Essential Oils For Cold Sores
A cold sore can be a particularly unpleasant thing to have to live with. Not only do they feel very uncomfortable but they’re also highly unsightly and contagious. Technically known as ‘oral herpes’, this is a permanent condition caused by the herpes simplex virus. This is a viral disease that lives in the cells and often remains dormant for long periods, suppressed by the immune system until outbreaks occur during times of lowered immunity. Thus they are more likely to show up during times of stress, or when you’re fighting other illnesses like colds or infections.
Another unpleasant aspect of a cold sore is that it is highly contagious. This means that if you should kiss someone while you are having an outbreak – or even if you share the same glass – you can pass the infection to them and they will then have to live with it for the rest of their lives too! In short, this is a highly frustrating problem and one that you’ll want to deal with as efficiently as possible.
The bad news? There is no cure. The good news? You can reduce the symptoms of a cold sore and make it less painful, as well as reducing the severity and regularity of outbreaks. And one great way to do both those things is by using a number of essential oils. Read on to see how this works and which ones you should consider using…
Essential Oils for Fighting Outbreaks
While you can’t completely get rid of essential oils, something you can do is to reduce the likelihood of an outbreak.
And one of the very best essential oils for this purpose is lemon oil. There are a number of things that make lemon oil so effective at preventing outbreaks. For starters, this oil is high in vitamin C. That means that it can directly strengthen the immune system and thereby help you to suppress the virus as well as to fend off outside attacks from other bugs.
At the same time, lemon oil also has the strong advantage of helping to produce more serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is what is often referred to as the ‘feel good hormone’. This is what gets released when you eat a satisfying meal, or when you exercise, or when you have good time with friends. In all these cases, the brain creates more of this chemical and you feel uplifted as a result.
So what is the benefit of this? Of course it helps you to feel more relaxed which helps to combat stress. This is very good news, seeing as stress is actually one of the most serious problems when it comes to damaging your immune system. Your job is to keep stress at bay if you want to ensure you will be able to fend off illnesses. While you might not have the luxury of being able to completely avoid stress at work, you can nevertheless come home and use a little lemon oil in order to help deal with that stress in a healthy way! Lemon oil can be rubbed directly onto cold sores, or can be mixed with some water to make a hot beverage.
One more useful pointer is to consider using valerian root oil. This isn’t specifically a treatment for cold sores but it can be used in that way thanks to a ‘knock on effect’. You see, valerian root is an essential oil that can help you to sleep more easily. This is possible because the oil encourages the increased release of another neurotransmitter/hormone called GABA. This is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which means its main action is to suppress the action of neurons firing in the brain. This way, it is able to reduce brain activity and that makes it a powerful sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety chemical). Thus, GABA and valerian root are not only able to help you sleep better but can also help you to be less anxious – and both these things can have powerfully beneficial effects for your immune system!
Topical Application for Cold Sores
But what if you are currently experiencing an outbreak? Well in that case, there are a number of different options for essential oils that can help to reduce the red and angry appearance of the blisters, nourish the skin and encourage a rapid recovery.
Specifically, lemon oil is actually once again very useful – so this is worth keeping around! Also helpful is tea tree oil. This has been shown in a number of studies to be highly beneficial for a large number of skin complaints and is often used to address acne among other things. Tea tree oil is antimicrobial and antifungal – but what we’re interested in is the fact that it is anti-inflammatory and very soothing to the skin.
Here is a simple recipe you can make using tea tree oil and coconut oil:
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons of honey
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- 20 drops of tea tree oil
- 2 capsules of live probiotics
Another great essential oil that can be used directly on the skin on and around cold sores is lavender oil. Lavender oil is a particularly popular essential oil owing to its pleasant smell and wide range of different benefits. Lavender oil can be rubbed directly to the skin and this will help to remove dead skin cells while at the same time helping to ease the discomfort by providing its analgesic properties. If that weren’t enough, lavender oil is an antioxidant which can combat free radicals. This means that it can help to prevent reactions that destroy skin cells and at the same time helps to support the immune system. And we know what that means by this point: fewer outbreaks!
Another very good choice for a wide range of skin complaints is juniper berry oil. This is an oil that is highly effective in treating acne again – though this is also likely to be useful for helping you to quickly get rid of or at least reduce the unsightly appearance of cold sores! Juniper berry was shown to be an effective treatment for acne in a study published in 2005 in Pharmaceutical Development and Technology. This is because it contains something called alpha-pinene, as well as p-cymene and beta-pinene. These are substances that you find in high-end skin products but by buying the essential oils they come from directly you can save a lot of money and avoid the unnatural and unpleasant additives!
Finally, consider using clary sage oil. This contains a number of esters including linayl acetate – a powerful anti-inflammatory that is particularly effective when used to treat the skin. It also helps to prevent various breakouts and to manage sebum. Again, this also has the added advantage of being good for improving the mood by raising levels of another hormone – this time oxytocin. Yes – that’s the ‘love hormone’ that we produce when we see our children for the first time and when we eat chocolate!
To use these oils, simply apply a little to two fingers and then massage into the area very gently using a circular motion. You can also rub around the rest of the skin. You can leave the oil on overnight, or alternatively leave it to soak for 10 minutes before washing off. Note that some oils on this list are quite strong and may not be diluted. Always consult with the packaging that your oils came in and when necessary, be sure to add some carrier oil to prevent them being too harsh directly on your skin!
None of these things will help you to permanently rid yourself of cold sores. However, essential oils can be very beneficial in combating them when they do arise and in preventing them from showing up too often. And as a nice added bonus, all of these oils provide numerous additional benefits by improving the mood, reducing stress, aiding sleep and providing nutrition and support for the immune system.