Essential Oils for Sinus Infections: Why, How, and Which Ones to Use

Essential Oils for Sinus Infections: Why, How, and Which Ones to Use

Discover the powerful benefits of using essential oils for sinus infections. Unlike over-the-counter (OTC) medications, EOs offer a natural and effective treatment with fewer side effects. We’ll explore how these healing oils can reduce inflammation, clear sinuses, and soothe pain caused by sinus infections. We'll guide you through various methods of using EOs, including topical application, diffusion, and incorporating them into your bath routine. We'll also highlight the most effective ones to treat your sinus infections. Additionally, we'll explore other home remedies like nasal irrigation, steam inhalation, and herbal supplements to complement your aromatherapy. Enhance your well-being and find relief from sinus infection symptoms with these natural remedies.

The Benefits of Using Essential Oils for Sinus Infections

Over-the-counter sinus medications can be an effective treatment for sinus infections and congestion. Unfortunately, many of these medications dry out mucous membranes, making mucus thicker. OTC medications may also interact poorly with other medications. Essential oils are an effective treatment with fewer side effects than popular over-the-counter medications. 

Reducing Sinus Inflammation with EOs

Sinus congestion is often the result of an inflammatory response. Sinus inflammation may result from infections or allergies and can lead to mucus buildup, causing bacteria to grow in your sinuses. 

Most oils have anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce sinus inflammation, making it easier to relieve mucus buildup and fight infection.

Clearing Sinuses with EOs

Essential oils clear your sinuses in multiple ways. Some have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve sinusitis. Studies have shown that eucalyptus oil's primary constituent clears mucus and bacteria from the airways. Additionally, eucalyptus acts as a natural cough suppressant, while peppermint oil produces a cooling sensation with psychological benefits for those fighting sinus congestion. 

Soothing Pain with EOs

Sinus infections can lead to facial pain and headaches. By relieving infection symptoms, essential oils provide relief from sinus pain and discomfort. Additionally, certain oils like rosemary and chamomile have been shown to treat headaches and migraine attacks.

Some oils, such as lavender, have analgesic properties. Analgesics like lavender typically reduce inflammation at the site of pain or change the brain’s perception of pain. 

inhaling essential oils for sinus pain

How to Use EOs for Sinus Infections

You can only administer many over-the-counter medications in a single way. For example, vapour rubs must be applied topically, and pills must be taken orally. But you can treat sinus infections with essential oils using a variety of methods, whichever you’re comfortable with. 

Apply Directly to Your Skin With a Carrier Oil

Like vapour rubs, you can apply most essential oils topically. It’s critical to dilute these highly concentrated oils with a carrier oil before applying them to your skin. You should also patch-test essential oils on a small area of your skin to ensure you don’t react negatively.

After you’ve confirmed the mixture is safe for your skin, apply it around your nose, mouth, and throat. If you’re experiencing sinus headaches, apply the mixture directly to your forehead as well.

Diffusing Oils for Traditional Aromatherapy

Diffusing EOs lets you enjoy their benefits throughout the day. You must dilute the oil to around 3%, mixing it with water rather than carrier oil before adding the mixture to your diffuser. See your diffuser’s instructions for precise measurements.

Before diffusing in your home, test them in an isolated room to ensure you don’t have an adverse reaction. It’s best to diffuse oils in an area of your home that isn’t frequented by children or pets.

Using Oils in a Bath

Using essential oils in the bath combines the benefits of inhalation and topical application. Since the oils will touch your skin in the tub, it’s best to patch-test them first. Note that these oils aren’t water-soluble, so they’ll float to the top of the water if you don’t dilute them with carrier oil. Mix them with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut or jojoba oil, as these won’t leave your skin or tub feeling greasy.

The Best Essential Oils for Sinus Infections

Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil contains menthol, a popular ingredient in over-the-counter vapour rubs. Menthol doesn’t reduce sinus congestion, but its cooling properties make you feel like it does. Because of this psychological effect, peppermint can provide temporary comfort when you’re congested.

According to a 2010 study, peppermint oil has antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Its antibacterial properties help fight sinusitis-inducing bacterial strains, while its antioxidant properties may relieve oxidative stress that contributes to chronic sinusitis.

Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus oil helps clear sinus infections thanks to its primary constituent, 1, 8-cineole. A  double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial confirmed that 1, 8 -cineole is an effective, safe treatment for acute non-purulent rhinosinusitis. This organic eucalyptus can be inhaled or applied topically to relieve sinus congestion and fight infections.

Clary sage

Clary sage possesses calming properties. If you’re experiencing anxiety or discomfort due to a sinus infection, inhale clary sage oil to help you relax. This essential oil effectively prevents the growth and spread of bacteria, which can curb severe sinus infections. 

Lavender oil

Lavender is a versatile natural remedy that relieves sinus congestion symptoms in numerous ways. Per a 2015 study, lavender oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which can alleviate sinusitis-induced inflammation. The same study confirms you can use lavender oil to relieve pain caused by sinus infections. It also has antioxidant properties, reducing oxidative stress, a possible cause of sinus infections.

Lavender oil is primarily used for its calming properties, which can help you relax as you fight a sinus or other type of infection.

Rosemary oil

Rosemary is widely used for its anti-inflammatory properties. Rosemary contains the chemical compounds rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid. Per a 2020 study, these compounds possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Additionally, if you're experiencing pain or discomfort due to sinusitis, you can use rosemary oil to relieve the pain.


Lemon helps fight oxidative stress that may lead to sinus infections. It also acts as a stimulant, improving your alertness as you fight your infection. Studies have shown that lemon oil has potent antibacterial effects, which may reduce the time it takes to get over a sinus infection. This oil contains limonene, a chemical with anti-inflammatory properties; you can use lemon EO to combat sinusitis-induced inflammation.


Frankincense oil is popular for its anti-inflammatory properties. A 2016 study confirmed that a mixture containing frankincense oil effectively relieved patients’ perennial allergic rhinitis. The same study suggests this oil can reduce fatigue and improve sleep quality.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil’s anti-inflammatory properties can reduce sinus swelling, alleviating your runny nose. This essential oil contains the chemical compound alpha-sabine, which has powerful antibacterial properties. Tea tree oil also contains an immune booster called terpinen-4-ol, which can help your body fight infections. Additionally, if you’re suffering from a chronic cough,  you can inhale tea tree oil for temporary relief.

Clove Bud

Clove bud oil has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that combat sinus infections’ symptoms and root causes. It acts as a natural expectorant, helping clear the mucus from your airways. You can use an oil diffuser to inhale clove bud oil or apply it topically to relieve sinus congestion.

Additional Home Remedies for Sinus Infections

Nasal Irrigation

Nasal irrigation helps loosen and break down mucus while removing dust and debris. To use a nasal irrigation device, tilt your head sideways over a sink and pour a water & saline mixture through your upper nostril. Make sure to read your device's instructions to understand how much saline to use and whether it has specific instructions. Additionally, you mustn’t use tap water, as it may contain microorganisms that worsen your infection. Use distilled or sterile water; if you must use tap water, boil it for 3-5 minutes and let it cool down.

Steam Inhalation

Steam inhalation helps moisturise the nasal passageways but works best when combined with nasal irrigation. Steam therapy loosens the mucus in your sinuses and throat. You can mix essential oils with your water to improve the effectiveness of steam inhalation. But you should never mix essential oils with the water used in a nasal irrigation device.

Herbal Supplements

Some herbal supplements have many of the same properties as essential oils. Many have anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and congestion-relieving effects. For example, bromelain supplements may reduce mucus buildup caused by sinusitis. Similarly, Sinupret, a popular natural sinus supplement, was shown to relieve viral rhinosinusitis in children. Several vitamins, which are present in natural supplements, such as vitamins A, C, E, and D, can help relieve sinusitis symptoms.

Incorporating these healing oils into your sinus infection treatment can fast-track your road to recovery. With all of the benefits (plus some) and none of the negative side effects of OTC medicines, you can relieve pain and get back on your feet sooner. Whether you choose to apply them topically, diffuse them, or add them to your bath, there are various methods to suit your preferences. Experiment with different EOs to see which you prefer and is most effective for your individual journey, and even supplement with them other home remedies if you so choose. It's time to take control of your well-being and find natural relief from sinus infection symptoms.