It’s pretty clear by now that we at Skinny & Co. love essential oils. That being said, some of the most common questions and concerns surrounding aromatherapy is its safety. In this blog, we’ll discuss the safety and potential side effects of essential oils.
Essential oil safety
Essential oils offer quite a few health benefits (such as skin-healing properties) and can be used to treat the symptoms of a number of ailments, but the reality is that they should not be used as a cure for conditions that require medical treatment. Additionally, the safety of essential oils often depends on a number of factors, including your age, underlying health conditions, and what medications or supplements you are currently taken. Naturally, it’s always important to talk to your doctor before and during essential oil use.
Essential oil side effects
To ensure you are getting the best healing benefits of essential oils, it’s important to understand the possible side effects that some (but definitely not all) people experience. They include the following:
- Poisoning if applied directly to the skin
- Phototoxicity if applied before sun exposure
Examples of side effects
It’s important to remember that everyone’s body is different, and as such, they have different tolerances and reactions to essential oils. Among the most commonly acknowledged essential oils that result in side effects are the ones listed below.
Bergamot can be used as a natural antiseptic but can make the skin sensitive to the sun. It’s best to avoid direct sunlight for 12 hours after applying it to your skin, even in its most diluted form.
Clary sage oil
Clary sage oil is known for its calming properties and benefits to the skin. That being said, it has been shown to induce contractions and should be avoided by pregnant women.
Peppermint is often praised for its stomach soothing benefits. However, it should not be used on infants or small children, as it can result in very serious breathing problems.
Eucalyptus is one of the essential oils known most for its interactions with certain medications. For example, it may cause certain drugs used for seizures, narcolepsy, and ADHD to be less effective. It can also bring on asthma attacks.
Cinnamon bark can be found in shampoos and lotions, but is also known to irritate some people’s skin. People with seasonal allergies are advised to avoid this essential oil, as reactions to it may be exacerbated.
How to safely use essential oils
There are a couple of things that can be done to help ensure essential oils are used in the safest way possible. Perhaps the most commonly acknowledged and practiced way of doing this and preventing adverse reactions is by diluting the essential oils. Many people do this by using a carrier oil (which are typically vegetable-based); carrier oils quite literally carry essential oils safely onto your skin while also helping you spread it over a large surface area. Not surprisingly, coconut oil is among the best carrier oils thanks to its skin-nourishing properties.
Even if your essential oil is diluted, it is always best to do a patch test on your skin to see if any reactions occur before you apply the essential oil across a large area of skin. To conduct a patch test, do the following:
- Use unscented soap to wash your forearm.
- Pat dry your arm with a clean, dry towel.
- Rub a few drops of diluted essential oil onto a small patch on your arm.
- Wrap your arm in gauze, and wait 24 hours to see if there is a reaction.
- Remove the gauze and examine your arm. If the skin patch is red, itchy, blistering, or swollen, you have had an adverse reaction. Discontinue use if this is the case.
If you experience discomfort before the 24-hour patch test has concluded, immediately wash your arm with gentle soap and warm water. Additionally, if you experience discomfort or a reaction, consult your doctor if the situation worsens after washing your arm and removing the essential oil.
Again, the most important things to remember when using essential oils are that everyone’s body can react differently to essential oils (or any medications or supplements, really) and that essential oils that result in adverse reactions should be discontinued from use immediately.
That being said, Skinny & Co. firmly believes that essential oils are worth a try when used correctly. To shop our aromatherapy products that use the safest, therapeutic-grade essential oils on the market, head here. You can also read our aromatherapy blogs to learn about all of the positive benefits and effects essential oils provide people.