Peppermint oil reduces the painful symptoms associated with cold sores. While essential oils are no match for prescription and over-the-counter fever blister medicines, they are a great choice for people who want a natural remedy.

It can be taken and applied in many ways. From topical creams, capsules, and traditional drops, this essential oil can ease pain and promote quicker healing, according to a study by Faculty of Medecine of University of Heidelberg.

You will find out more about peppermint, how to apply it, and any side effects that you might encounter. You will also learn about the importance of peppermint tea as well as the reliability of OTC cold sore treatments. Let’s take a closer look.

Will Peppermint Oil Get Rid of Cold Sores?

Peppermint oil has the natural ability to kill off the herpes virus when it’s been activated.[1] Due to its antimicrobial properties, peppermint oil has been used as a treatment and healer of numerous ailments for generations.

Similar to many other essential oils for cold sores, peppermint is a potent antiviral.[2] This makes it a worthy foe against a host of medical issues, such as fever blisters.

Although many treatments can be problematic, essential oils are safe. While results may vary, peppermint is unlikely to pose any harmful side effects. This fact alone sets it apart from many alternative remedies which can be detrimental to the skin.

How to Apply Peppermint Extract to a Cold Sore 

Peppermint extract can be applied in a variety of ways. While the process is quick and easy, there are variations based on personal preference.

Listed below is the standard application process for applying peppermint oil to a cold sore.

  • The first thing you must be aware of is timing. What stage is your cold sore? Are you in the tingle stage (prodromal)? The scab stage? Answering these questions will enable you to treat your sore better and without irritation. Ideally, you should only treat your fever blister with an essential oil during the tingle stage or the scab stage. This should result in a pain-free treatment.
  • Regarding direct application, just apply a small amount of peppermint oil to a cotton swab or cotton ball. Gently place the cotton directly on the problematic skin. Only a slight dab is necessary. Do not rub. If you are applying oil to a scab, be careful not to disturb the scab itself. Even the smallest manipulation could result in unwanted peeling.
  • You can repeat this process several times per day as needed. Waiting for several hours between applications is wise.

It should also be noted that peppermint oil can be found in capsule form as well as a topical cream. While these will likely provide the same benefits, direct contact with the oil is the better option.

Does Drinking Peppermint Tea Heal Cold Sores?

Peppermint tea has the same ability to heal cold sores as peppermint oil. While potentially not as useful due to the beverage aspect, it is worthy of further consideration when used to complement the oil.

  • Pro Tip: Although consuming peppermint tea is helpful, making use of the tea bag could also provide benefit. There has long since been a school of thought that applying tea bags directly to blisters can reduce swelling. This same outlook also applies to peppermint tea. This is due in no small measure to the active antimicrobials and antiviral properties.

Safe in nature, pressing a tea bag (in a gentle fashion) against your cold sore could provide positive results. This method is likely to work if used in combination with a peppermint oil application.

Concerning tea consumption, one of two cups per day is the recommended daily amount.

It should also be stated that this form of treatment can be used in tandem with an active OTC treatment. Consuming peppermint tea while using a product such as the Virulite Electronic Device is likely to provide fast cold sore healing.

To recap:

  • Peppermint tea can prove a worthy foe in the fight against cold sores. By drinking one or two cups per day, you can potentially see your fever blisters diminish. The same qualities found in peppermint oil are also found in peppermint tea.
  • Any natural tea can also be used in conjunction with a proven FDA approved cold sore treatment. Using a safe alternative treatment does not mean you have to abandon OTC creams or gels. Applying cream while continuing your peppermint tea consumption is safe.
  • Gently pressing a peppermint tea bag against your blister can also provide relief. The active ingredients in the tea can serve to reduce the swelling and inflammation of your active sores.

What Are the Health Benefits of Peppermint Essential Oil? 

This potent essential oil cools and calms the skin while also improving your skin’s natural texture. This is critical when it comes to healing damaged skin that has been compromised by a blister. The cooling and numbing sensation are also beneficial as it relates to reducing the pain.

Another benefit of peppermint oil is that it can naturally boost your immune health. Since one of the more common cold sore triggers is immune system weakness, this oil can give your body a much-needed boost.

In addition to relieving stress, which can play a huge role in an HSV-1 outbreak, peppermint can also increase blood flow. This critical benefit can help to promote general healing. Cold sore blisters are born of a virus, but the manifestation of that virus is a flesh wound. Increased blood flow to the area, coupled with proper treatment, can result in fast healing.

To summarize…

  • Peppermint oil can promote positive healing in a variety of ways.[3] It can cool and rejuvenate the skin. This is beneficial for reducing the pain that often accompanies a fever blister outbreak.
  • It is beneficial when it comes to lowering stress while improving your immune system. These are both critical aspects when it comes to healing and preventing cold sores.

Can Peppermint Cause an Allergic Reaction?

  • Important: Peppermint can cause skin reactions as well as gastrointestinal and respiratory concerns in rare cases. Skin redness/swelling, nausea/vomiting, and shortness of breath are the most common side effects associated with this essential oil.

Diluting peppermint oil with water can serve as a guard against an allergic reaction. Although most people can handle the oil without issue, some individuals are sensitive to its makeup. This is where swelling and general inflammation can negatively impact the skin.

Many allergic reactions are caused by improper use or accidental consumption. This is why you must be careful when applying peppermint oil to a cold sore. If it is ingested or drawn into the nasal cavity, this can result in complications.

To recap:

  • Peppermint oil can cause adverse skin reactions as well as gastrointestinal and respiratory concerns. This is especially true if the oil is ingested or introduced inside the nose and nasal cavity.
  • If you have a known peppermint allergy, you should avoid this treatment option.
  • We advise you to consult your physician before using peppermint essential oil if you have any questions or general concerns.

How to use peppermint oil for fever blisters

Peppermint Oil vs. Tea Tree Oil for Cold Sores

While not clinically proven to heal cold sores, tea tree oil, like peppermint oil, can be effective. In the “versus” battle, deciding which oil is better is mostly like selecting your favorite soda. Personal preference will probably rule the day as both are more or less equals concerning treating cold sores.

Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties that can dry out fever blisters and prevent infection. This is similar in many ways to what peppermint oil has to offer.

Essential oils can aid in the healing of a variety of health and skin concerns. Deciding which essential oil to use will probably come down to price and personal inclination. Tea tree oil will likely win the consensus popularity contest, but this is more of a win/win scenario.

To summarize:

  • In the battle between tea tree oil and peppermint oil, the winner is likely you. While neither is an FDA-approved treatment, both options are worthy of consideration. This is important given the dangerous nature of some alternative remedies.
  • Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties that can dry out your blister and prevent infection.
  • You should encounter no significant issues. Both oils are safe and quite respected.

What Really Works for Cold Sores?

While peppermint oil is an excellent alternative remedy, it is not Abreva or Orajel.

Although current trends dictate new ways of attempting to reinvent the wheel, there is nothing wrong with taking the boring route. This is particularly true when “boring” results equate to fast cold sore healing.

Seek out quality OTC cold sore treatments if you are in the midst of your first cold sore outbreak. If you can find a proven cream or gel, you can always lean on them in the future. This will save you a lot of time and energy should you have a fever blister recurrence.

To recap:

  • Using an alternative cold sore treatment for the sake of being different is not wise. We encourage you to use known products such as the Virulite Electronic Device and HERP-B-GONE.
  • Finding a proven treatment that works for you can be of great benefit should you have a recurrence.

Although peppermint oil is a worthy foe against cold sores, it should never be your first (or only) option. There is no point in risking unwanted infection merely to try something new.


  1. Schuhmacher A., Reichling J., Schnitzler P. Virucidal effect of peppermint oil on the enveloped viruses herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2 in vitro. 2003;10(6-7):504–510. doi: 10.1078/094471103322331467.
  2. McKay DL, Blumberg JB. A review of the bioactivity and potential health benefits of peppermint tea (Mentha piperita L.) Phyto Res. 2006;20:619–633. doi: 10.1002/ptr.1936.
  3. Kligler B, Chaudhary S. Peppermint oil. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(7):1027–30.