Essential Oils for Cold Sores & Fever Blister
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus. It’s estimated that between 50-80% of Americans carry the virus, but some may never experience a cold sore outbreak.1 The virus can be transmitted through physical contact, such as touching or kissing.
Cold sores present themselves in the form of irritated patches of skin, and blisters around the mouth. The first time you experience these symptoms you may also feel swollen lymph nodes, cold and flu symptoms, or headaches. Generally, these symptoms do not accompany every outbreak; the first is usually the worst.1
Once the herpes simplex virus is contracted, it remains with the individual for life. There is no permanent cure for cold sores, but flare ups of the blisters can be treated through over the counter applications, or naturally at home, with the help of essential oils for cold sores.
Some individuals prefer to use natural remedies for cold sores, rather than turning to pharmaceutical treatments, which may contain harsh chemical ingredients. Of the various natural or homeopathic cold sore remedies, using essential oils for a cold sore has become increasingly popular because they’re affordable, effective and safe to use topically, when diluted with carrier oils.
What Essential Oil is Good for Cold Sores?
Essential oils for virus treatment, such as herpes simplex type 1, work well because of their antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. Not all natural oils for cold sores share the same medicinal properties, or work at the same dosage, which is why it’s important to follow directions during use. For a closer look at some of the best antiviral essential oils and how to use them on cold sores, read on below.
Peppermint Oil for Cold Sores
Known for its invigorating scent and cooling sensation, peppermint essential oil may provide relief from fever blisters. In a 2003 study, researchers posed the question ‘is peppermint oil good for cold sores?’ When tested in an in vitro laboratory setting, peppermint essential oil demonstrated significant antiviral activity against both herpes simplex type 1 and 2. After 3 hours of incubation, antiviral activity was noted to be as high as 99%.2
To create your own cold sore peppermint oil treatment, mix 2 drops of peppermint essential oil with 4 drops of olive oil. Apply the mixture to a cotton swab and dab on the cold sore scab. Do not use this peppermint oil cold sore remedy on open sores. For users looking for a natural treatment, peppermint oil and cold sores go hand in hand.
Oregano Oil Cold Sore
Oregano essential oil’s antiviral properties and natural anti-inflammatory activity make it one of the most effective essential oils for cold sores on lip skin.
In a study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, a team of researchers discovered that the essential oils from Turkish oregano provided antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties. For a cold sore, oil of oregano may be useful as the extract proved to be a powerful opponent against herpes simplex virus type 1.3
To use oregano oil for cold sores, dilute 2 drops of oregano essential oil with 4 drops of a carrier oil, such as coconut. Lightly apply the cold sore essential oil remedy to a scabbed blister and massage the mixture with a clean fingertip, being careful not to disturb the scab. Wash hands thoroughly following application to prevent sharing the infection with others.
Tea Tree Oil for Fever Blisters
One notable benefit of tea tree essential oil is its potent, broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity. A 2001 pilot study used a water-based gel with 6% tea tree essential oil to test its antimicrobial characteristics against cold sores.4
Researchers found that when compared to a placebo treatment, the tea tree essential oil slowed the formation of fever blisters on the mouth.4 In a separate study, tea tree essential oil demonstrated significant antiviral action against both herpes simplex type 1 and type 2. In viral suspension tests, plaque formations were reduced by 98.2% and 93%, respectively. These studies help support using tea tree essential oil for cold sores as an easy, at-home treatment.
The best cold sore remedy is one that helps eliminate or improve the appearance of blisters, while moisturizing the afflicted skin. To harness the antimicrobial power of tea tree essential oil at home, try a homemade lip balm. In a small sealable jar, mix 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil with 5 drops of tea tree essential oil. Apply the blend with a clean finger to any scabs and dry lips. Cold sores and coconut oil remedies work well because of this oil’s ability to nourish the skin around the blister.
Lavender Essential Oil for Cold Sores
Known for its calming and soothing properties, lavender essential oil may also be an effective remedy for cold sore blisters. In a double-blind study, researchers used a lavender essential oil cream on 75 participants with cold sores. Results show that the use of lavender essential oil on cold sores reduced blister size and healing time significantly. Subjects also reported less pain than usual after use of the lavender essential oil cream.5
To use lavender oil for cold sores, mix 2 drops of lavender essential oil with 4 drops of a carrier oil, such as sweet almond. Apply liberally to blisters once they have scabbed, or use twice weekly before a breakout to prevent blisters from forming as quickly. As with all cold sore essential oil remedies, do not apply to open wounds.
Lemon Essential Oil Cold Sores
Among the many benefits of lemon essential oil, multiple studies have noted its strong antimicrobial properties. A study featured in Botanical Medicine in Clinical Practice, investigated the antiviral effects of lemon essential oil for cold sores, as well as herpes simplex type 2. Data indicates that after 10 minutes of incubation, lemon essential oil reduced plaque formation of herpes simplex type 1 virus by 90%.9
Using lemon oil for cold sores may help speed up the healing process of the virus during the blister stage.
Does Camphor Help Cold Sores?
Traditionally used to soothe inflammation, there are several useful properties of camphor essential oil including natural pain relief, anti-inflammatory activity and when applied topically, camphor essential oil has a cooling sensation.
When tested against other essential oil remedies for herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), camphor was found to have strong antiviral capabilities that help inhibit growth of HSV-1.10
Eucalyptus Oil on Cold Sores
With natural analgesic (pain-reliving) and antibacterial qualities, eucalyptus essential oil has recently been investigated for its antiviral properties. In a 2001 study, eucalyptus and tea tree essential oil were both tested against strains of herpes simplex type 1, and found to be highly efficient in reducing the viral activity.7
For an easy essential oil cold sore remedy, combine 4 drops eucalyptus essential oil with 8 drops of olive oil. Stir the mixture, then dip a cotton swab in the blend and apply directly to scabbed sores. When using eucalyptus oil for cold sores it’s best to use a cotton swab to avoid further infection. It’s often recommended to use olive oil for cold sores as it’s a gentler carrier oil that will help keep the area moisturized.
Melissa Essential Oil Cold Sores
One valuable quality of melissa essential oil (also known as lemon balm) is its antiviral activity. In a 2008 study, the antiviral characteristics of melissa essential oil were tested against herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). The results indicate that plaque formation was reduced by 98.8% for HSV-1 and 97.2% for HSV-2. With an increasing amount of drug-resistant viruses, using lemon balm essential oil for cold sores has promising potential against both strains of the herpes virus.8
Melissa oil cold sores remedies can be easily made at home in bulk. Mix 20 drops of melissa essential oil with ½ oz. of carrier oil, such as olive oil. Apply the mixture liberally to the affected site at the first signs of infection.
Thieves for Cold Sores
Thieves oil is an essential oil blend created with cinnamon, clove, rosemary, lemon, and eucalyptus. Thieves essential oil has been noted for its antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. Some users suggest that these combined benefits make it the best natural cold sore remedy for topical use.9
Lemongrass Essential Oil for Cold Sores
With significant antiviral properties, lemongrass essential oil may be used as a natural treatment for cold sores. When tested against in vitro samples of the herpes simplex type 1 virus, lemongrass inhibited replication of the virus at only 0.1% concentration.6
Lemongrass is another essential oil fever blister remedy which works well as a lip balm. To use this essential oil cold sore remedy at home, add 5 drops of lemongrass essential oil to 2 Tbsp. of coconut oil and mix well in a small, sealed container. Apply the solution to clean dry skin, and allow the mixture to absorb naturally.
Cold Sore Remedies at Home
While there’s no way to completely stop cold sores from returning once you’ve encountered the herpes simplex virus, using a natural treatment for cold sores may help reduce their severity. Creating your own homemade recipe for cold sores is easy and allows users to mix their favorite essential oils into one effective blend.
To create a preventative face wash, combine 8 drops of lemon essential oil, 8 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, ¾ cup of water, ¼ cup of castile liquid soap, 4 drops of vitamin E oil, and ½ Tsp. of jojoba oil. Mix well and pour into a clean soap dispenser or foaming soap bottle. You can swap lemon and eucalyptus for lavender and peppermint essential oils for an equally aromatic cleansing experience, with potent cold sore fighting power.
If any DIY cold sore remedy causes an allergic reaction or skin irritation, halt treatment immediately and speak to a physician. Individuals with sensitive skin should always conduct a patch test before applying natural cold sore remedies to cold sores. When using essential oil fever blister remedies near your mouth, be careful not to accidently ingest them.
Scientific Research Referenced in this Article
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. Oral Herpes. Retrieved on May 9, 2017 from http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/adult/infectious_diseases/Oral_Herpes_22,OralHerpes/ – View reference
- Schuhmacher A., Reichling P. & Schnitzler P. (2003) Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. Phytomedicine 10(6-7), 504-510. org/10.1078/094471103322331467
- Sokmen M., Serkedjieva J., Daferera D., Gulluce M., Polissiou M., Tepe B.,… & Sokmen A. (2004) In vitro antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral activities of the essential oil and various extracts from herbal plants and callus cultures of Origanum acutidens. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry 52(11), 3309-3312. DOI: 10.1021/jf049859g
- Carson C. F., Ashton L., Dry L., Smith D. W. & Rikey T. V. (2001) Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil gel (6%) for the treatment of recurrent herpes labialis. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 48(3), 450-451. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/jac/48.3.450
- Altaei T. & Ahmed S. A. (2012) Topical treatment of herpes simplex lesion by lavender cream. Journal of Baghdad College Dentistry, 24(1), 70-74. Retrieved on May 10, 2017 from http://iasj.net/iasj?func=fulltext&aId=70197
- Minami M., Kita M., Nakaya T., Yamamoto T., Kuriyama H. & Imanishi J. (2003) The inhibitory effect of essential oils on herpes simplex virus type-1 replication in vitro. Journal of Microbiology and Immunology 47(9), 681-684. DOI: 10.1111/j.1348-0421.2003.tb03431.x
- Schnitzler P., Schon K. & Reichling J. (2001) Antiviral activity of Australian tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil against herpes simplex virus in cell culture. Die Phamrazie 56(4), 343-347. Retrieved on May 10, 2017 from http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/11338678
- Schnitzler P., Schuhmacher A., Astani A. & Reichling J. (2008) Melissa Officinalis oil affects infectivity of enveloped herpesviruses. Phytomedicine 15(9), 734-740. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2008.04.018
- Watson R. R. & Preedy V. R. (2008) Botanical medicine in clinical practice. Oxon, UK: Cromwell Press. Retrieved on May 10, 2017 from https://books.google.ca/books/about/Botanical_Medicine_in_Clinical_Practice.html?id=j5PdVtMgVLYC&redir_esc=y
- Chen W., Vermaak I. & Viljoen A. (2013) Camphor – A fumigant during black death and a coveted fragrant wood in ancient Egypt and Babylon – A review. Molecules 18(5), 5434-5454. doi:3390/molecules18055434