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5 min read / 12 December 2023 / yasmin sharp

Best Essential Oils for Sinus Congestion

Explore the top essential oils for sinus congestion relief, including tea tree, turmeric, and eucalyptus oils.

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There are certain smells that clear sinuses, and essential oils can play a big role in helping to clear airways to make it easier to breathe.

Whilst hay fever can wreak havoc during the warmer months, the arrival of cold and flu strains in the autumn and winter means irritable sinuses are never too far away.

If you prefer an all-natural solution, we look at some of the best essential oils you can use for sinus congestion and infections, which will hopefully give you some much needed relief when you need it most.

Can I use essential oils for congestion?

Some essential oils can provide smells that clear sinuses, with many people using them to ease congestion and infections.

Sinus congestion can happen because of a cold, inflammation, allergies or bacteria, affecting people in lots of different ways.

Essential oils aren’t for everyone, so if you have an allergy to a particular type of oil or notice an allergic reaction after completing a patch test, you should use an alternative medicine to clear your sinuses.

Woman smelling oil from a bottle outside

What are the best essential oils for congestion?

Some of the best essential oils for congestion include:

Cure a runny nose with tea tree oil

Whether inhaled or diffused, tea tree essential oil can help to reduce inflammation in the windpipe and combat any infections that may be present.

This is a particularly strong oil, so take extra care to follow the dilution directions and when inhaling close to the nose.

Turmeric essential oil can ease nasal congestion

Turmeric is another essential oil that contains anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

It’s been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to unblock sinuses and ease congestion and could help to make it easier for you to breathe.

Unblock your nose by inhaling eucalyptus oil

The natural antifungal and decongestant properties of eucalyptus oil make it a go-to option for many people during the colder months of the year.

Quite notably, it is also the main ingredient of Olbas Oil, which is renowned for its ability to clear sinuses and open nasal passages.

Woman sat in bed blowing her nose

What are the best essential oils for a sinus infection?

If you need to clear a sinus infection, also known as sinusitis, you could try:

Clearing your sinuses with peppermint essential oil

Menthol is the main compound of peppermint essential oil, which contains the right kind of properties to treat a sinus infection.

It can work as an antifungal, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, helping to relieve some of the symptoms you are experiencing.

Tea tree essential oil to reduce inflammation

Bacteria and the inflammation of sinus tissue are usually the main cause of sinus congestion and infections.

Tea tree essential oil has antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that may make it easier to cope with bunged up and irritable sinuses.

Clearing airways with a natural decongestant like eucalyptus oil

As we mentioned above, eucalyptus oil is the main ingredient of Olbas Oil, and it also features in several other products for colds and coughs.

Its main compound is 1,8 cineole, which can clear the air of bacteria and other microbes, whilst also removing mucus and suppressing coughs.

Man smelling diffuser steam in his living room

How to use essential oils for a sinus infection

Here are some suggestions on how you can use essential oils for a sinus infection or to ease congestion.

Steam inhalation

To create a therapeutic steam that can clear your airways, you can try the following:

  1. Add 3-7 drops of an essential oil to a bowl of boiling hot water and mix well.
  2. Cover your head with a towel and lean over the bowl taking care not to touch the water.
  3. Close your eyes to prevent any irritation.
  4. Breathe in through your nose for no longer than 2 minutes at a time.

Do this for about 10-15 minutes, taking breaks as needed to cool your face due to the hot steam.

Direct inhalation

Another option to clear a blocked nose with essential oil is to inhale directly from the bottle:

  1. Open the essential oil bottle.
  2. Breathe the scent into your nose to clear your sinus.
  3. You can also add a drop of oil to a cotton ball, tissue or handkerchief.

If you are at work or away from your home for other reasons, this method means you can inhale and unblock your nose no matter where you are.


Dispersing an essential oil through a diffuser or oil burner enables the properties of the oil to be released into the air so you can naturally breathe them in.

There are a few different types of diffuser, including evaporative, nebulisers, ultrasonic and reed sticks, so follow the instructions provided with the product to enjoy your chosen scent.

However, diffusing an essential oil to clear your sinuses is a less potent method of inhalation, so you may want to try something else if your airways remain blocked.

Aromatherapy bath

Taking an aromatherapy bath allows the properties of the essential to soak into your skin as you naturally breathe them in:

  1. Fill the bath as normal to your preferred temperature.
  2. Dilute a few drops of the essential oil with a carrier oil and add to the bathwater.
  3. Step into the bath and relax as your sinuses gradually begin to clear.

Alternatively, you can add a few undiluted drops of the essential oil to a bubble bath product and add this to the water instead.

Black and white botanical illustration

Our blocked nose essential oil suggestions should help you find the right one to ease some of your symptoms.

Tea tree oil, eucalyptus, peppermint and turmeric essential oils are the most commonly used natural treatments, as they contain natural properties that can reduce inflammation and combat bacteria.

And when it comes to using these essential oils as medication, you can inhale their properties via steam inhalation, directly from the bottle, as part of an aromatherapy bath or via a diffuser, depending on what works best for you.

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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