Using Essential Oils To Manage Shingles Symptoms
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), approximately 1 in 3 people will develop shingles in their lifetime. (1)
Shingles (herpes zoster) are the reactivation of the chickenpox virus.
Both conditions are the result of the varicella-zoster virus.
Once chickenpox symptoms have run their course, the virus travels to nerve tissues where it stays dormant.
The virus can sometimes ‘wake up’ and move from the nerve tissue to the skin.
Shingles present as a rash or a single cluster of blisters on one side of the body.
Management of shingles pain can require pain relief and antiviral medication, although sometimes pain can be present even after the rash has disappeared (postherpetic neuralgia).
A person with shingles can infect someone who has either never had chickenpox or hasn’t been vaccinated.
It’s, therefore, essential to practice social distancing until all of your blisters have completely healed.
While there is no cure for shingles, medication can help accelerate healing and reduce the risk of complications.
You can also manage symptoms and pain with home remedies like essential oils.
Essential Oils As A Natural Remedy
Essential oils (EOs) are highly concentrated plant extracts from tree bark and resin, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and even fruit.
EOs contain therapeutic properties that can help strengthen the body’s healing ability.
Aromatherapy is the application of EOs for natural health purposes.
Certain EOs contain specific properties that can be useful to manage shingles symptoms.
Look for oils that are:
The Best Essential Oils for Shingles
Peppermint is a potent pain reliever, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic.
Menthol, an active compound in peppermint, is a well-known pain reliever and anesthetic agent.
A case report published in the Clinical Journal of Pain mentions a 76-year-old woman with nerve pain who had been resistant to standard pain therapies. (2)
She applied peppermint oil containing 10% menthol directly on the affected area, and this resulted in an almost immediate pain reduction, which lasted for 4-6 hours after the topical application.
Tea tree oil (melaleuca)
This powerful antiviral oil has been used medicinally by Australia’s Aboriginal people for thousands of years.
Its antiseptic properties make it effective at treating wounds and accelerating healing while also lowering inflammation.
Lavender oil is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, pain-relieving, and also can accelerate wound healing.
It’s gentle and suitable for most skin types.
Frankincense oil is known as a potent anti-inflammatory or immune system booster.
It also has antiviral properties.
German chamomile oil
Chamomile oil is a well-known pain-reliever, calmative, anticonvulsive, and anti-inflammatory.
It’s also gentle and usually suitable for all skin types.
Other essential oils that might be helpful for shingles are:
It’s important to note that essential oils are most useful as an add-on to shingles medication rather than as a stand-alone treatment.
There is currently no medical evidence that essential oils can cure shingles, though some evidence suggests that they can help alleviate symptoms.
When used mindfully and safely essential oils usually pose little to no risk of negative side effects.
Always consult with your doctor before using essential oils topically for any kind of skin condition.
EOs are potent and a little goes a long way.
Just a few drops of essential oil is usually all you need for medicinal purposes.
Some oils like tea tree may cause irritation or a reaction in sensitive skin types.
It’s advisable to perform a patch test on a non-affected area and wait 24-48 hours before proceeding.
Never apply EOs neatly on the skin without first diluting.
It’s important to know that EOs aren’t regulated by the FDA (Food & Drug Administration).
This means that many products on the market might be diluted or contaminated with harmful solvents or chemicals.
Always choose certified organic, therapeutic-grade products, especially if you’re using them for skin rashes and conditions like shingles.
How To Use EOs for Shingles
The best way to use EOs for shingles is by topical application.
Always dilute essential oils with a carrier oil like coconut oil before applying them directly to your skin.
Use 2-3 drops of essential oil per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
A Soothing DIY Essential Oil Blend Lotion for Shingles
- 3 drops peppermint oil
- 2 drops tea tree oil
- 2 drops lavender oil
- 2 drops frankincense oil
- 3 tablespoons of coconut oil
Mix the oils with the coconut oil and place the solution in a dark glass container with an air-tight lid.
Apply the lotion to the affected area with clean fingertips, a cotton swab, or a cotton ball.
Apply once in the morning and again once in the evening for best results.