Mouth sores, or cold sores, also called "fever blisters," are open, inflamed sores that form around the mouth. These sores are almost always caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There is no cure for HSV.
Once you've had a herpes, stress, sunlight, or hormonal changes can cause the virus to become active and give you another.
There are over-the-counter and prescription remedies that claim to treat the pain and inflammation caused by herpes. But researchers are beginning to discover that organic compounds found in some essential oils could treat cold sores just as effectively.
This is good news for people who have cold sores, as essential oils may have a lower risk of severe side effects than pharmaceutical treatments. Some strains of herpes have developed resistance to the drugs we've been using to treat them for years, but essential oils can be effective against these strains.
Essential oils are highly concentrated vegetable oils. They should not be taken orally, some are toxic when ingested.
Essential oils are intended to be applied topically or by inhalation, using an infuser. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil, such as sweet almond oil, before applying to the skin. Usually 3 to 5 drops of essential oil per 1 ounce of sweet almond or olive oil is the recipe to start with.
What Essential Oils Can Help Treat Cold Sores?
1.- Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. All of these are helpful when you need to treat a herpes. A review of the uses of tea tree oil for skin disorders found that it has a powerful antiviral effect on HSV.
You can apply diluted tea tree oil directly to your cold sore with a clean cotton swab, but be sure to dilute it with a milder “carrier” oil (like coconut oil or jojoba oil) so you don't hurt your skin. Don't use tea tree oil more than twice a day, or your skin could become irritated.
2.- Peppermint oil
Peppermint oil is another essential oil with the ability to kill a virus that has been activated.
A laboratory study on HSV showed that peppermint oil could soothe the symptoms of an activated strain of herpes, even strains that are resistant to other types of medications.
Apply diluted peppermint oil directly to the canker sore at the first sign for best results.
3.- Anise oil
Oil from the anise plant has been shown to help inhibit cold sore infections.
4.- Oil of oregano
Oil of oregano is one of the most popular home remedies for cold sores, and for good reason. In 1996, the effects of oregano oil on HSV were found to be considerable.
Rubbing the diluted oregano oil on the site of the canker sore with a sterile cotton pad can help decrease the size and inflammation of the canker sore. It will also help you heal it faster.
5.- Lemon balm oil.
According to a laboratory study, lemon balm oil has been found to inhibit the penetration of herpes virus cells in 96 percent of drug-resistant strains. More research is examining how lemon balm works on herpes-infected cells.
Since lemon balm oil can penetrate the skin layer and treat the herpes virus directly, you can apply the diluted oil directly on the canker sore up to four times per day.
6.- Thyme oil
Thyme oil is a powerful agent. Has antiviral effects on HSV, according to a laboratory study. Of course, if the virus trigger is still present, be it stress, fever, or prolonged exposure to the sun, the virus could reactivate even after treatment.
7.- Ginger oil
Components in ginger oil were found to reduce cold sore infection symptoms in a laboratory study.
Ginger oil feels warm on the skin and can soothe irritation from your cold sore. Applying the diluted mixture topically can help heal cold sore much faster. Consider mixing ginger oil with some of the other oils on this list in a carrier oil.
8.- Chamomile oil
One study found that chamomile oil is a very active antiviral agent against HSV. It has also been shown to help treat drug resistant strains.
Chamomile oil also soothes the skin when applied. The most effective way to use it is to apply the diluted chamomile oil directly to a canker sore as soon as you feel the ulcer form.
9.- Sandalwood oil
According to a laboratory study, sandalwood oil is known for its distinctive and powerful scent, but its components can also fight the cold sore virus.
Diluted sandalwood oil can be applied directly to a canker sore when it appears. The strong smell of sandalwood can be irritating to your nose, so mix it with one of the other oils on this list, as well as a carrier oil, if you decide to use this remedy.
10.- Eucalyptus oil
Cell structure tests performed in a laboratory revealed that eucalyptus oil could reduce the duration and severity of cold sores. Some people say that eucalyptus oil has a calming aroma and a soothing sensation on the skin when applied.
Always dilute eucalyptus oil well before applying and limit it to four applications per day.
Are there any risks in using essential oils to treat cold sores?
When using essential oils as a topical skin treatment, there are several things to keep in mind. Diluting the oils you use for the treatment with a non-abrasive carrier oil, such as coconut oil or jojoba oil, will help prevent the skin from becoming further inflamed by the mouth ulcer.
Overuse of essential oils on the skin can weaken the skin's epidermis and make it difficult to repair.
Make sure you don't have any allergies or sensitivities to the ingredients in your oils before using them. Screen any essential oil on another part of your skin before applying it to an open herpes.
Possible side effects from using essential oils to treat cold pain range from a mild stinging sensation to burning or bleeding at the site of infection. Stop using the oil treatment if at any time you feel like your skin is having a negative reaction.
Do some research on the brands and their quality, purity, and safety. You can also speak with a certified aromatherapist.