Shingles essential oils: Risks and relief

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in three people in the United States will develop shingles. Vaccines available to older people can help to prevent the condition, though they are not entirely effective.

While scientific evidence does not fully support this application, many people try using essential oils to alleviate symptoms of shingles. When appropriate precautions are in place, some oils may help to provide relief.

Essential oils for shingles

Researchers have found that certain essential oils have antiviral and pain-relieving properties. Though further studies are needed, some evidence suggests that these oils may help to alleviate pain and itchiness associated with shingles.

The following essential oils may help:

  • peppermint oil
  • capsaicin oil
  • geranium oil
  • thyme oil
  • lemon oil

Shingles is characterized by a rash on one side of the body. The torso is often affected.

A person with shingles may experience:

  • a painful, red rash
  • increased skin sensitivity
  • burning, tingling, or numbness
  • itching
  • blisters that burst and crust over

Additional symptoms can include:

  • light sensitivity
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • headaches

Shingles and chickenpox are caused by the same virus, which is known as herpes zoster. Long after a person has recovered from chicken pox, the dormant virus can reactivate as shingles.


Using essential oils may help to relieve some symptoms of a shingles rash. However, essential oils should not replace medical treatment.

These oils are not appropriate for all people, as they can cause allergic reactions. Otherwise, they carry very little risk.

More research is needed to fully establish whether essential oils can provide relief from shingles-related pain. However, when properly diluted in a carrier oil, certain oils may act as a supplementary remedy.

Consult a doctor before using essential oil to alleviate shingles symptoms. Some oils may interfere with medications or make symptoms worse.

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