ShinglesShingles | West Coast Institute of Aromatherapy

Using essential oils can be very helpful in addressing the pain and discomfort that shingles brings in its wake.

According to the Mayo Clinic:

Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. Although shingles can occur anywhere on your body, it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you’ve had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Years later, the virus may reactivate as shingles.
While it isn’t a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Vaccines can help reduce the risk of shingles, while early treatment can help shorten a shingles infection and lessen the chance of complications.
Anyone who’s had chickenpox may develop shingles. After you recover from chickenpox, the virus can enter your nervous system and lie dormant for years. Eventually, it may reactivate and travel along nerve pathways to your skin — producing shingles.
The reason for the encore is unclear. But it may be due to lowered immunity to infections as you grow older. Shingles is more common in older adults and in people who have weak immune systems.

So why use essential oils?  Here are three reasons to do so:

  1. Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and will be helpful in addressing the pain and itching that accompanies shingles.
  2. Shingles is caused by a virus and many essential oils have good anti-viral properties.
  3. Singles will also, more often than not, be accompanies by a strong component of stress and we have many essential oils that can help address this too.

How would you use them?

  • Topically, in a mist spray to help prevent the itching. Hydrosols can be excellent for this use too.  Peppermint is nice and cooling.
  • Cool compresses of essential oil – hydrosol mixtures can be applied regularly throughout the day to the vesicles for topical relief.
  • In the bath, combined with bicarbonate of soda to help prevent itching.  Remember that essential oils do not dissolve in water so add an equal number of drops of emulsifier to your essential oil blend, or if you don’t have an emulsifier add an equal number of drops of liquid soap to disperse the essential oil droplets through the water.
  • In a diffuser, to help disinfect the room and calm any of the emotional swings that might accompany someone who is not feeling well.
  • In a room mister to disinfect the air and bedding.

According to Kurt Schnaubelt, one of the best remedies to use for Shingles is a topical application to the lesions 2 – 3 times a day of a 50:50 blend of Calophyllum inophyllum (Tamanu oil) and the essential oil Ravintsara (Cinnamomum camphora).Ravintsara has good anti-viral and analgesic properties, why Tamanu oil is said to help the body to eliminate and remove pus that has gathered in the lesions.

Other essential oils to consider include:

  • Lavender (Lavendula angustifolia) – excellent for skin regeneration. It helps to heal wounds and scars and is a very calming oil. It also has analgesic properties and helps with anxiety and crankiness.
  • German Chamomile (Matricaria recutica) -analgesic, anti-inflammatory, temperature reducing. It has been found to be helpful in treating acne, boils, burns, wounds and ulcers.
  • Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) -anti-inflammatory and strongly antiseptic has been found helpful for acne, herpes, impetigo, wounds (infected) and cold sores.
  • Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini) – has antiseptic and cell regenerating properties. It has been useful for eczema (dry, wet & oozing), scars and wrinkles. It regulates sebum and aids in the regeneration of skin.
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – with its analgesic, calming and cooling properties has been found to be helpful for skin rashes.

Also let us not forget to add something that helps with their stress.  Certainly Lavender and German Chamomile might do the trick but there are lots of other oils to choose from, so add something that really helps them.  For me there is nothing like adding a drop or two of Rose or Neroli to a blend to really help ease the stress.

Back to the Article Archives Index for more articles like this.