Cold Sores: How To Treat Them

Cold Sores: How To Treat Them

Cold sores are nasty! They hurt, they look bad, they always show up at the absolute worst time. And why do they do that?  “Cold sores are caused by the Herpes simplex 1 virus, and tend to appear when you are rundown or having a cold or other infection.” (3)

Cold-Sore-Stages“Usually a herpes outbreak is a signal that you’re “stressing,” so lighten your load. Don’t add to it.” (6)

So how do you treat them? The main thing to remember is that cold sores are caused by a virus. As such, you need to help your immune system so you can fight them off quickly and hopefully prevent them from coming again. So get enough sleep, proper nutrition and watch your stress load.

One great way to boost your immune system is to take the Rocky Mountain Oil Defense supplement. This supplement contains Black Cumin, Stabilized Rice Bran, Muscadine Grape, Tsi-Ahga, and Heart of Garlic.

Also, you can diffuse oils meant to help your immune system like Immune Strength, Lavender, Tea Tree, etc.

Treatment Recommendations

I found a variety of recommendations from some of my books and have listed them below with their references.


Rosemary Gladstar's Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family by Rosemary GladstarThe most information I found was from Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health: 175 Teas, Tonics, Oils, Salves, Tinctures, and Other Natural Remedies for the Entire Family by Rosemary Gladstar. If you don’t already have this book, I highly recommend it.

Heading off an outbreak
  • Support your nervous system. Pay attention to nervous system signals.
  • Drink several cups a day of bitter teas that are cooling to the liver; such as Oregon Grape Root, Dandelion Root, and Yellow Dock Root. The will help fight off the infection and alkalize the system.
  • Incorporate Reishi, Maitake, and Shiitake mushrooms into your diet. They are indicated for viral infections and help support the immune system.
  • Take Echinacea tincture (1/4 teaspoon 2 – 3 times a day, 5 days a week) for 3 months to build and strengthen the immune health.
  • Supplement diet with 500 mg of Lysine daily for 3 months.
Treating an outbreak
  • Watch your diet. Avoid all sugars and sweet foods, especially chocolate. Also avoid foods high in arginine; which include peanuts, peanut butter, and chocolate. Eat foods rich in Calcium and B vitamins. Add Lysine rich foods such as nutritional yeast, eggs, milk, and beans. Can take 500 mg tablets of Lysine during outbreak but don’t continue for longer than a few days. Support immune system by taking 1/4 teaspoon of Echinecea tincture every hour during the day. Support your nervous system by drinking nervine flowers throughout outbreak: Passionflower, Skullcap, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, and Lavender.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Take Lysine supplements, or eat a lysine-rich diet, and support your immune system with Echinecea. You can treat the sores with ice, several times a day, also Aloe Vera gel brings a cooling relief and helps dry up blisters.
coldsoreblisterTreating the Affected Area
  • Ice: Apply ice to the lesion several times a day.
  • Aloe: Aloe Vera gel brings cooling relief and helps dry up the blisters. Apply several times a day.
  • Antiviral herbs: Apply tincture of Licorice Root — a superb antiviral herb — to the area. Other herbs and oils: Lemon Balm oil, Tea Tree oil, Bergamot oil, and St. John’s Wort.
Kloss’s Liniment
  • 1 ounce Echinecea powder
  • 1 ounce organically grown Goldenseal powder
  • 1 ounce Myrrh powder
  • 1/4 ounce Cayenne powder
  • 1 pint rubbing alcohol

Place powders in a jar and cover with rubbing alcohol (a food grade alcohol can be used, but rubbing alcohol seems to work best), leaving a good 2 inch margin above the herbs. Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place mixture in a warm location and let sit for 4 weeks. Strain and rebottle. Label the bottle clearly FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY.

For use on cold sores, add Lemon Balm essential oil and Licorice Root tincture for added antiviral effect.


The Aromatherapy Bible: The Definitive Guide to Using Essential Oils, by Gill Farrer-HallsIn The Aromatherapy Bible: The Definitive Guide to Using Essential Oils by Gill Farrer-Halls, There are these recommendations:

  • At first sign of a cold sore, use a mixture of 2 drops each of Bergamot and Lavender and 1 drop  each of Eucalyptus citriodora and Tea Tree, diluted in 1 teaspoon of Vodka. Dab this on the cold sore frequently until it disappears.
  •  If the blister develops and becomes painful, alternate neat Lavender (applied with a cotton swab) and the alcohol mixture,


The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann WorwoodThe Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood is another book that should be in everyone’s essential oil library. She recommends the following:

For Cold Sores: 1 drop of Geranium oil on the sore

Then massage the whole body with the following:

  • 5 drops Geranium
  • 5 drops Lavender
  • 1 drop Thyme
  • 4 drops Lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon carrier oil.

Another recipe:

coping-with-cold-sores-s10-woman-applying-herpes-medicationFor Cold Sores Around the Lips
  • 8 drops Geranium
  • 3 drops Lemon
  • 6 drops German Chamomile
  • 8 drops Tea Tree
  • 5 drops Lavender
  • Protective lip gloss base (recipe below)

Mix essential oils together then add 20 drops to the lip gloss base and use 3 times per day. Alternatively, dip a cotton ball in water, add 1 drop of the essential oil formula onto cotton and apply to cold sore once a day.

Protective Lip Gloss Base
  • 1 ounce white beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons Sweet Almond oil
  • 10 drops Jojoba
  • 5 drops Carrot Seed oil
  • 1 capsule Vitamin E (1 capsule = 250 IUs)

Using the Bain-Marie method, melt the beeswax  and then add the almond oil, stirring all the time. Then add Jojoba oil, Carrot Seed oil and Vitamin E and stir again. Finally, mix in 10 drops of essential oils chosen from list below. (Or add 20 drops of Cold Sore blend)

Geranium, Palmarosa, Lavender, Lemon, German Chamomile.


More Recipes

Here are a couple more recipes for treating your cold sores.

(*I will add to this article from time to time as I find more in my research as well as suggestions from other people. So check in periodically to see if there is anything new.)

treat-a-cold-sore-1Herpes Formula

  • 4 drops Eucalyptus Citriodora
  • 4 drops Niaouli
  • 1 drop Geranium
  • 2 drops Tea Tree
  • 2 drops Bergamot
  • 1 ounce carrier oil (Calendula-infused oil is best but not required)

Combine ingredients. Apply to affected area 2 – 3 times a day. (4)

Cold Sore Balm

  • 1 1/2 cups Lemon Balm leaves
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Wheat Germ Oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon beeswax
  • 5 drops Tea Tree
  • 5 drops Peppermint

Strip leaves off the stems and place in a small saucepan with the Olive and Wheat Germ oils. Warm over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Pour the oil back into the saucepan and add the honey and beeswax. Stir until the beeswax has melted. Remove from the heat. Stir in the essential oils and pour formula into 1 oz, dark glass bottle or tin.

Use liberally on and around the cold sore. Yields approximately 11 ounces of balm. Can be stored for 1 year in a dark, cool cupboard. (5)

Other suggestions

Here is what our RMO family members are saying about it on facebook:

  • COO: “We always put Geranium on my husband’s cold sores. Just put a few drops on a cottonball and just hold it on his cold sore for about 1 minute.”
  • CM: “Tea Tree or Lavender, maybe even Frankincense. Or even Immune Strength.”
  • Woman pouring oilLAS: “Tea Tree oil, neat. It burns like the dickens but it does the job.”
  • JMB: “Melissa and a lot of l-lysine.”
  • LV: “Careful with the Melissa – my husband tried it once and it got HUGE.”
  • MR: “This may sound random and I’m not sure if it will work. But I find using mouthwash helps because it dries it out. So maybe using an oil that is peppermint or any kind of minty oil may help.”
  • RJS: “Immune Strength oil directly on it with Lavender.”
  • EC: “Lysine most definitely and Bergamot oil, neat.”
  • MBC: ” I second the Lysine recommendation. Take often and use anti-viral oils paired with coconut oil.”
  • TL: “Ravintsara.”
  • LA: “Geranium: Won’t burn and is very effective.”
  • JW: “Geranium, Lemon, Chamomile, Tea Tree and Lavender. My daughter had a severe case of cold sores all in her mouth and down her throat. I used the above essential oils mixed with water and a bit of salt. She swished this and it was instant relief. I then mixed the oils in an Avocado oil base and had her apply frequently. Also had her drink as much Chamomile tea as she could. The cold sores went away pretty quickly after that.”

Good luck in your treatment! Please let us know how they work for you, and what things you like to do, in the comment section down below. Thanks!



  1. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy & Herbalism by Julia Lawless
  2. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood
  3. The Aromatherapy Bible: The Definitive Guide to Using Essential Oils by Gill Farrer-Halls
  4. Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art, 2nd edition, by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green
  5. Do It Gorgeously: How To Make Less Toxic, Less Expensive, and More Beautiful Products, by Sophie Uliano




About JC Shannon

I am a writer. I was first introduced to this world of natural health in 2005 when I was asked to write an article about using essential oils. Since I like to know what I'm writing about before I do it, I immersed myself in the essential oil and aromatherapy world and found I prefer it. I never left it. In a quest to educate myself and others in more alternative and safer ways to make our world a better place, I am always looking for good information to share.

I like lavender for any skin irritations, including cold sores.  Tea tree works well also, but if you get any in your mouth it tastes terrible. What on earth would I do without lavender and tea tree?   I'm going to take the suggestions of others here and try bergamot next time also.

JCShannon moderator

 @PaBrad I agree. Lavender and Tea Tree are definitely oils no one should ever be without! Good luck with your treatment and keep us updated on how it goes for you! 


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  2. […] are not to be used for cold sores. There is an article already written dealing with treating cold sores and you can refer to […]