Essential oils for sinus pain and infection

You have to have experienced blocked or infected sinuses to truly understand the pain and misery of Sinusitis which can have numerous causes and will affect many people in the course of their lives.  Some just seem to be more prone to sinus issues and infections than others.  Anything that impacts on your face is always traumatic and invasive – eye infections, toothache, headaches – and sinus problems are right up there with the worst offenders.

Blocked or infected sinuses hurt your face, your teeth and your eyes and are likely to have you grounded or in bed as even moving your head around can be sore and painful. Fortunately, essential oils from the bathroom cabinet can offer safe and symptomatic relief, powerful enough to make a difference yet gentle enough to be soothing and relieving.

headache from sinus pain

What is Sinusitis?

Sinusitis is inflammation of the sinuses in the head which are the passages that help mucus drain away.  They work particularly hard if you have a cold or flu but can become narrowed with the inflammation caused by the virus meaning it is harder for them to work properly and clear excess mucous.  The resultant blockages can cause horrible pain across the cheeks and jaw, induce headaches, the feeling of a toothache, and even facial swellings can be visible.  On top of an underlying cough or cold virus, Sinusitis is one of the most miserable of outcomes.

sinus pain


What are the best essential oils to clear blocked sinuses?

Our favorites would have to include:-

  • Peppermint – noted for its sharp refreshing clarity
  • Eucalyptus – an effective decongestant with a scent that is somewhere between mint and pine but with a touch of honey, perfect for those who find straight peppermint just too strong
  • Ravensara – powerful yet gentle with a fragrance similar to Eucalyptus but with a citrus tone as well
  • Rosemary – herbaceous, woody and aromatic, Rosemary is either a smell you love or hate
  • Thyme – a dark oil with a spicy scent, Thyme is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties
  • Frankincense – not one that you might have in the cupboard, Frankincense is aromatic with hints of pine and citrus and a slight mustiness to the tones

How to use essential oils to relieve blocked sinuses

All essential oils have anti-inflammatory and some anti-bacterial properties so they can offer symptomatic relief for blocked sinuses whilst also helping to combat infection.

Essential oils can be applied topically to the body or a blend of your favorites dropped into warm bath water to act as a pleasant inhaler whilst you relax. The steam from the hot water will act as a natural diffuser as you lie there.  Most people who suffer regularly from Sinusitis will equip themselves with an essential oils diffuser or inhaler but if it comes to it, you can just fill a basin with warm water, add the oils, place a towel over your head and let the resultant steam infuse naturally through your facial passageways.

A room diffuser can improve the quality of your environment both at home or at work; your colleagues probably won’t have any complaints about the pleasant scent in their environment.  Just add a few drops from your favorite oils or blend to the diffuser and place it near your workstation or chair.

A humidifier in the bedroom can work well overnight and diffuses the oil into the atmosphere gradually whilst you sleep.  As anyone who suffers from Sinusitis knows only too well, waking up in the morning with blocked sinuses is one of the most unpleasant of experiences exacerbated by the prone position we sleep in. You can inhale the air directly from the humidifier before you go to bed by sitting above it and covering your head with a towel.   If you can, raise your pillows a little to aid natural drainage whilst you sleep.

A personal diffuser can keep the scent to yourself and is perfectly portable for instant relief if you are out and about.


Make a chest rub

This can be really soothing at night before you go to sleep.  The warming effect of the oils on your skin and the fragrances they release will be inhaled throughout the night whilst you are asleep and get to work on those troublesome sinuses.  Apply a little under your nose just as you would a proprietary branded vapor rub.

A chest rub can be made to measure with a few drops of each of your favorite oils in an unscented or neutral carrier or base oil – remember, never use them without dilution or neat as essential oils are very strong.  Why not try three drops of eucalyptus oil, three drops of peppermint and two drops of thyme to create something spicy and warm after a relaxing bath?  Some people opt for more citrus tones which they find sharp yet soothing and of course, lavender is a lovely calming fragrance before bedtime.

You can use melted beeswax to combine with your favorite oils to make something more substantial, easy to do in the kitchen on the hob.  The surplus can be poured into a jar to use on subsequent days and can easily be softened or melted to the required consistency.

Essential oils are one of the most effective and easy tools to combat the misery of blocked sinuses.  They offer almost instant symptomatic relief whilst helping to fight inflammation and infection.  Just remember to always dilute in a base oil and that they are not suitable for young children or infants.

References / Further Reading

What is Sinusitis:

Essential Oils for Sinusitis:

3 Essential Oils to Clear your Sinuses:

How to make a vapor rub:

Herbal chest rub recipes:

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