When you get a cold sore scab, your first thought may be to get rid of it as quickly as possible. These scabs, however, are an important part of the healing process, and it is usually best to let them fall off on their own. Instead of working to get rid of the scab, you may be better served by working to hasten healing. For example, you can put effort into keeping the area around it clean and use an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment such as benzyl alcohol on the area. You can also coat the scab with petroleum jelly to keep it moist and prevent cracking.
The best way to get rid of a cold sore scab is to let it heal on its own. You might feel tempted to pick at a scab in the interest of making it go away faster, but in doing so, you may actually delay healing. The scab that forms over a cold sore is a natural part of the healing process, and if you leave it alone, it will eventually drop off on its own. If you pick at it or irritate it, however, you may not only slow healing, but also cause the area to become infected.
When you are trying to speed the healing process, take care when washing your face. Experts usually recommend washing the area around the cold sore but avoiding the scab itself. If some water touches the scab while you are washing, this is unlikely to present a problem, but it's best to avoid getting a lot of soap on it. After washing your face, you can pat the sore area dry if it has become damp and then avoid reusing the towel until it has been washed — this way, you can prevent the spread of the virus that causes cold sores.
Though it's not absolutely necessary to do so, you may also consider applying an over-the-counter ointment to the scab. Ointments that contain benzyl alcohol, for example, are sometimes recommended for this purpose. They won't get rid of the scab, but they may help make the area less uncomfortable and encourage faster healing. They may also help keep the scab moist, which can lessen discomfort as well.
Petroleum jelly also won't get rid of a cold sore scab, but it may help keep it moist. This is important, as scabs that become too dry may crack and bleed. When kept moist, the scab may heal much faster.