Most cold sores are caused by HSV-1, also known as Herpes Simplex Virus. Research shows that about two thirds of adults have suffered from coldsores at some stage.
Cold sores caused by HSV-1 usually last little over a week and then clear up on their own. There's currently no cure, and infections are lifelong. However there are ways to decrease the length, intensity, and frequency of outbreaks.
There are many prescribed treatments for cold sores include anti-viral tablets and creams, but most are only effective if they are used at the very sign of the coldsore appearing.
One natural and alternative way is Tea Tree Essential Oil, also known as Melaleuca, which is one of the most popular and effective alternative remedies for treating cold sores. It can reduce the lifespan of a cold sore to only one or two days, when normally coldsores can take weeks to heal. The oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and it quickly dries out the coldsore so it becomes smaller and much less noticeable.
Tea Tree Oil works the most effectively when applied during the first stages of the coldsore before the sore has dried out. To apply it directly to your coldsore, place one or two drops of the oil on a cotton swab or a damp cotton ball. Dab it gently on the coldsore and repeat until it’s cleared up. To prevent the virus from spreading, make sure you dispose of the cotton immediately, and avoid touching it to another part of your mouth or skin.
The oil can be applied undiluted at full strength, but if you have sensitive skin or if the undiluted oil feels too strong, you can create a mixture of one part oil and one part water. You can also make a Tea Tree Oil lotion to apply to the coldsore by mixing three drops of tea tree oil and one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Avoid using this lotion, though, if the skin on or around the coldsore is broken.
If you’re concerned about the Tea Tree Oil drying out your skin, you can create a mixture of Tea Tree Oil and coconut oil and apply it to the coldsore with a cotton swab or cotton ball. You can also keep your lips moisturised by frequently applying lip balm.