Anyone who has had a cold sore knows what a curse they are. Over 80% of the population is infected with HSV-1, the oral herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores. Some people suffer from more than one outbreak per month. There are many commercial treatments marketed as cold sore remedies. Yet, few of those work. Many only slightly improve the condition. By using a simple natural remedy, tea tree oil from the Australian Tea Tree, melaleuca alternifolia, you can dramatically reduce both the duration and discomfort of a cold sore. Tea tree oil is antiviral and antibacterial. This makes it the ideal remedy for this tough to treat problem.
Purchase the tea tree oil of your choice. Most health food stores, drugstores and large discount chains carry this item. Tea tree oil is also widely available online. Most brands are of sufficient quality for treating a cold sore. Tea tree oil usually comes in a small brown apothecary style bottle, and it is located in the health and beauty or pharmacy section of the store.
Apply tea tree oil to the area with a cotton swab at the first sign of a tingling or itching sensation. The oil can be used at full-strength. However, if you have sensitive skin you should dilute it at one part water, one part tea tree oil. There will be a strong scent of eucalyptus because the tea tree is in the same plant family.
Reapply tea tree oil to the outbreak several times a day. Apply just before bed until the scabs disappear and new skin grows in. Doing so can reduce the duration and severity of a cold sore outbreak to as little as one to two days each of swelling, ulceration and scabbing. Keep in mind the normal course of a cold sore which can take up to two weeks to completely heal.
Remove the loose, crusty material which forms during the ulcerating stage of the cold sore. Do this by patting or rubbing gently with a damp washcloth. Reapply tea tree oil after doing so, in order to help the area dry up quickly.
Keep your lips moist with lip balm during the course of treatment, as tea tree oil can be drying to the healthy parts of the mouth. Give the area of the outbreak plenty of time to dry out without being coated in lip balm. Everything in moderation. Occasional application of lip balm to the outbreak will not hinder its healing.
Use tea tree oil lip balm on a regular basis to prevent future outbreaks. Taking Vitamin C, Lysine tablets and getting enough sleep will also help with avoiding cold sore episodes.
Be patient. It does work!
Use tea tree oil externally only. It is toxic to both humans and pets when you ingest it.
Misha Safranski is a Michigan-based writer. Specializing in topics related to pregnancy and childbirth, she has been writing for various online publications since 2008. Safranski studied journalism and communications at Macomb Community College.