I’m often asked which essential oils are best for reducing the nerve pain, itchiness, and PHN caused by shingles and thought it would be helpful to share what I’ve learned for those of you suffering from this debilitating virus.
A Little More on Shingles
Shingles, aka Herpes zoster, is an acute infection of the sensory nerve roots that is closely related to the chicken pox virus. It most commonly affects middle-aged or elderly individuals.
The shingles virus affects sensory nerves before entering the spinal cord and causes blisters to erupt on the area of skin where those nerves are affected. Pain is usually felt before the blisters appear and can persist for several weeks before they disappear. Symptoms can include numbness, depression, tingling, shooting pains, fever, and headaches.
The face and midsection of the body are most often affected. If the trigeminal nerve (the nerve responsible for sensation in the face) is affected, eruptions can occur on the cornea of the eye which can cause blindness if not treated promptly.
Pain that lingers after the blisters have healed is called postherpetic neuralgia.
Stages of The Shingles Virus
1. A weakened immune system caused by stress, illness, immune system deficiencies etc. reawakens the virus
2. Shingles is often preceded by 3-4 days of chills, fever, and aches
3. Burning pain and sensitive skin begins to develop
4. A rash develops on the skin followed by blisters filled with pus that resemble the chicken pox. The affected area becomes excruciatingly painful and sensitive to touch
5. The blisters burst, crust over, and begin to heal. Skin becomes very itchy
6. If the nerves are damaged, postherpetic neuralgia can occur and can last several months
Therapeutic Strategy for Treating Shingles
1. Treat the legions with anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and analgesic (pain relieving) essential oils
2. Tonify the immune system by using nourishing foods, herbs, and other immune-boosting supplements like L-lysine
3. Reduce stress and get plenty of rest
The Best Essential Oils for Shingles and How to Use Them
Essential oils are a must have for reducing the duration and severity of shingles. They can soothe away nerve pain, calm redness, reduce itching, and expedite healing of the skin.
In this article, I will share the best suited essential oils for treating shingles naturally, as well as a few recipes you can make at home that will speed up your recovery and offer a bit of comfort while the virus runs its course.
The key is consistency of application while staying nourished, using relaxing nervines, and reducing stress throughout treatment. Following these guidelines can heal shingles more quickly and with less severe symptoms.
Also keep in mind that if the person being treated is taking a lot of medications, reduce the essential oil quantities in half.
Best of luck!
Best Essential Oils for Treating the Herpes Zoster Virus
For the most comfortable application, essential oils for shingles should be added to a spritzer bottle with either witch hazel, thin aloe vera juice (you can strain and dilute it with witch hazel or filtered water), herbal hydrosols, or a thin carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil.
The spray should be about a 10% dilution ratio or 60 drops of essential oil in 1oz of liquid/carrier oil.
You can pick and choose from the oils below based on your needs and formulate a simple shingles spray.
Bergamot is one of the most effective essential oils that inhibit the herpes virus and will aid in drying blisters and giving you long-lasting pain relief. It is a powerful antiviral and analgesic essential oil that will also support you emotionally throughout your healing journey.
Be sure to use bergapten-free bergamot essential oil or make sure to completely cover any areas of topical application with clothing if going outside. Bergamot is an extremely phototoxic essential oil meaning it reacts negatively when exposed to sunlight.
Tea tree essential oil will help soothe redness and irritation on and around the blistering skin. Its anesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties make it a perfect match for treating shingles and reducing pain. If used consistently, you can prevent scarring and further infection.
Lavender essential oil eases pain associated with shingles and will reduce redness and inflammation of blister legions. Lavender will also help relax you if you have trouble sleeping due to pain. Lavender can also treat pain that occurs long after the blisters have disappeared.
Ravensara essential oil has known properties that are effective against the herpes virus, specifically for the treatment of active shingles. It has an affinity for clearing skin ailments and infections and helps reduce pain and inflammation. Many find it helpful to dilute this oil with tamanu oil when applying it to active shingles legions. Ravensara is one of the nest essential oils for shingles.
Manuka essential oil has been shown to inhibit the herpes simplex virus and may help shorten the duration of shingles. It also has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties.
Melissa essential oil (aka lemon balm EO) is an excellent oil for preventing the spread of shingles due to its polyphenol content and has shown a significant reduction in the duration and severity of shingles. It speeds up healing and relieves itching and redness.
Melissa is also an amazing remedy for cold sores and can reduce duration, severity, and recurrence.
This essential oil is best used as soon as a shingles outbreak occurs.
General Shingles Recipes to Use Upon Outbreak
Mix the recipes below with an equal amount of carrier oil and apply to affected areas with a clean cotton swab 3-5 times a day. Many recipes call for “neat” application, but I think this is too strong.
Using the essential below oils in a 50/50 ratio will help stave off the virus, however, try a patch test first as this is still a very strong dilution to use. You can, of course, add more carrier oil to dilute the recipes further to suit your needs. Please refer to this article for dilutions and conversions.
Shingles Outbreak Recipe #1
Shingles Outbreak Recipe #2
Shingles Outbreak Recipe #3
Essential Oils that Relieve Itching Caused by Shingles
The essential oils below are excellent calming oils for dry, itchy, and inflamed skin. They penetrate deeply and help alleviate symptoms within minutes.
If you still have a lot of pain, you can use 60 drops of essential oil in 2oz of water (I recommend starting with 30 drops first to see how that feels as it is a very strong dilution), witch hazel, or thin carrier oil and use it as a spray, or you can follow the recipes I’ve listed below mixed in an equal amount of carrier oil. Again, adjust the dilution to suit your needs.
Both German and Roman chamomile essential oil are incredibly anti-inflammatory and soothing for the skin and are probably the best oils to use for treating itchy shingles. These essential oils are also analgesic and will reduce pain, soothe discomfort, and relieve maddening itching.
Helichrysum is one of the best oils to use for healing the skin, reducing pain, and alleviating inflammation that causes allergic and itchy reactions. Helichrysum will also repair damaged nerves caused by shingles.
Lavender is such a diverse and useful oil and using it for itchy healing skin is no exception. Its anti-inflammatory and soothing properties make it perfect for healing skin, reducing redness, and preventing scarring caused by shingles as it reaches its final stages.
Palmarosa essential oil is known for its ability to alleviate dry, irritated, and itchy skin. This oil also has antiseptic and cell rejuvenating properties that aid in the regeneration of the skin.
The cooling properties of peppermint will calm inflammation and relieve itching as shingles legions begin to heal and dry. If peppermint can nix itching caused by poison oak and poison ivy, it can certainly relieve itchy skin caused by shingles!
Recipes for Itchy Skin Caused by Shingles
Some essential oils have an affinity for relieving itchy skin and calming inflammation. Combine the essential oils below with an equal amount of carrier oil and apply evenly with a clean cotton swab 3-5 times a day. Using the oils in a 50/50 ratio will help stave off the virus, however, try a patch test first as this is a very strong dilution to use. You can, of course, add more carrier oil to dilute the recipes further to suit your needs.
Shingles Recipe for Itchy Skin #1
Shingles Recipe for Itchy Skin #2
Shingles Recipe for Itchy Skin #3
Shingles Recipe for Itchy Skin #4
Shingles Recipe for Itchy Skin #5
Essential Oils for Nerve Pain Associated with Shingles
There are several essential oils that can dramatically reduce pain, tingling, and the pins and needles sensation caused by shingles. Some of my favorites to use are camphor, eucalyptus globulus, and the cooling power of peppermint essential oil. I’ve listed others that have worked well for nerve pain and residual nerve pain below.
Black Pepper – this is a good oil to use if heat brings you relief for nerve and muscle pain
Camphor – camphor is a warming oil that eradicates nerve pain and pins and needles
Eucalyptus globulus – a cooling oil that has analgesic properties useful for all type of pain
Eucalyptus radiata – a cooling oil with penetrating properties good for pain
Ginger – a good oil to use if heat alleviates your symptoms
Helichrysum – a highly analgesic oil that repairs damaged nerves
Lavender – recuses nerve pain and supports you emotionally during healing. Promotes sleep
Marjoram – a warming, analgesic oil
Melissa – one of the best essential oils for shingles. Prevents the spread of shingles and reduces nerve pain
Ravensara – a strong antiviral that supports nerve health and integrity
Sandalwood – effective against all forms of herpes and other skin conditions
Essential Oil Recipes for Shingles Pain and PHN (Post Herpetic Neuralgia)
Below are a few popular blends that work wonders on reducing pain up to several hours before reapplication is needed. These blends are also effective against PHN symptoms.
Dilute the recipes below with equal parts carrier oil (unless otherwise specified) and apply gently with a clean cotton swab 3-5 times a day followed by nerve relaxing tinctures like St. John’s Wort, Scullcap, Passionflower, Valerian, or Motherwort. Use the tinctures as directed on the bottle. Keep in mind that passionflower and valerian tinctures are best used before bedtime as they are sedative in nature. St. John’s Wort can react with certain medications so please do your research.
The combination of essential oils and tinctures should help a shingles outbreak clear up in a matter of days. These oils can also greatly relieve PHN pain.
Shingles Pain Relief Recipe #1
Shingles Pain Relief Recipe #2
Shingles Pain Relief Recipe #3
Shingles Pain Relief Recipe #4
Shingles Pain Relief Recipe #5
Shingles Pain Relief Recipe #6
Shingles Pain Relief Recipe #7
For pain that lasts even after the blisters have disappeared, use roman chamomile to bring much needed relief. This oil soothes and calms dry itchy and inflamed skin.
• 20 drops roman chamomile
Shingles Pain Relief Recipe #8
*** Shake well and spritz on shingles legions 3-6 times a day.
Other Essential Oils to Consider for Healing Shingles
There are a few other essential oils for shingles that can be quite effective. These can help soothe nerve pain, reduce itching, and calm inflamed skin. They can even help prevent the virus from spreading and are especially useful when applied to the spinal cord (where shingles begins).
Blue Tansy (aka Moroccan Blue Chamomile) – stimulates the immune system, analgesic, skin healing
Cypress – an amazing oil for repairing the skin and nerves. Also pain relieving
Elemi – a strong skin regenerative oil that prevents scarring
Mountain Savory – incredible for pain relief and healing
Oregano – apply diluted to the bottoms of the feet and along the spine to help eradicate shingles faster
Rose – astringent, cooling, and healing in nature. Reduces pain, swelling, and redness
Thyme – apply to the bottoms of the feet and spinal cord to fight off the shingles virus (use half strength dilution)
For more shingles remedies, please check out my other article on the topic!
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