work. He holds a degree in engineering from Brown University and received his medical degree from McGill University.

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