Lumps and swelling can stem from a number of maladies. Lumps can apply to a range of skin conditions, including boils, cold sores, breast lumpiness, hemorrhoids and acne. Swelling might refer to those issues, or to a more generalized swelling, as with fluid retention. Fortunately, the essential oils that tend to have anti-inflammatory effects on lumps and swelling tend to be broad-spectrum applications. Always check with your doctor before attempting any herbal or aromatherapy home treatment.
Apply chamomile oil directly onto the swollen area, suggests the University of Maryland Medical Center. While German chamomile and Roman chamomile are somewhat interchangeable, the German, or blue, type works best for internal applications like lumps and swelling, notes herbalist Jeanne Rose. The azulene content in German chamomile not only acts as an anti-inflammatory, but also possesses disinfectant properties, making it doubly useful for insect bites and other wounds in which swelling is coupled with discharge. Gently apply one or two drops onto the swollen area with a dropper. For a larger area, soak a clean cloth in an essential oil-water formula for use as a compress. To ease breast lumps and engorgement, herbalist Kathi Keville’ book “Herbs for Health and Healing” recommends a warm compress soaked in chamomile, calendula, ginger and lavender essential oils, alternated with a plain cold water compress.
When swelling is caused by water retention, either as a result of salty foods or because of premenstrual tension, adding essential oils to the bath may be the best strategy. Author Bill Gottlieb’s “New Choices in Natural Healing” suggests adding 60 drops total of juniper, cypress and geranium essential oils to a warm bath. Juniper’s ability to extract fluids from the skin also makes it useful for conditions such as genital warts. Add three drops to a basin of warm water and use it as a sitz bath.
Use cypress oil in much the same way you might use juniper, suggests Rose. Both work well in the bath to relieve water retention and other swelling-related issues. When used in a compress, cypress oil has astringent effects on overactive sweat and oil glands, making it useful for lumps associated with clogged glands.
Tea Tree Oil
For stubborn boils and other abscesses, turn to tea tree oil. Take a shower or bath to soften the area, then apply one drop directly to the boil, suggests Gottlieb. Repeat daily until it the lump disappears. Tea tree oil comes from the Australian tree Melaleuca alternifolia. While it is considered extremely potent, tea tree oil can be applied to the skin without dilution. Other swelling-related maladies for which it can be used include acne, cold sores, insect bites and dental abscesses, according to Jeanne Rose. Additionally, “its bacterial action is increased where blood or pus are present,” Rose reports.
Add geranium oil to a bath to help ease swelling associated with fluid retention. It also reduces swelling on cold sores, acne and bug bites. The oil, also known as rose geranium oil, derives from the flowering herb Pelargonium graveolens. It is considered useful for balancing oil glands which lead to inflamed skin, as well as helping to deal with swelling from hemorrhoids, acne and cold sores. Dilute it in a carrier oil or bath water for topical applications.
- "The Aromatherapy Book"; Jeanne Rose; 1992
- University of Maryland Medical Center: German Chamomile
With a focus on food, nutrition, cocktails and the latest dining trends, Melissa J. has been a freelance writer for more than 15 years. Her specialties include articles for such publications as SF Chronicle and National Geographic Green Living, as well as blog posts for the hospitality industry. Her previous positions include newspaper staff reporter and communications specialist for a nonprofit agency.