Cold sores, which are also called fever blisters, are a group of tiny and painful blisters that are caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). They typically form around the mouth or genitals as blisters filled with fluid and can be very uncomfortable, irritating, and embarrassing.
HSV is of two variants. The first is HSV-1 which is orally transmitted through kissing and sharing utensils such as cutleries and toothbrushes. The second is HSV-2 which affects the genitals and is sexually transmitted.
Normally, after an outbreak of cold sores, your body should develop antibodies that should prevent another infection but factors like stress, hormonal changes, or sunlight can trigger a return of the virus. There is no cure for HSV but the sores and blisters heal over time.
While there are over the counter drugs that claim to treat the associated pain and inflammation of cold sores, organic compounds such as those contained in essential oils have been found to be effective in relieving the symptoms of fever blisters. They have lower risks of side effects when compared to over the counter cold store treatments and for strains of HSV that are resistant to drugs, they can be effective.
What are Essential Oils and How Do they Work?
These are compounds that are extracted from potentially beneficial plants. They are concentrated with significant levels of active ingredients and they capture the scent, essence, and flavor of a plant. Every essential oil has its unique aroma and can be extracted from their host plants using various methods. These can include distillation using steam or water and mechanical methods like cold pressing. After extraction, carrier oils may be incorporated to get a product that is ready for use.
Essential oils are very concentrated and are therefore typically not meant to be consumed orally. They are usually inhaled via diffusers during aromatherapy sessions or applied topically on the skin. When applying them directly to the skin, they must be diluted with a suitable carrier oil and not left in its concentrated form.
The compounds and chemicals contained in them interact with the body in different ways. When applied to the skin, these chemicals are absorbed and can help calm and relax the nerves. Inhalation stimulates areas of the limbic system, a part of the brain that is responsible for sense of smell, behavior, emotions and long-term memory.
You can learn more about essential oils here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326732.
Cold Sores and Essential Oils
Essential oils are effective for relief from pain and inflammation caused by cold sores because of their therapeutic, medicinal, and immune-boosting characteristics. By using them, you can find relief from cold sore symptoms such as soreness, tingling, blisters, redness, rashes, and burning sensation.
The best essential oils to help with this are those with therapeutic effects and those that have characteristics that include:
- Anti-viral properties
- Immune system support
- Antibacterial properties
- Anti-inflammatory properties.
Some that fall into these categories include:
Tea tree can be helpful in the treatment of cold sores as it has antiseptic, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps reduce the growth of the sores. To use tea tree, you need to dilute it with a carrier oil like coconut or jojoba to avoid hurting your skin. You can apply it a maximum of twice daily using clean cotton swabs.
Peppermint has the ability to inhibit the activity of both HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses and therefore can be used for treating cold sores. To get the best results, you should apply diluted peppermint directly on the sore at the first sign or appearance.
Lavender is useful for skin irritation and bruises and it also helps to relieve the pain associated with cold sores. It has a calming and appealing scent and as with most essential oils, it is important to dilute it to avoid skin irritation. Lavender does not have any effect on HSV but it will help reduce the pain and inflammation.
Eucalyptus has anti-inflammatory properties and will help to reduce the duration as well as the severity of cold stores. It is said to have a calming and soothing effect when applied to the skin. You should also dilute before applying it.
Others to consider include: chamomile, oregano, lemon balm, ginger, sandalwood, etc. You can read more here if you still need more information on the subject.
Cold sores from herpes can be irritating, painful, and annoying but there are a variety of essential oils that can be used to relieve you of these associated symptoms. Always ensure you dilute them appropriately before use. When using any essential oil, you can perform a patch test to see how your skin reacts to it. You can also consult with your physician for advice and recommended treatment.