Does using tea tree oil for herpes help with outbreaks?
May people are asking if tea tree oil, a potent natural antiseptic oil, could be used to kill the genital herpes virus.
That's an excellent question indeed. This is a question we will address shortly.
Although there are prescription anti-viral medications available, they are generally quite expensive and many people would prefer to try the natural alternative first.
Our detailed article Benefits of Tea Tree Oil reveals all the health benefits so we won't discuss it here.
Let's just focus on the potential benefits of using this popular antiseptic liquid in fighting off herpes infections from a scientific perspective.
Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) has been suggested for treating herpes including genital herpes. It shows promise in lab studies against the herpes simplex 1 and 2 virus.
Animal and lab studies show that tea tree oil solution is able to kill off the herpes virus.
One lab study done at the University of Heideberg in Germany showed that tea tree oil was effective at stopping the spread of the herpes simplex 1 and 2 virus.Another animal study showed that it is about 99% effective in stopping the spread of the herpes virus.
These results confirmed another independent study published in Pharmazie (2001). A combination of tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil was effective in preventing the herpes virus from multiplying in a cell culture.
All these lab and animal studies are wonderful to have but as you know, we have to find out if it actually works in human subjects infected with this virus.
Does it work in humans suffering from herpes infection? Fortunately, there is one study and the researchers believed that it does.
The lead researcher C. Carsona showed that a 6% tea tree oil gel showed benefits in reducing the duration of recurrent herpes labialis (cold sores).
However, the benefits were modest and the authors acknowledged that tea tree oil treatment was started far too late during the course of the infection.
They said that it probably would be much more effective if the therapy started at the first sign of a cold sore. (This also applies to prescription anti-viral medications as well.)
Their conclusions? Tea tree oil is cost-effective, beneficial, had no risk of developing resistance against the herpes virus and acceptable to patients.
This is only a preliminary study so additional follow-up studies will need to be done to confirm this inital finding.
Here are the recommended steps for treating herpes outbreaks.
Make a 6% solution by mixing 3 mL of tea tree oil and adding sufficient distilled water to make up to 50 mL.
See Tea Tree Oil Dilutions Guide for complete details on how to make this.
Start by washing your hands and drying them with a towel.
Always apply the solution or gel with a cotton swab (Q-Tip). It is not recommended to apply the solution with the included applicator, if there is one.
Why? Because you don't want to contaminate the product with the herpes virus. Avoid dipping the Q-Tip again into the solution. If you need to use more, get a fresh Q-tip.
This gel or solution can be applied two to four times daily until the lesions clear.
As always, test the tea tree oil mixture first on one spot first before applying to the entire area. If discomfort or skin irritation is noticed, avoid using it or considering using a more dilute solution.
Thinking of using tea tree oil for herpes?
There's only one small clinical trial to show that it could help with herpes.
The risk of using tea tree oil is low and there are animal studies to suggest that it does prevent the herpes virus from spreading.
It is worth giving it a try.
There's little downside risk (skin irritation) and the upside benefit is high (quicker recovery).
Needless to mention, the best way to prevent herpes outbreak is to keep your immune system strong. Avoid stress and maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.