How to Use Essential Oils for Cold Sores

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:

  • Anethole
  • Beta-caryophyllene
  • Carvone
  • Cinnamic aldehyde
  • Citral
  • Citronellol
  • Eugenol
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Linalyl acetate
  • Alpha-sabinene
  • Y-terpinene

These compounds, and their plant-specific counterparts, hold the healing power that allows essential oils, such as anise seed (LINK:, 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Apply your mixture to the cold sore 2-3 times a day. Keep applying daily until the cold sore has crusted over.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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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.

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3. Anise oil

Oil from the anise plant has been shown to help inhibit cold sore infections.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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7. Ginger oil

To reduce cold sore symptoms, ginger is the go-to oil, as proven by this lab study.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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:

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:

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.

Prevention Blend:

If you are prone to cold sores in the same place, try dabbing the following blend where outbreaks occur, twice daily.

Put all of the ingredients in a dark glass bottle (available here) and store in a cool area away from light.

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