How to Use Essential Oils for Sinus Congestion

Eu Natural
May 13, 2018
Fact checked
Dr. Stephanie Nichols, ND

Essential oils are great for so many different types of ailments. One of my favorite ways to use essential oils is for nasal congestion – both from allergies and from infections. Why? Because I find them to be extremely effective.

Not sure how to incorporate these little bottles of goodness into your sinus treatment? No problem. I’m here to help. Below you will find a rundown of my 10 favorite essential oils for sinus congestion. Then I’ll teach you lots of different ways you can put them to good use.


Since your babies and little ones will inevitably deal with this too, I’ll wrap up with a word on which oils are safe for them!

Best Essential Oils for Sinus Congestion

So which are the top oils that help beat sinus congestion? Here are 10 of the absolute best!

  • Eucalyptus Oil: This is one of the most decongesting scents – no matter if your congestion comes from an infection or allergies. It’s the strong scent in popular vapor rubs. It’s also antispasmodic, so it helps open your blocked airways.
  • Peppermint Oil: The menthol found in peppermint oil is wonderful as a decongestant. Plus, it is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Tea Tree is both antimicrobial and antiseptic – kicking the germs causing your sinus infection. It’s versatile. So if you have any other uncomfortable symptoms alongside congestion, it can help.
  • Oregano Oil: This is one of the most potent antimicrobial oils around thanks to its compounds thymol and carvacrol (some call it nature’s “antibiotic”). It’s also quite hot and strong, so don’t overdo it.
  • Rosemary Oil: It’s antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. One of its best assets is helping calm down your inflamed sinuses.
  • Thyme Oil: Thyme has it all – it’s antibacterial and antiseptic, but it’s also anti-spasmodic (just like the eucalyptus) and acts as an expectorant. This helps you clear up in no time.
  • Clove Oil: This oil is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. It’s known for being quite strong, yet soothing at the same time.
  • Cinnamon Oil: Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory, so it can help decrease the swelling that’s blocking your sinuses.
  • Lemon Oil: This is one of the best detoxing oils, so it really supports your body’s abilities to heal itself. It’s an immune booster and helps kick any bug. Finally, it’s wonderful for allergies.
  • Lavender Oil: Of course, the ultimate multi-purpose oil would make the list. It’s mild, but still effective at helping to open up the sinuses. It can also calm your stress from being sick and improve allergy symptoms.

 How to Use Essential Oils for Sinus Congestion

woman with sinusitis

Now you know which essential oils are best, but how do you use them? There are lots of different ways you can use these oils to clear up your sinuses, so you can breathe and get back to feeling great. Let’s learn

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1. Diffuse Them

Our first method is one of the easiest ways to benefit from the essential oils for sinus congestion. Just put a few drops in a diffuser, turn it on, and you get fast relief. When my sinuses are congested, I tend to let my diffuser run for most of the day – and I definitely have it running as I fall asleep.

There are many different ways you can combine your oils in a diffuser, so experiment. To get you started, here is one of my favorite blends from The Miracle of Essential Oils:

Breathe Easy

  • 3 drops eucalyptus
  • 3 drops peppermint
  • 3 drops rosemary

If these scents feel too strong for you, add a drop of lemon or lavender to help calm them down a bit. Definitely include a couple drops of lavender as you’re going to bed, so you can fall asleep more quickly.

2. Steam Them

Steam itself is great for unclogging congested airways. When you add essential oils, it’s like decongestant double two.

There’s two main ways I like to steam my essential oils:

  • The first is to add a few drops to a hot bath or shower. Make sure the bathroom door is closed, so the steam fills up the room. Not only will you get the decongestant benefits, but the bath will also soothe any muscle aches you have.
  • The second is to make a facial steam. Boil water, then move it to a stable table. Add your essential oils. Put your face above the steaming water (not too close, just close enough that the steam can enter your nose). Then place a towel over both your head and the bowl. Breathe in deeply for a few minutes. For this, I like to use the stronger oils like eucalyptus and clove.

3. Massage Them

Using essential oils for congestion topically is really helpful. Once again, you have a lot of options that will bring you considerable relief.

Facial Massage

Massaging your sinuses can help break up some of that congestion. Here’s how I do it. I use a non-comedogenic face oil like jojoba oil (coconut oil can break you out). Add one or two drops of essential oils. Definitely stick with the gentlest oils for this – lavender and tea tree.

Rub the sinus areas in small, circular motions. But be careful not to get into the eye area. I focus mainly on my forehead and cheeks. If you have a sinus headache, move the facial massage along your temples as well.

Foot Massage

Did you know your feet are one of the best places on your body to absorb essential oils? Since the skin here is a bit more hardy than facial skin, I like to use some of the stronger oils like clove and cinnamon. Of course, I still heavily dilute them with coconut oil or jojoba oil.

DIY Vapor Rub

You can easily make an all-natural vapor rub to help you decongest (and tame a cough if you have that too!). One of my favorites is this recipe for DIY vapor rub can be found on this video. Watch for step-by-step instructions:

What About the Kids?

Not every essential oil is safe for little ones of all ages. Here are the best oils for congestion that are safe for them and the best ways to apply them according to The Hippy Homemaker:

  • Lavender: Safe for babies 3 months or older
  • Lemon: Safe for babies 6 months or older
  • Tea Tree: Safe for babies 6 months or older
  • Clove: Safe for children 2 years or older
  • Oregano: Safe for children 2 years or older
  • Thyme: Safe for children 2 years or older
  • Peppermint: Safe for children 6 years or older
  • Eucalyptus: Safe for children 10 years or older
  • Rosemary: Safe for children 10 years or older

*Note on Cinnamon: Cinnamon bark oil can be too much for little ones, so choose cinnamon leaf instead. While you can use it on babies 6 months or older, you should dilute it more than usual.

It’s important to realize that anytime you put an oil on your baby topically, it needs to be heavily diluted. Check out the The Hippy Homemaker blog to learn more about proper dilution and essential oil use with your children.

Once you understand dilution, how can you use these oils?

  • Diffuse them at age appropriate times!
  • Use them topically at the appropriate dilution rate!

Sinus Relief with Essential Oils

At the end of the day, the best way to fight sinus congestion is to use multiple all-natural methods. On top of your essential oils, you may want to utilize the power of natural supplements that support the sinuses and respiratory system. Some of my favorites are butterbur and nettle extract, though boswellia and quercetin are extremely useful too.

When joined with these fabulous essential oils for congestion, you will be able to say hello to easy breathing once again!


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