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Can You Get Rid of Pesky Cold Sores With Essential Oils?

Learn about 3 essential oils that might help you out when trying to clear a cold sore fast.

Read on

There is no denying it, the rise of essential oils is still going strong. These concentrated smell-good plant compounds are used as a natural treatment for a variety of ailments, including cold sores.

While antiviral medications, like Valacyclovir, are proven helpful as a cold sore treatment, essential oils have also shown some promise.

If you’re interested in treating your cold sore naturally with essential oils, you’re in the right place.

What are essential oils?

You’re likely familiar with essential oils or at the very least have heard of them. But what are they really?

Essential oils are concentrated plant compounds that are extracted from plant material through a distillation process.

Simply put, essential oils are comprised of all the good stuff extracted from plants and herbs.

Read Related: 3 Essential Oils For Rosacea: Rose, Chamomile, and Tea Tree

Which essential oils might help with a cold sore?

Let’s find out which essential oils are the most helpful for cold sores.

1. Lemon balm essential oil

According to a relatively new 2014 study, lemon balm essential oil was shown to inhibit the herpes simplex virus from penetrating the cell by 80 to 96 percent.

This essential oil was found to perform well with drug-resistant strains of HSV1 (the infection that causes cold sores).

To use lemon balm essential oil, dilute it with a carrier oil before applying it directly to your cold sore. To offer quicker recovery, it’s best to lean on prescription antiviral medications. However, it may not hurt to add natural remedies into your repertoire.

2. Peppermint essential oil

This potent essential oil is often used for the treatment of cold sores for its antiviral properties.

In this 2003 study, researchers found that peppermint oil had the ability to inhibit and destroy the herpes simplex virus stating “Peppermint oil exhibited high levels of viricidal activity against HSV-1 and HSV-2 in viral suspension tests.”

This essential oil is quite strong so it’s best used sparingly, and of course, diluted.

3. Tea tree essential oil

Known for its anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties, tea tree is a go-to for all-natural cold sore treatments.

To use, dilute the tea tree oil in a carrier oil and use a cotton swab to dab the area. Don’t use more than twice a day as this strong oil could irritate the skin.

For quicker recovery from a cold sore outbreak, it’s best to use proven antiviral medications that have been shown to shorten the duration of cold sore outbreaks.

What are the risks of using essential oils?

If misused, essential oils could result in a few issues. If you’re planning to use essential oils as a treatment for a cold sore you should keep a few things in mind.

  • To avoid the risk of allergic reactions or skin irritation conduct a 24-hour patch test.
  • Always dilute essential oils when using them on your skin. Try jojoba grapeseed or rosehip oil.
  • Don’t overuse essential oils as overuse can damage your skin.
  • If you have sensitive skin or a skin barrier weakness -- you might want to skip this natural remedy.

Are prescription cold sore medications a better option?

Perhaps. The benefits of using antiviral medications for cold sores are validated.

One big advantage is antivirals used at the first sign of a cold sore may be able to help shorten the duration of your outbreak (clearing up your cold sore quicker woohoo).

If it is recommended by your doctor, daily use of antiviral medication like Valacyclovir might also be able to prevent future outbreaks.

Learn More: 8 tips on getting rid of a cold sore

Essential oils for cold sores: Bottom line

Home remedies such as diluted essential oils might be able to help soothe or reduce the appearance of cold sores but there are many limitations to this approach.

If you use diluted essential oils as described, conduct an allergy patch test, and are careful with topical use, there should be no reason to advise against the use of some essential oils for cold sores. Although, their effectiveness for cold sores is not yet confirmed.

However, prescription medications have been proven effective for the use of reducing the effects of the herpes simplex virus.

Also Read: Valacyclovir (Valtrex) for Cold Sores: Common Treatment Questions Answered

Cold sore prescription medications online at

No one enjoys dealing with a cold sore. They’re painful and can make you feel super self-conscious.

If you deal with HSV1 cold sores, you might be a good candidate for the antiviral medication Valacyclovir (aka generic Valtrex). When Valacyclovir is used at the first sign of cold sores, you might be able to shorten the life of your cold sore.

If you need one weapon against cold sores in your medicine cabinet -- it’s keeping Valacyclovir on hand.

To find out if this prescription is right for you, complete this free online questionnaire-based doctor's consultation.

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