The Best Essential Oils To Treat Herpes Cold Sores

Cold sores can be a total nightmare to deal with from appearance, to pain, to the embarrassment associated with them. However, using essential oils for cold sores may help get you to sore-free skin faster. 

More people are joining the essential oil and aromatherapy movement in recent years thanks to a modern day push toward more natural, eco-friendly living and they may all be onto something. One of the most researched characteristics of essential oils as they relate to health and wellness are their proven antifungal and antibacterial properties, especially for aiding skin conditions. 

Here, we’ll discuss how you can use these potent oils to treat cold sores for faster relief. 

Woman with herpes that treats her cold sores with essential oils


What Causes Cold Sores?

Cold sores are a symptom of a type of herpes caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

There are two forms of the virus, HSV-1 (oral) and HSV-2 (genital). In general, genital herpes can only be transmitted by sexual contact with a partner infected with HSV-2. 

The virus manifests as outbreaks of fluid-filled blisters that eventually burst, causing sores and broken, irritated skin in the genitals or the lips/face. 

Sores affecting the lips and nose called cold sores or fever blisters, are caused by HSV-1 which is transmitted through exchange of oral fluids by kissing, sharing utensils, toothbrushes, etc. or the active sores themselves. There is no cure for the virus, and although the sores heal over time, they often recur. 

lips treated with essential oils for colds sores

Cold Sore Treatment

Cold sore symptoms can be treated with certain antiviral medications to relieve pain and possibly prevent more sores from forming in the short term. These drugs will not cure you of the virus, however, and need to be taken early after symptoms appear to have any real effect. 

But researchers are finding that essential oils, a more natural solution with less potential side effects, may be just as effective as prescription drugs. 

Here are the best essential oils to treat cold sores: 

  • Peppermint. A laboratory study shows peppermint essential oil significantly reduced live HSV-1 and HSV-2 virus cultures by 99%, even in strains which have become resistant to certain prescription drugs. 
  • Lemon Balm. A similar study showed that rosmarinic acid, a component in lemon balm plants, was 80-96% effective against drug resistant strains. 
  • Tea Tree essential oil is renowned for its antimicrobial properties and is often used to treat skin conditions caused by bacteria and fungus such as acne and athlete’s foot. 
  • Oregano essential oil has been a staple in at-home cold sore remedies for years. It’s been shown to combat the virus pretty effectively. 
  • Chamomile oil was effective in a study against the virus. 

Other effective oils include ginger, sandalwood, and thyme

 essential oil for cold sore treatment


Cold Sore Remedies With Essential Oils

Here are some tips on how to use these proven oils to battle cold sores. 

  • Perform a patch test. For any new skin product, whether store bought or homemade, it is important to perform a patch test to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions or allergies to the ingredients. Apply a small amount of the mixture to your inner arm, somewhere where agitation is unlikely by clothing and leave on for 30 minutes to an hour. 
  • Watch for negative reactions. Look out for any negative reactions your skin may be having to the essential oils on an open cold sore. Some slight stinging is to be expected, but further inflammation, redness, or burning is indicative of a negative reaction and use should be immediately discontinued. 
  • Apply diluted oils with a cotton swab or q-tip. You can also add oils to a lip balm base for easier application. 
  • Consult your doctor. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider about using essential oils on your cold sores before you try it. They may have further suggestions or warnings for your particular case. 


Using essential oils to help treat herpes cold sores is a more natural way to ease symptoms and shorten recovery time. There are plenty of scientifically proven effective oils to choose from, but be sure to consult with your healthcare provider on the best treatment for you. 


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