How Effective Is Tea Tree Oil for a Cold Sore?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 28 August 2014
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Tea tree oil has not been scientifically proven to be effective for getting rid of cold sores. Despite this, many people find this alternative treatment to help. It is difficult to predict how well the oil may work in a particular case, but some health experts assert that it cannot hurt and may help. While it is unlikely to get rid of a cold sore right away, it might help speed the healing process.

It is difficult to assess how effective tea tree oil is for healing a cold sore. Unlike traditional medications, there are few scientific studies that back up its effectiveness. Within the realm of alternative medicine, however, it is considered effective. It is important to note that tea tree oil probably won't get rid of a cold sore immediately upon use; it is more likely to speed up the natural healing process.

When used on cold sores, it's applied topically, usually with a moistened cotton ball or cotton swab. Several applications throughout the day may help speed healing even further. It is important, however, to keep an eye out for skin irritation. If the skin exhibits signs of sensitivity — like redness or slight swelling — the oil should either be diluted or not used at all.


Cold sores usually heal on their own within a week or two. Tea tree oil may dramatically shorten that healing time. For example, some people with cold sores have reported that their cold sores have healed within just a few days of treatment.

Some people also recommend using tea tree oil as a preventative measure rather than just to treat cold sores that have already formed. Regular use of a tea tree oil lip balm, for example, may be an effective prophylaxis. While such a product is not guaranteed to work, many people attest to its effectiveness.


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Post 9

Tea tree oil is the only thing that works to rapidly diminish my recurring cold sores.

Post 8

I get cold sores on a regular basis. I have noticed when using the tea tree oil it heals faster and reduces redness and swelling. Some people apply it mixed with other things but I just apply it straight. -- Bree

Post 7

I tried this for the first time on a cold sore I got two days ago. I found that it works best if you really rub it in there. I applied it several times a day.

I have also been using Argan Oil. I will apply Tea Tree Oil, allow it to soak in, then rub in the Argan Oil. The Argan Oil provides more of a lubricant so it doesn't crack open.

This was one of the worst cold sores I've had and it's almost completely healed.

Don't cheap out! Buy the good, pure, natural oils from a Whole Foods or similar store. It makes all the difference.

Post 6

Works great. Cheaper then Abrevex at $21.00 for a small small tube and heals faster.

Post 5

I concur. Even though I have zovirax and lysine kicking around, nothing works better for me than tea tree oil. It seems once I feel the tingle/red bump, forget it; it's coming no matter what I do, but if I apply tea tree oil often, it cuts the healing stages down and it's gone faster.

So by the second day the ulcer has already ruptured and by the third day it's already scabbing over. Everyone is different but this works for me. I haven't looked into the lip balm oil yet.

Post 4

I hate getting cold sores and it seems like they always come at the worst possible times. One time when I was scheduled to give a presentation in front of a large group of people, I found myself getting a cold sore.

I think stress is one thing that can bring these on, so it makes sense that I got one because I was really stressed about this.

I have been trying to find safer skin care products to use on my face and have made several changes in the last few months. Since I started using a lip balm that contains tea tree oil, I have not had one cold sore. I have also noticed that my lips seem softer and not as dry.

It would be hard for me to remember to apply the tea tree oil every day, but when it is already in the lip balm, I get the best of both.

Post 3

I have found two different essential oils that work on cold sores. Tea tree oil is one of them, and clove oil is the other one. Both of them are effective for me, but the tea tree oil is a little bit more mild.

The clove oil is a hot oil and really stings when you put it on. The tea tree oil doesn't sting and doesn't have a bad flavor to it.

I really enjoy using something like tea tree oil for one of my cold sore home remedies. I have found cold sores to be difficult to treat in the past. Just when you think it has cleared up, it comes back in a day or two.

If I use tea tree oil on a consistent basis, and continue to use it for a day or so after the cold sore has gone away, it doesn't come back again. I also feel better about using a natural product to treat something like this.

Post 2

I haven't had the best results using tea tree oil for a cold sore. A friend of mine recommended it to me when she said it helped her with her cold sores.

This was the first time I had ever used an essential oil for anything and I had high hopes it would be an effective cold sore treatment.

I did find that the tea tree oil worked for other things like insect bites and burns, but for me, it didn't seem to work any better than other products for my cold sore.

Post 1

If you have ever had a cold sore you know how annoying they can be. Whenever possible I like to use alternative remedies for problems, and using essential oils is one thing I have had good results with.

Tea tree oil is one of those that can be used for many things and I always keep a bottle of it on hand. I have found this to be an effective treatment for cold sores.

As soon as I see a cold sore coming on I start applying a few drops of the tea tree oil. Some people might mix this with a carrier oil like olive oil, but I apply it straight.

I do this several times a day until the cold sore has disappeared which usually takes 3-4 days. I have noticed when using the tea tree oil, the cold sore goes away faster, and also does not get as big.

It is nice to know I don't have to run to the store to buy a specific product to get rid of cold sores. I know I always have a bottle of tea tree oil around and know that it will work.

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