Cold sores are painful, irritating, ugly-looking and embarrassing. Some of us get them from time to time, while others suffer from them more often.
The sad truth is once you contract the herpes virus that causes them, it stays in your body for the rest of your life. There is no cure for it and it causes cold sore outbursts when certain risk factors kick in, such as a change in hormones, weakened immune system, stress, and over exposure to the sun.
Fortunately, there are treatments that can relieve you from pain and make you feel like your old self again – by speeding up the healing process.
What are Cold Sores?
Cold sores are red blisters filled with clear fluid, usually forming near the mouth or on other parts of your face. They often clump in patches – painful and tender to the touch.
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, which usually finds its way inside your body through a break in the skin, around or inside the mouth. It is estimated that around 90% of adults worldwide test positive for this type of virus, as the virus is highly contagious.
Namely, it spreads when a person comes in contact with a cold sore or the infected fluid. People are contagious even when the cold sores are no longer visible. Once you contract the virus, you will never get rid of it and it may reactivate, causing cold sore outbursts.
When your immune system is weakened because of the infection, fever or cold, or when you over-expose your skin to the sun, or when you are under a lot of stress or go through hormonal changes, that is when you are at the highest risk of developing a cold sore once again.
Before the cold sore appears, that spot will usually give out a tingling, burning or itching sensation, 6 to 48 hours before the blistering occurs. You may also experience high fever, sore throat or swollen glands. The blisters will then break open and the fluid will ooze out, forming a crust.
Cold sores usually start to heal on their own after a few days and disappear completely within 2 weeks’ time.
Treating Cold Sores with Essential Oils
Various treatments for cold sores can speed up the healing process and help with the painful blisters and other uncomfortable symptoms. Treatments often include skin creams, ointments, and in some cases pills.
The alternative is to treat your cold sores with natural essential oils, as they can help ease the discomfort and pain, reduce swelling, and speed up the healing process.
Make sure to browse through the properties of each individual plant and its essential oil before you apply it on your skin.
It’s possible to be allergic to some of the compounds contained in the essential oils, so be careful and apply only a small amount of it to your skin for the first time in order to spot a possible reaction. If you develop a rash, swelling, or any irritation, stop using the essential oil immediately and consult a healthcare professional.
Plant Oils That Treat Cold Sores
You are able to buy Aloe Vera essential oil or use creams, lip balms, or juice made out of it. However, the gel you get when you snip off the pieces of your homegrown Aloe Vera plant is also very efficient when applied directly to the cold sore.
Aloe Vera is known to speed up the healing process, and stop the pain and inflammation. Moreover, it stimulates the growth of new, healthy skin, thanks to the glycoproteins and polysaccharides found in it. It is also rich in amino acids and contains vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C.
Lemon Balm Essential Oil
This essential oil can help you heal faster and reduces the redness and swelling around the cold sores. Some studies even show that it has the potential to reduce the chance of cold sores appearing again after some time.
However, lemon balm essential oil does nothing to relieve the pain and discomfort you feel from your scabbing cold sore.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and it is proven effective against certain strains of the herpes virus.
Never swallow tea tree oil, and test with small amount first as it is known to sometimes cause allergic reactions. Tea tree oil can be gotten in the form of gel or mixed with carrier oil.
Essential oils can be used in various ways to treat cold sores. For instance, you are able to apply them directly on the infected spot, mix them with carrier oils, buy a commercial product containing them, or brew a tea to treat the affected area. Here are a few ways to use essential oils to treat cold sores.
Brewing herbs is a great way for extracting the essential oils from them. Boil a cup of water and add 2 to 4 teaspoons of crushed herbs. Let the mixture boil for another 10 to 15 minutes.
When it cools down, strain out the plant matter and apply the tea with cotton balls on your cold sore several times a day. Never drink essential oils.
As a Lip Balm
Use a cotton swab to apply a lip balm that contains essential oils to avoid spreading cold sores all over your lips and face. Avoid sharing your lip balm with anyone as this can spread the virus – even if your cold sores are healed.
It is possible to apply essential oils to cold sores in ointment form. In your local store, you can find ointments and creams that contain peppermint oil, lemon balm and others.
How often you use the ointment depends on how concentrated the essential oil is.
Mix with a Carrier Oil
carrier oils help carry the essential oil into the deeper parts of your skin. Usually, the mix should contain 3-6 drops of essential oil for an ounce of carrier oil.
One of the best choices for carrier oil is coconut oil, since it contains a lot of oleic acid. This is a fatty acid which is one of the ingredients that help other elements in the mix penetrate the skin.
Although essential oils are natural remedies and are usually beneficial, they need to be used properly. Here are a few things to pay attention to when applying them in your treatment.
Usage with Other Medications
Firstly, to be on the safe side, if you are using any medication for a chronic condition, look up whether it’s safe to use essential oils alongside it.
Essential oils can sometimes interfere with the effects of diabetes medicines, sedatives, thyroid issues medication, blood pressure regulation drugs and HIV therapy.
Don’t Overdo It
Although they can be useful in small amounts, essential oils can become harmful if overused. Pay attention to how much and how often you apply them. Excessive amounts can weaken your epidermis, which leads to difficulties in your skin’s ability to self-repair.
Your skin is unique and reactions to essential oils can be different for everyone. Pay attention to the way your skin responds to essential oils and in case there is any, even the slightest negative reaction, discontinue the treatment.
Negative reactions can vary from rashes to irritation and burning. This might mean you are allergic or you are applying too strong of a dilution. If you develop a negative reaction, stop using the oil and consult a professional.
Diluted Oils are Safer
When using essential oils in their pure form, be aware of their strength. If applying to skin, make sure you’ve diluted them with a neutral and non-abrasive carrier oil.
This will prevent any worsening of your inflammation and will make the essential oil actually work for and not against you. Only a few essential oils, such as aloe vera oil, are mild enough for usage without prior diluting.
Best Essential Oils For Treating Cold Sores
Grown in the stunning region of Madagascar, the RAVENSARA Organic Essential Oil features a spicy and herbal aroma, which reveals its beneficial properties.
This oil can be used as a preventative for flus and colds, and for cold sores directly on affected areas. This organic essential oil is extracted using non-GMO plants.
The RAVENSARA Organic Essential Oil is capable of clearing pathogens in the body, and cleaning the skin surface of bacteria.
Use in a diffuser, or apply topically. This is an all-natural treatment, ideal for blistering sores.
- Certified organic
- Has a great quality and is effective
- It has possibly been watered down, as the scent isn’t that strong
The Oral Cure Rinse makes use of a plethora of healthy ingredients meant to stop the onset and progression of both cold and canker sores. The 100% therapeutic grade oils elegantly blend together to alleviate the pain associated with blister sores, reducing redness and soothing the area.
Featuring a blend of lavender, lemon, basil, geranium, chamomile, Melissa, tea tree and niaouli, this essential oil offers the most comprehensive mix of ingredients associated with curing cold sores in no time.
- It does what it’s supposed to do
- The effects are quick
- There are no downsides to this essential oil
The process of putting tea tree oil on a cold sore has been used for generations in promoting fast recovery. Derived from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant in sunny Australia, tea tree oil is renowned for its powerful healing properties, for both skin and nail conditions.
It works by accelerating the healing process, thus, this 100% pure and organic essential oil will ease the pain and stinginess of the cold sore. Moreover, tea tree is used in stopping the virus from spreading, helping the blister clear up faster and more efficiently.
- Has a nice smell
- Highly effective
- There are no cons to be found
If you’re looking for an all-natural product that has been scientifically proven to help with cold sores, then wild oregano might just be the product for you.
With multiple studies published in the journal of Food Chemistry, oregano features antimicrobial properties which work wonders against cold sores and the herpes virus.
What makes this brand stand out is the commitment to keeping all essential oils 100% pure, maintaining their strength and providing you with the relief necessary. As the oil is not diluted at all, you will benefit from premium-grade, therapeutic extracts.
- It is effective as well as concentrated
- Keeps you healthy
- Smells good
- Can be too strong and might burn your skin if you’re not careful
- The dispenser is not that great
Once upon a time, Australian aborigines used eucalyptus leaves for treating wounds and even preventing infections. These days, you are able to find the oil in a more diluted form, yet still 100% pure for promoting healing and dealing with inflammation.
When it comes to cold sores, eucalyptus benefits from anti-inflammatory properties and reduces pain while speeding up the entire healing process. In fact, you might even choose to make your own cosmetic products (i.e., lip balms, or other ointments), adding a couple of drops of this liquid miracle.
- It works extremely well
- Has a nice, refreshing scent
- May not be as pure as it states
- Its smell goes away too quickly
The Pure Body Bulgarian Lavender essential oil is an excellent option for taking down the discomfort and swelling associated with cold sores. Not only will you benefit from its anti-inflammatory and analgesic compounds, but the scent will elevate your spirits.
More specifically, lavender has a sweet yet subtly woody smell, which also promotes relaxation and peace of mind.
Capable of calming any discomfort, diminishing inflammation and relieving stress and anxiety caused by cold sores, this pure, 100% lavender oil is an ideal choice if you’re searching for a natural and hippie alternative.
- Most people found the scent amazing
- Great value for money
- High-quality product
- Some people didn’t like the smell
- Can be irritating to some skin types
First Botany is a renowned brand that produces numerous essential oils for treating different illnesses, or preventing health issues. Among their most popular products, the Pure Australian Tea Tree Essential Oil is regarded for its healing properties.
100% pure, natural, with no preservatives and no additives, this purified product comes from distilled fresh leaves and can even be used on babies.
- Highly effective and gets the job done
- It didn’t work as well for other buyers
- The smell isn’t that great
Although you might have heard of the healing properties of lavender, cloves, or tea tree in relieving cold sores, not many know about Copaiba.
Grown in the exotic location of Peru, this essential oil is used for treating a wide range of conditions, including skin sores, healing wounds, insect bites, nail fungus and even respiratory ailments.
This 100% pure oil from Plant Guru is an excellent alternative to conventional products available on the market. Moreover, its strong smell and properties are ideal for cold sores happening during flu season, or when viruses are lurking around.
- It is effectual and has a very good quality
- Comes at a great price
- The smell isn’t that strong or fragrant
There is no denying that the fresh and uplifting scent of bergamot essential oil can quickly stabilize and promote positive emotions, even when faced with an ugly and painful cold sore each time you look in the mirror.
Considered an imperative anti-infectious agent to have in your home, Bergamot oil can be applied by itself, or in a mixture using coconut or other essential oils of your choice. Not only will you smell stunning, but your cold sore will be gone in days.
- Has a pleasant smell
- Comes in a big bottle
- Possibly watered down
- Some consumers found the smell to be bad
When it comes to controlling the viruses associated with cold sores, Melissa and peppermint are the oils of choice. Although there are multiple ways for using peppermint as a preventative and healing cure for all types of health issues, it is excellent as a topical liquid on top of sores.
Not only does it promote a quicker healing due to its antimicrobial properties, but it also eases pain by temporarily numbing the area. In other words, peppermint acts similar to tea tree oil, being a potent antiviral that keeps cold sores and blisters at bay.
- Has a very nice scent
- High-quality and does wonders
- Does not have any downsides
Consult Your Doctor
If you plan to use essential oils as your only cold sore treatment, or if you plan to combine it with other medicines, you should consult your doctor beforehand.
If you start using essential oils and have an adverse reaction, or the cold sores persist and don’t respond to treatment, you should consult your doctor.
Another important thing for chronic patients is the potential interference between their chronic condition medications and essential oils. Consult your doctor before using essential oils if you are already using other medications.
Be Cautious When Pregnant
The most sensitive period of a pregnancy is the first trimester. Please do your research about using essential oils when pregnant, and consult your doctor before using essential oils.
Be Cautious When Using on Kids
Before including any essential oils in treatment for kids, consult your doctor about potential usage and dosage. As kids are much smaller than adults, we need to take special attention when it comes to dosing essential oils for them.
Generally, the dilution strength should be 1%, meaning that 1 teaspoon of carrier oil is used for 1 drop of essential oil.
Children should not use peppermint oil for treating cold sores.
Never Use on Open Sores
Essential oils should not be used on open sores since there is a high risk of irritation. Even aloe vera, which is one of the mildest of oils, may cause a negative reaction if applied on any type of open wound.
Essential oils can be great for easing cold sores and other conditions when used appropriately.
For more on uses of essential oils, and different things they can be used for, please check out our complete list of essential oils and what they are used for here.