Cold sores are caused by the Herpes virus, commonly HSV 1 but can also be caused be caused by simplex 2.
There are no known cures, as of right now, but essential oils that are rich in antiviral and anti-inflammatory compounds will help to reduce outbreaks and help to heal them faster.
Essential oils are comprised of many different chemical constituents, and many of these constituents are antiviral, such as:
- Cinnamic aldehyde
- Linalyl acetate
These compounds, and their plant-specific counterparts, hold the healing power that allows essential oils, such as anise seed (LINK: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18957177), to work as effective natural medicines.
How do I use essential oils for cold sores?
When using essential oils to treat cold sores, you are going to only apply them topically. There is no need for ingestion or inhalation.
Since essential oils are highly potent and can actually irritate your skin, you want to safely apply them by mixing them with a carrier oil to dilute them.
The recommended dilution for most essential oils is 1-2% for adults and children over the age of 3. This equals to about 2 drops per teaspoon of carrier oil, or 12 drops for every 1 ounce of carrier oil.
- Select an essential oil or an essential oil blend. You can find a list of essential oils and blends, which have been lab-proven to treat viruses and cold sores, in the sections below.
- Use a carrier oil. These oils will help keep the essential oil from evaporating quickly – allowing the essential oils to last longer, and will dilute them for safe usage. Try coconut oil or jojoba oil for the best results.
- Apply your mixture to the cold sore 2-3 times a day. Keep applying daily until the cold sore has crusted over.
- Alternate with an astringent. Using rubbing alcohol or witch hazel, between applications of essential oils will help to dry up the sore and help it scab.
- Share your results in the comments, we’d love to hear your success story.
What essential oils are used to treat cold sores?
1. Tea tree oil
The antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil make it a super treatment for cold sores.
Since tea tree oil is highly potent, astringent, and drying, I don’t recommend using it more than twice a day or your skin may become irritated.
2. Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil has an amazing ability to kill a virus that’s been activated, meaning when it comes to the skins surface. Sadly this doesn’t work at the systemic and core level.
This study shows that peppermint oil lessens the symptoms of an activate herpes outbreak, and miraculously it even treats viral strains that are resistant to drugs.
3. Anise oil
Oil from the anise plant has been shown to help inhibit cold sore infections.
4. Oregano oil
In 1996 a study on oregano oil showed that it has substantial effects when treating the herpes virus.
As an essential oil, oregano literally disintegrates the virus. But it also helps reduce the inflammation caused by the virus which will lessen the sore and the pain around the site.
5. Lemon balm (Melissa) oil
Lemon balm oil, also known as Melissa oil, has two extremely beneficial constituents, p‐coumaric acid and rosmarinic acid, which prevent the herpes virus from infecting neighboring cells.
This lab study shows that a 96% success rate was achieved in the prevention of transmission.
6. Thyme oil
Thyme oil’s potent antiviral effects on HSV, shown in this study, resulted in the virus not being able to absorb into host cells.
It acts as another viral inhibitor, like lemon balm, which will keeo the virus from spreading to other sites as well as reducing the size or the cold sore while it’s forming.
7. Ginger oil
To reduce cold sore symptoms, ginger is the go-to oil, as proven by this lab study.
8. Chamomile oil
This study on the chamomile oil found it to be a potent and active antiviral against HSV. It also proved to help treat drug-resistant strains.
Chamomile oil soothes the skin, so it is also good for reducing inflammation at the site of the sore.
9. Sandalwood oil
Another lab study found Sandalwood to be a highly effective antiviral for cold sores.
While sandalwood is a wonderful smelling oil, some may find it too strong. It is great to use in an essential oil blend to power up your cold sore fighting mixture.
10. Eucalyptus oil
When tested in this study, Eucalyptuses main compound – aptly named “eucalyptol”, but also known as 8‐cineole – was found to reduce the healing time and severity of cold sores.
That’s probably because eucalyptol has an EXTENSIVE list of healing attributes, including: antimicrobial, antiseptic, antioxidant, chemotherapeutic, respiratory treatment, wound healing.
Essential oil blends for cold sores
Want to supercharge your essential oil treatment? Then try these essential oil blends for their maximum benefit.
Super Tea Tree Blend:
- 2 drops Tea tree (Get it on Amazon)
- 1 teaspoon Neem oil (Get it on Amazon)
- Apply with a cotton ball or swab
Neem oil’s anti-inflammatory properties compliment tea tree oil’s astringent and antiviral properties and allowing it to better absorb and sooth cold sores.
The Astringent Method:
- 2 tbsp distilled water (Get it on Amazon)
- 1 tsp rubbing alcohol or witch hazel (Get it on Amazon)
- 5 drops tea tree oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 3 drops lemon balm/melissa oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 3 drops eucalyptus oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 3 drops hyssop oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 2 oz amber dropper bottle (Get it on Amazon )
- Cotton balls (Get it on Amazon)
You can also use a roller bottle (available here) and forego the need for cotton balls. This is better method of application for those times that you’re not at home with cotton balls to help with application, such as work or running errands.
Cold Sore Balm:
- 1-ounce Unrefined, Virgin, Coconut oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 4 drops Roman Chamomile oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 4 drops Tea tree oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 2 drops Geranium oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 2 drops Peppermint oil (Get it on Amazon)
Blend the essential oils into the melted coconut oil. Pour into a small balm container (available here) and allow to harden. Dab on the sore three times a day as needed.
If you are prone to cold sores in the same place, try dabbing the following blend where outbreaks occur, twice daily.
- 1 tablespoon Calendula-infused oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 2 teaspoons Jojoba oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 1 teaspoon Rosehip seed oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 10 drops Lemon Balm/Melissa oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 4 drops Manuka oil (Get it on Amazon)
- 4 drops Roman Chamomile oil (Get it on Amazon)
Put all of the ingredients in a dark glass bottle (available here) and store in a cool area away from light.