If you’ve ever had a cold sore, you’ve probably tried heaps of available treatments. But have you ever tried essential oils for cold sores?
It’s estimated that over half of people in the United States have been infected with the virus that causes cold sores. While many people will never develop cold sores or experience any symptoms, around 20 to 40 percent of people with the virus will develop these blisters.
As well as being common, they’re also super annoying. From the moment that you feel one coming on, you’re probably already looking for ways to get rid of them as fast as possible.
And that’s where essential oils for cold sores come in – offering a natural solution to the various facets of these irritating little blisters.
In this article on the best essential oils for cold sores, we’ll cover:
- What are cold sores and what causes them?
- How can essential oils help with cold sores?
- The 11 best essential oils for cold sores.
What are cold sores and what causes them?
Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, are red, fluid-filled blisters that form around your lips, normally caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
Cold sore blisters are often found clumped together in patches. At points, these blisters break leaving a scab that can last for several days.
While they can persist for three weeks or longer, cold sores usually heal completely in two to three weeks and don’t tend to leave scars.
While cold sores usually form close to the mouth, they can occur on other areas of the face and in rare cases, may even appear on the fingers, nose, or inside the mouth.
A common tell-tale sign that you’re developing a cold sore is when you experience a tingling, itching, or burning feeling around your mouth.
Cold sores are contagious and can spread the herpes virus through contact such as kissing or sharing beverages from the same vessel.
They’re usually contagious from the moment you first feel tingling or other signs of a cold sore coming on up until the sore has completely healed and disappeared. This means that cold sores can be contagious even when they’re not visible.
At present, there’s no cure for cold sores, and those who suffer from them will often experience breakouts multiple times in their lifetime. Saying this, there are certain treatments that can relieve and manage outbreaks.
While there are many over the counter and prescription treatments,
How can essential oils help with cold sores?
Whenever you peel an orange, pluck a stalk of lavender, strip a sprig of rosemary, or sniff a rose, the lovely fragrance that fills your nose is the essential oil of the plant.
Essential oils are liquids containing the natural fragrant essence extracted from flowers, leaves, bark, roots, fruit peel, berries, and other natural sources.
But how can these plant liquids help with cold sores?
Essential oils can help with many aspects of cold sores. This includes helping to reduce inflammation, offering anti-viral protection, promoting healing of the skin, preventing scarring, relieving itchiness, reducing pain, tightness, and preventing infection.
As will be explained in the next section, each essential oil has different properties and will help with cold sores in different ways and to different degrees.
How To Use Essential Oils For Cold Sores Safely:
To use essential oils for cold sores, simply dilute around 4 drops in 1 ounce of your chosen carrier oil (we recommend jojoba, sweet almond, or coconut oil) then dab it on the affected area using a clean cotton ball.
Make sure to always wash your hands before and after treating your cold sores to avoid infection and prevent spreading the virus.
The production of essential oils is not monitored by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so it’s important to do some research on the brands you use so you know they are high-quality and safe.
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant oils, meaning many are toxic if ingested or applied to the skin when undiluted. (Hence why they make good bug repellents!) For this reason, it’s crucial to dilute your essential oils in a neutral carrier oil before applying them to the skin.
Finally, if you have any adverse reactions, stop use immediately and consult a doctor if the issue persists.
The 11 best essential oils for cold sores.
#1: Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is amongst the better-known essential oils for cold sores.
This 2003 study found the oil to have potent antiviral properties when applied topically against both strains of herpes virus which cause cold sores.
In addition, peppermint oil has an instant cooling effect on the skin, acting as a very mild analgesic (local painkiller).
#2: Oregano Oil
Oregano is a miracle botanical, and when it comes to treating cold sores it doesn’t disappoint.
Multiple books and peer-reviewed studies have evidenced the antiseptic properties of oregano oil, making it great for keeping cold sores safe from infection. These studies have also shown oregano oil to be antiviral, combatting cold sores at their source.
What’s more, studies also found oregano oil speeds up the healing of wounds and scabs and reduces scarring.
#3: Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil has been used for hundreds of years for various magical properties, and it is amongst the most versatile essential oil for cold sores.
Numerous studies evidence tea tree to have potent antiviral effects meaning it can combat the herpes virus causing the cold sore.
They also show this oil to be antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, meaning that tea tree oil can protect cold sore blisters and scabs from becoming infected while also relieving redness and irritation.
#4: Chamomile Oil
Chamomile is one of the best-known plants for treating anxiety, but did you know that it’s also antiviral?
This study showed high concentrations of chamomile oil to reduce herpes replication by up to 99%! However, it’s important to note again here that applying highly concentrated chamomile oil to your skin could cause irritation, so make sure to dilute it before use in the ratios mentioned above.
What’s more, chamomile oil is also anti-inflammatory and highly soothing for the skin, making it perfect to calm any irritation and/or redness with cold sores.
#5: Hyssop Oil
Hyssop oil is one of the lesser-known, but by no means lesser effective essential oils for cold sores.
Hyssop oil has been found in these studies to have an inhibitory effect on the herpes virus, preventing it from replicating and spreading.
Plus, this wonder oil has been shown to heal wounds faster, protect against infections and reduce the visibility of scars – great news for getting your lips back to their luscious, non-cold sore selves.
#6: Thyme Oil
Thyme is a great essential oil for cold sores due to its anti-viral effects, as shown in this study which evidenced thyme oil to inhibit the activity of the herpes virus.
Thyme oil has also been shown in various studies to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and to have a mild analgesic effect when applied topically to the skin.
#7: Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil is not only amazing for relieving stress, but also for preventing and treating cold sores.
This study evidenced eucalyptus oil to be effective in reducing the severity and duration of cold sores. It’s also antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and promotes faster healing of wounds and sores, studies show.
#8: Melissa Oil
Also commonly known as lemon balm, melissa oil has been found to protect cells from the penetration of the herpes virus by up to 96 percent in this peer-reviewed study.
In addition to being anti-viral, melissa oil is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory making it perfect for protecting against infection and redness of cold sores.
#9: Sandalwood Oil
This study found sandalwood oil to inhibit the replication of herpes virus cells, attacking cold sores at their source. Another study corroborated these findings, showing sandalwood oil to be effective at all stages of the viral infection cycle.
What’s more, sandalwood oil is also antibacterial and anti-inflammatory so can help reduce any infection, redness, and irritation associated with cold sores.
#10: Ginger Oil
This study found ginger oil to protect against strains of the herpes virus that had become resistant to available antiviral drugs. Another study confirmed these antiviral and virucidal properties, finding the oil to inhibit the activity and replication of viruses.
Ginger oil is also antibacterial and has a warming feeling when applied topically to the skin, soothing cold sores and relieving pain as a mild analgesic.
#11: Anise Oil
Star anise oil not only smells incredible, but studies have also found it to have anti-viral properties that go so far as to temporarily inhibit the activity of the herpes virus and the emergence of cold sores.
In addition, star anise oil is also shown to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and has a warming effect on skin that can offer relief from itchiness, pain, and soreness.
Cold sores aren’t the only annoying little lumps that essential oils can help!
Now you know about essential oils for cold sores – what about essential oils for bug bites?