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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.