If you are experiencing that tingle or throbbing sensation you are probably dreading that cold sore that you know is on its way. Or perhaps you already have a cold sore and want to know how to get rid of it. You are in the right place. Cold sores are also known as fever blisters and are highly annoying, painful, and just looking at them makes people cringe.
They are caused by the HSV-1, a strain of the herpes simplex virus. A lot of people are infected and were, in fact, infected during childhood already. It may stay dormant forever in some people, but many people trigger the virus during times of stress, exhaustion, illness, hormonal changes, or even sun exposure which results in a cold sore (1).
The tingling sensation is usually followed by a blister or blisters which eventually starts oozing and then forms a scab. Without treatment or when you use treatments that don’t really work this process can take up to 4 weeks, or in severe cases even 6 weeks to go away.
Thankfully, they don’t always scar. Using tea tree for cold sores is often touted as one of the best remedies.
Does Tea Tree Oil Get Rid of Cold Sores?
The answer is yes. But how does tea tree oil help cold sores?:
Tea tree oil has antiviral properties that are effective against the herpes simplex virus.
Tea tree oil speeds up wound healing by speeding up the rate at which the body replaces infected cells with healthy cells.
Tea tree oil is antimicrobial so it kills bacteria and fungi too. This will prevent your sores from becoming infected with something else as it heals.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Cold Sores
Apply one of these remedies as soon as you feel the tingling to try and prevent a cold sore from developing. If it doesn’t stop the cold sore from developing, you can use tea tree oil to speed up the healing. Use it at least twice a day. If possible, the remedy every few hours. You can also use tea tree on a cold sore overnight so that it can do its work for longer.
Using the tea tree oil neat can cause a skin irritation so always dilute it first as the remedies instruct below. Always try to use a cotton swab, cotton wool, or a tissue when applying remedies to your cold sore as this will minimize the risk of the virus spreading.
1. Tea Tree and Carrier Oil
This is one of the easiest ways to put tea tree oil on the fever blister.
Dilute the tea tree oil with a carrier oil by using 2-10 drops of tea tree oil per tablespoon of carrier oil.
Apply the mixture to your cold sore and leave it on for at least 15 minutes before rinsing.
If you want to use it overnight, tape the cotton ball in place or use a band-aid.
Carrier oils are oils like olive oil, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and the best to use on a cold sore, coconut oil. Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties. If you use coconut oil you may need to melt it a little since it becomes solid when it’s cold.
2. Tea Tree and Honey
Honey can be combined with tea tree oil as it has antiviral properties that target the herpes simplex virus (2). Use raw honey on your cold sore as raw honey has antimicrobial properties. The processed honey often has had these beneficial properties removed by during processing.
Add 2-10 drops of tea tree oil to the honey.
Use as you would the tea tree and carrier oil remedy.
If you prefer, you can add a little bit of honey to the tea tree and carrier oil remedy instead.
3. Tea Tree and Toothpaste
Many people have found that toothpaste is very effective against cold sores, but some people do tend to react badly to the toothpastes containing SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) which is the ingredient that fights the herpes virus. You can add tea tree oil to toothpaste containing SLS or SLS-free toothpaste, in fact, it will increase the effectiveness of the SLS-free toothpaste.
The toothpaste should be the white toothpaste, not the gel toothpaste.
Just add a drop or two of tea tree oil to the toothpaste and apply it as you would the above remedies.
4. Tea Tree and Aloe Vera
Aloe vera not only soothes the skin and speeds up healing but helps to kill the herpes virus too (3).
Here’s how to do it:
If you have an aloe plant you can cut off a leaf and squeeze the gel out, otherwise, you can get aloe gel from most health stores.
Add 2-10 drops of tea tree oil per tablespoon of aloe gel.
Use as you would the other remedies.
5. Tea Tree Oil Compress
Tea tree oil can be diluted with water too, you just need to shake or stir it in order to mix it before each application.
Dilute the tea tree oil with water at a ratio of around 5-20 drops of oil per ounce of water.
Dip a cotton swab or ball into the mixture and squeeze it out a little bit so that it isn’t dripping.
Then hold it gently against your cold sore for at least 5 minutes before rinsing.
You can also use a clean cloth, but remember that the virus can transfer to the cloth so rather use a fresh cloth each time.
Tips and Precautions
Do a patch test first, some people are sensitive or allergic to tea tree oil.
Wash your hands before and after treating your cold sore or if you touch it accidentally.
Don’t share towels, toothbrushes, lip balms, cups, cutlery. Avoid kissing people if either of you has a cold sore.
Genital herpes can cause oral herpes and vice versa. Avoiding sex until all sores are completely healed is important if either of you has genital herpes and avoid oral sex as well.
Keep your immune system strong by eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables and cut out or limit consumption of processed foods and alcohol. Make time to relax as stress also weakens the immune system, get 7-8 hours of quality sleep, and exercise 3-6 days a week.
A healthy diet, good quality sleep, exercise, and stress management will also help to keep your hormones balanced.
Get rid of your toothbrush or any lip products that you used when you got the cold sore. Using them can reintroduce the virus and trigger another cold sore.
Never pick at your cold sore and always work very gently when applying remedies. The scab will go away by itself. You should never try to scratch or pull it off.
Some people find it useful to avoid foods like grains, spinach, chocolate, carob, nuts, seeds, spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee while they have a cold sore. These foods often aggravate the cold sore.
If you are a smoker, try to avoid smoking when you have a cold sore. Quit smoking to help prevent cold sores since your overall health is very important and cold sores are most often caused by a weak immune system and poor health.
Herpes is not a virus that can be cured, but by sticking to these tips you can prevent cold sores from forming again. If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch. You can use the comment section.
Jane Scott grew up on a farm in California and is a crossover between a country girl and an evangelist for healthier living. She’s a nutritionist who preaches that healthy living need not be complicated.
She believes that by exercising regularly, eating mostly non-processed foods (with plenty of vegetables), and using home remedies for the small things and doctor’s advice for the big things, almost anybody can feel great and live a happier and healthier life. She’s excited to share her knowledge of natural remedies and healthier living on HRFL.
In her spare time, Jane enjoys cooking and watching bad rom-coms. She also loves nuts, and is a bit of a nut herself when it comes to Yoga, which she’s a little too obsessed with in the opinion of her friends and family.