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How Do I Use Tea Tree Oil for Herpes?

Meshell Powell
Meshell Powell

There are a couple of different ways in which you can use tea tree oil for herpes, but there are three methods that are usually considered the most common. Many people apply the oil directly to the outbreaks, usually with a cotton swab; suspending the oil in olive or vitamin E oils is also popular, particularly if you’ve never used tea tree oil on your skin before or you’re worried about a reaction or sensitivity. You can also dilute the oil in a warm bath or use it in conjunction with a hot compress on the affected areas. In most cases you’ll want to put the oil directly on your outbreak, since it doesn’t tend to be as effective ingested as it is topically. It’s important to realize that the oil can’t actually cure your herpes, no matter how effective it is at reducing outbreaks and discomfort. As such, you’ll still need to exercise caution to avoid spreading the disease to others.

Tea Tree Oil Basics

Tea tree oil may be added to a warm bath to help heal sores associated with herpes.
Tea tree oil may be added to a warm bath to help heal sores associated with herpes.

Tea tree oil comes from the bark and leaves of the tea tree plant, which is native to Australia and New Zealand. It is a well-known antiseptic and can help alleviate a number of skin irritations and aggravations. People use it to treat both oral and genital herpes, though the success rate is often dependent on things like strength of the initial infection and individual biological differences.

Tea tree oil may cause skin irritation.
Tea tree oil may cause skin irritation.

The herpes virus can be somewhat complicated, but in general it comes in two forms: herpes simplex, which is responsible for things like cold sores and skin irritations in and around the mouth, and genital herpes, a sexually transmitted disease that leaves open sores and itchy rashes on the genitals. Both are quite contagious, but in different ways and at different strengths. Tea tree oil can often help with the outbreaks of each, though.

Direct Application

A blister caused by herpes type 1.
A blister caused by herpes type 1.

One of the easiest ways to use tea tree oil for herpes is to use a cotton swab to directly apply the oil to the affected area. Tea tree oil can be harsh on the skin and is prone to causing skin irritation if used without dilution, so it’s often best to start slow. Genital lesions may be especially prone to becoming irritated, so it is best to treat one lesion to see how the skin reacts before applying the oil to multiple areas.

Dilution and Common Mixtures

Tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil.

It is relatively easy to create a diluted mixture of tea tree oil, and several types of formulations are possible. Trying a dilution might be best for you if you have sensitive skin or if a quick test of direct application caused more aggravation than it cured. The simplest solution involves little more than oil and water; you can usually mix these together in a dish or bowl, then use a small dropper or damp cloth to apply the solution to your skin.

Tea tree oil can be dabbed on oral herpes lesions with a cotton swap.
Tea tree oil can be dabbed on oral herpes lesions with a cotton swap.

Many people also have good luck using what’s known as a “carrier oil,” basically another, gentler oil that can help transfer the tea tree oil and can improve its absorption into the skin. Breaking open a vitamin E capsule is one popular method, as is mixing in a bit of olive or almond oil.


You can also use the oil in a warm bath or in conjunction with a warm compress. Soaking the lesions can often help them heal faster since the warmth of the bath or the compress can cause the skin’s pores to open and be more receptive to healing and oil absorption. Getting good results often requires pretty high concentrations of the oil in your water, and you’ll usually need at least 20 minutes of soaking time.

Common Precautions

There is no reliable scientific evidence supporting the use of tea tree oil for herpes, and in most places it’s considered to be something of a home remedy or “alternative” approach. Oils aren’t usually regulated by government oversight agencies the way medications and pharmaceutical drugs are, so there can be differences when it comes to purity and strength.

As effective as the oil may be at containing your outbreaks, it isn’t able to solve them or cure them at their root, and it won’t be able to prevent you from infecting others. The condition will remain contagious, and proper precautions should be used to prevent the spread of the disease. Most medical experts recommend that the oil be used only in conjunction with other medical advice and treatment.

How To Combine Essential Oils With Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is not the only essential oil that can mitigate herpes symptoms. Combining tea tree oil with some of the following products may provide added benefits to your treatment regimen:

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. While not shown to be an effective remedy for herpes, lavender oil can reduce inflammation and itching when combined with tea tree oil.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint oil has antiviral and antibacterial properties. The menthol in the oil will help keep you moisturized and prevent sores from splitting or cracking.

Oregano Oil

Carvacrol, the active ingredient in oregano, has been shown to reduce surface transmission of certain viruses like herpes, but it does not affect the virus inside the body. Although it does not impact how the virus replicates, it can be helpful in combination with tea tree oil.

Clove Oil

Diluted clove oil can act as a topical anesthetic to reduce pain caused by cold sores. Clove oil also has antimicrobial properties that may help fight the virus.

Cinnamon Oil

Cinnamon oil has antiviral properties. A small study from 2007 found that a cream containing cinnamon oil effectively reduced symptoms of HSV-2. Cinnamon oil is powerful, but a diluted preparation could be decisive when paired with tea tree oil.

Star Anise Oil

This oil is effective at temporarily stopping the activity of the herpes virus and the development of cold sores. This oil also has soothing effects on the skin.

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus oil has both antiviral and antibacterial properties. A small study from 2002 found that eucalyptus oil effectively reduced symptoms of HSV-2 by preventing a full-blown outbreak.

Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood oil can prevent the herpes virus from replicating by rendering it inactive. Sandalwood oil also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Chamomile Oil

Chamomile works to stop the herpes virus from entering cells. This process works differently than the process seen with antiviral medication. Chamomile also has anti-inflammatory effects.

Lemon Balm Oil

Lemon balm works fast if applied at the first sign of an outbreak. Studies report that cold sore development stops upon regular application of this oil.

Basil Oil

Basil oil works by inhibiting the virus from attaching to and entering cells. This essential oil is also a powerful antioxidant.

Cypress Oil

Cypress oil has astringent, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties that can fight bacterial infections, fungi, and viruses. Cypress oil can also help to heal wounds and reduce inflammation.

Aloe Vera and Tea Tree Oil

Combining aloe vera and tea tree oil can help soothe the skin and speed healing. Aloe vera has antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. When combined with tea tree oil, this dynamic duo can help dry out lesions, reduce pain, and speed up healing time.

Aloe vera dilutes the concentration of tea tree oil and should be used in a 1:1 ratio. This will prevent skin problems related to using tea tree oil undiluted.

What Are Some Tea Tree Oil Products?

Essential oils are potent and can cause skin problems if not adequately diluted. Using a product that already contains tea tree oil can help prevent skin irritation while still offering benefits in mitigating herpes outbreaks. Make sure to choose a product with at least 5% tea tree oil. 

Tea tree oil works well in body wash when combined with peppermint oil. This pairing is an effective way to obtain benefits from these oils in a healthy concentration for the skin.

Tea tree balm is excellent for soothing cold sores. This product can be applied directly to the sore to relieve itching, burning, and cracking.

Hand sanitizer that contains tea tree oil can help prevent the spread of HSV-1. This is especially important when you cannot wash your hands regularly.

Lip balm that contains tea tree oil can help relieve the symptoms of cold sores while also providing a barrier to prevent the spread of the virus.

Spot treatment paste is a tea tree oil product often used for treating acne, but it can also work to slow herpes outbreaks. Apply it to any area where a sore is developing.

As you can see, there's no shortage of options when it comes to tee tea products for herpes. Pick the ones that best suit you to mitigate the symptoms of this annoying virus!

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Discussion Comments


i can't tell you how much this has helped! I mixed a couple of drops of pure tea tree with some lukewarm water and dabbed over my sores. The immediate relief almost brought me to tears! still slight itching but no where near as much as before and the pain has subsided. will keep trying this!

On another note, I find these communities so helpful. The stigma around herpes is humiliating but knowing how truly common it is has really helped me!


Myrrh tincture can be effective against Herpes. Look it up.


Herpes is such an annoying disease. The worst thing (apart from the pain, of course) is the stigma. I mean, it's pretty common and it has been for years and years (the tea tree oil treatment has been around for centuries at least) and still people will be awkward about having it or will try to hide it.

I wish they would find a proper cure for it so people could stop messing around with stuff that only makes it a little bit easier to handle.


@Ana1234 - That is definitely true. The last thing you want to do is put a very strong tea tree mixture on an open sore, particularly on the genitals which are already pretty sensitive to topical mixtures.

Personally, I'd rather leave all the mixing to the professionals though and just buy a cream with tea tree in it that's specifically for herpes, so I get all the modern benefits as well as the tea tree oil and whatever else.


Tea tree oil is just a really good thing to have around the house anyway, but you really have to make sure that you get a good quality essence and a good quality oil (or, if you prefer, a good quality pre-made mixture).

Essences often see like they are extremely expensive, but a small amount will last a long time. And I would beware of the cheap versions, because they are almost certainly cut with something, or have been made poorly.

Also, be sure to follow whatever recipe you're using carefully, because tea tree oil can really hurt if you apply it when it hasn't been diluted enough. Make sure you learn enough about its properties before trying to make up your own recipes as well, so you can understand when to use it and how to apply it properly.

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