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What Are The Best Essential Oils for Cold Sores

What Are The Best Essential Oils for Cold Sores

For anyone who suffers from cold sores, there is a feeling of dread that washes over you when you feel the first sign of pain by your mouth: a cold sore is coming. You can’t plan or prepare for them and they always pop up at the most inconvenient time.

The severity of cold sores can vary from person to person, from outbreak to outbreak. Sometimes they are extremely painful, and at other times they are just an inconvenient embarrassment (and no kissing allowed!).

If you’ve suffered from cold sores, you will no doubt want a quick and easy treatment to diminish pain and get rid of the cold sore quick. As a fellow cold sore sufferer, I totally understand. A few years ago I was keen to find an alternative to over the counter medicines – I just don’t like using them.

After consulting one of my favourite essential oil books (The Fragrant Pharmacy), I found a couple of oils to try…and it worked! So now whenever a cold sore strikes, it’s straight to the essential oil cupboard for me.

Today I’m going to share the best essential oils for cold sores and how to use them.

What is a Cold Sore?

A cold sore, also referred to as a fever blister, is a group of blisters that form on the lips or around the mouth. People can typically feel a cold sore under the skin a day or two before it is visible.

These blisters are small but they can be very painful. Usually the blisters will break open and leak a clear fluid, scab over and clear up in a matter of days. Cold sores are very common and more than three million cases are reported every year in the United States.

What Causes Cold Sores?

Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1). The bad news is, once you have been infected with this virus, it is always in your body. The only way to effectively avoid cold sores is to never come in contact with the HSV-1 virus.

You become infected when you come into contact with bodily fluids containing HSV-1. This could happen by sharing a drink, sharing lip balm/lipstic or kissing. The bottom line is, they are extremely contagious so it is really important if you are infected, to eliminate any way you can pass the virus on. Also, ensure you wash your hands regularly, particularly after treating the sore.

Some people can be infected with HSV-1 and never actually get a cold sore. But, if you are part of the unlucky population who do suffer from cold sores, the main goal is treating them quickly and painlessly when they surface.

Treatment For Cold Sores

Treatments for cold sores can range from doing nothing to over the counter creams and prescription medication. For some people cold sores are a non-issue and they clear up in a few days, for others it can be a painful ordeal that involves a sore throat or swollen glands.

While there are plenty of options out there, if you are looking for a natural treatment, essential oils might be the answer for you.

Essential Oils

What Are The Best Essential Oils for Cold Sores

Essential oils can be a very powerful, holistic approach to curing sickness, healing wounds or managing mental illness. And they can definitely help treat cold sores!

They can actually penetrate the cell membrane and get to work right where the virus is active. Below are some of the best essential oils for cold sores. I would suggest starting with one and then try another, depending on results. You can also try mixing it up and using different oils at different stages.


I will start with geranium oil because for me it has been the most successful. To use it, simply apply 1 drop onto a cotton bud and apply it directly to the sore, if possible as soon as you suspect it coming. Repeat every few hours, particularly in the early stages.


What Are The Best Essential Oils for Cold Sores

Peppermint oil exhibits strong antiviral properties and can help heal a cold sore while aiding with any pain or discomfort. The peppermint smell and tingly feeling on the skin can quickly take away any discomfort. Apply directly to the cold sore every few hours.

It has been shown to be really effective when used in the early stages of the cold sore and within 3 hours will have antiviral activity of 99% (Source)


Lavender is one of the best antiviral choices for cold sores. Lavender and peppermint are in class of oils that help soothe and provide relief. Using lavender oil for cold sores can be very effective for relieving any pain or discomfort at the site.

Tree Tea Oil

Tree tea oil is very powerful in healing inflammation of the skin and boasts antiviral properties. Applying small amounts of tea tree oil to a cold sore as soon as you feel the first symptoms can stop the cold sore or make it more mild and bearable.

While it can be applied undiluted, it is best to dilute a few drops in a carrier such as coconut oil (which itself has properties that will help the treatment). Rub into the affected area as often as needed.

Essential Oil Blends

What Are The Best Essential Oils for Cold Sores

Sometimes the glands and throat can also become inflamed due to the herpes simplex virus. In these cases it also helps to massage an essential oil blend into the face and neck using the following recipe:

10 drops Geranium
10 drops Lavender
2 drops Thyme
8 drops Lemon

Dilute the essential oils in 30mls carrier oil e.g. coconut, sweet almond, jojoba.


If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from cold sores every year, using essential oils to treat and diminish them is a natural and effective solution. Essential oils can be an extremely powerful option because they target the virus right at the source with their antiviral properties, while other oils can provide relief from any pain or discomfort.

Best of all, essential oils are natural and safe! It is important to understand how to dilute your oils before applying them to the skin and you should also purchase your oils from a reputable source. Rather than hiding out or living in pain until your cold sore goes away, grab your essential oils and get back to your everyday life.
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