Cold sore outbreaks can be a pain and a hassle whenever they happen. However, it’s something that can’t be helped sometimes. Most people, children and adults alike, experience it.
Although cold sores are common, it’s still a mixture of annoyance and discomfort. For some people, it happens only once, but for others, it’s something that comes back to haunt them every once in a while.
Before figuring out how essential oils even treat cold sores, let’s first dive into knowing what cold sores are.
What Is a Cold Sore and Why They Occur
Cold sore or fever blister is a group of tiny blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It’s usually painful and most likely to appear outside the mouth and lips, sometimes even on the nose and cheek. Symptoms of cold sores are most severe the first time they appear. In children, experiencing cold sores can cause them to be severely ill.
During cold sore outbreaks, common symptoms orbserved are fever, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. It may actually take some time before the cold sores appear after infection with HSV. Different factors trigger cold sores. These include food, stress, fever, colds, allergies, fatigue, sunburn, dental work, and menstruation for women.
There is no cure for cold sores as the virus stays in the body after entry. However, the sores heal on their own in about 1-2 weeks. Despite this, doctors may prescribe antiviral medications to speed up the cold sore healing process.
How Do I Use Essential Oils for Cold Sores?
As mentioned in the previous section, cold sores are incurable. Likewise, it is helpful to realize early on that using essential oils for cold sores may only help alleviate the discomfort and pain associated with HSV.
Knowing how essential oils work helps in understanding how they can ease the pain that comes with cold sores. Essential oils are plant oil extracts that contain concentrated compounds. These oils have become a natural treatment for various ailments and health conditions.
Although considered a natural treatment, its effectiveness in many illnesses is arguable. After all, it’s always best to consult your doctor if anything is wrong. On the other hand, choosing the right essential oil for your condition entails some caution.
One must take note of the quality and price range when considering essential oils. Most essential oils have therapeutic and anti-inflammatory qualities. Regardless of such attributes, they could only offer momentary relief and aid in easing cold sore pain as it heals.
5 Essential Oil for Cold Sore
A wide range of essential oils shares common properties as therapeutic agents and anti-inflammatory. However, some of them are much more effective than others. Check them out below:
1. Eucalyptus essential oil
Eucalyptus oil possesses both antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps reduce the effects of cold sores as well as aid in the healing of the sores. It’s best to mix eucalyptus oil with a carrier oil before application to avoid irritation. Dab on the affected cold sore no more than four times daily while the problem persists.
Apart from acting as a topical treatment for cold sores, eucalyptus oil is a natural cold remedy.
2. Peppermint Oil
One of the most widely used treatments for cold sores is peppermint oil. It is proven to help reduce viral activity, most likely attributed to its antiseptic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.
When using peppermint oil, keep in mind to dilute it before applying it to the affected area. Do this about 3-4 times daily when needed. Other uses of peppermint oil include treating irritable bowel syndrome, common cold, sinus infections, headaches, and other digestive problems.
3. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil also has some antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. According to some studies, it is actually linked to significant reductions in the viral activity of HSV. To reduce skin irritation, dilute this with a carrier oil before applying it to the affected area. However, this shouldn’t be used more than twice a day.
Tea tree oil is also commonly used to treat acne, athlete’s foot, contact dermatitis, and head lice.
Read more: How to Deodorize Shoes Using Tea Tree Oil
4. Roman Chamomile Oil
Some studies have reported roman chamomile oil as a potential treatment specific for drug-resistant strains of the herpes virus. However, its efficacy in treating cold sores as a standalone medication is debatable.
It’s easily one of the few essential oils that don’t require prior dilution before application. It has a soothing effect when directly applied to the affected area as soon as the oil sets in. Some other uses of chamomile oil include applications in skin care, helping promote sleep, and alleviating anxiety.
Read more: How to Use Brain Relief for Anxiety Relief
5. Thyme Oil
Thyme oil has also been reported to have general viral activity reduction, which may especially be effective against cold sores. However, like most essential oils, it’s important to dilute thyme oil before application to the affected area.
Besides treating cold sores, thyme oil is antibacterial and promotes skin and teeth health. It’s also commonly used as a bug repellant.
Cold Sore Foods That Will Make Your Symptoms Worse
Constantly haunted by recurring cold sores might make you consider why it happens. One common reason is that you’re eating food that usually causes cold sore outbreaks.
There are three types of food you should steer away from. You might need extra care if you’re prone to cold sores. Know more about these trigger foods below:
Acidic food can irritate cold sore scabs when they reopen. This may prolong the duration of the discomfort and pain from these blisters.
HSV, the culprit behind cold sores, requires arginine to replicate and thrive inside the body. So, naturally, depriving the virus of its means to replicate shortens the duration of the outbreak. However, it also ensures that it doesn’t happen again soon.
Examples of arginine-rich food you should avoid include flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chocolate, spinach, whole grains, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, and walnuts.
Processed foods like sweet breakfast cereals, packaged snacks, and frozen and canned foods weaken your immune system. A compromised immune system during a cold sore outbreak may lead to an immediate reoccurrence of cold sores.
Why is it Important to Treat your Cold Sore as Soon as Possible?
Essential oils are nothing more than another home remedy for cold sores. Home remedies don’t do anything else other than help you feel better while your sores heal on their own. Such momentary relief includes cold compresses, pain medicine, cream painkillers, alcohol treatments, lip balms, and creams.
Cold sore infection often occurs between 7-20 days at most. These blisters usually appear on spots where the virus enters the body. But how does HSV spread? People can catch HSV by coming into contact with people or things that carry the said virus.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that touching someone who has it also makes you contract the virus. However, close contact with the affected area ensures infection. There are two types of the virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2, wherein both can cause genital sores, which can spread by oral sex.
Although it is rare, a cold sore can have complications. In addition, the spread of HSV on other body parts such as fingers, genitals, eyes, brain, and spinal cord can cause complications. So, it’s essential to address the issue immediately before it worsens.
Cold sores are uncomfortable and painful to experience. So no matter how soothing these essential oils are, nothing beats checking in with your doctor. While essential oils have many antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and therapeutic effects, they shouldn’t be viewed as replacements to prescribe antiviral drugs.
However, they are certainly worth keeping tabs on as their properties are promising. Until then, always exercise caution and responsibility when using such oils.
Do you find articles on essential oils interesting? Follow us for more content like this! #Explore