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Allergies and Essential Oils

Updated on December 27, 2015

Safety Concerns of Essential Oils

Essential oils are considered to be generally safe as compared to other synthetic medications. But you also need to take certain amount of precaution since some oils are too strong such that it can cause irritation and result in allergies for individuals with highly sensitive skin. Hence, you need to always think about safety issues when using essential oils so you can optimize its benefits. This involves choosing the right type of oil to use, using the right amount of dosage, potential reactions when mixed with other oils, handling or storing processes.

One of the biggest safety issues that arise with the use of essential oils come in the form of allergies. Depending on each individual, there are different forms of allergens and some plant oils can be a bit too strong for most people that they develop allergies from it.

Hypersensitivity

The natural fragrance emitted by natural essential oils are one reason why they are commonly used as ingredients for making perfumes. But did you know that applying essential oil perfumes could often result to allergic reactions? Hypersensitivity is a type of allergic response exhibited by the body when exposed to certain irritants and allergens. In some cases, subsequent exposure increase the risk of developing allergies or the reactions produced from the antigen that is introduced into your body.

There are several reports of individuals acquiring contact allergy as a result of wearing perfumes or fragrances, even the ones made out of essential oils. In some cases, the perfume oil itself is not allergic but becomes highly toxic to the skin after sometime of air exposure. Hence, you need to be more careful when choosing the perfume you use, even the ones containing natural essential oil, to avoid such allergies from happening.

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Autoxidation

This is another form of allergy that is closely linked to the use of essential oils. Unlike the one above wherein allergy could be caused by the body's natural composition, this one is influenced by environmental or external factors. However, you cannot take out the fact that those with naturally sensitive skin or are currently allergic to using oils are still at risk. Anyone who has been using aromatherapy should know that there are several conditions that could intervene with the natural quality of the oil, which could potentially turn a beneficial substance such as essential oil into a harmful and toxic material.

There are several types of oil that could result in autoxidation, but lavender oil is one of those highly recognized of them. Exposure to oxygen causes these oils to produce a type of allergen known as hyperoxide. Another such oil is geraniol oil, which creates an allergen known as geranial when exposed to oxygen. Both types of allergen create an inflammation of the skin when directly applied onto the skin.

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Possible Allergies Caused by Essential Oil Use

There are also a few notable oils that specifically cause allergy to an individual upon use. These oils are quite common and widely used in the field of aromatherapy. Hence, you need to educate yourself on these allergies and how you can prevent it from happening.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint is one of the most commonly used essential oils in aromatherapy for it has the ability to treat a wide range of common conditions. However, recent research studies have shown that the strength of the oil can be too much such that one is at risk of developing allergies from using it. Applying it on your skin or mouth puts one at risk of developing hypersensitive reactions and other complications. Therefore, you must always consult with an expert physician before opting to use peppermint oil for your natural home remedies.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is considered as one of the gentle and safe types of oil to use in aromatherapy treatment. But in recent times, there is a growing number of users who have reported allergic reactions that lead to the formation of dermatitis after using tea tree oil. Experts believe that using above 5 percent solution of this oil can certainly cause allergies and other negative side effects. So next time you use it, make sure to take only the prescribed amount or dosage.

Making Aromatherapy Products : When to Avoid Aromatherapy?

Other Potentially Allergic Essential Oils

The ones listed above are just the oils that are at the most risk for causing allergies. However, there are so much more oils that you need to be warned at since they could potentially result to certain allergies as well. Here are just some of them:

  • Cinnamon
  • Oregano
  • Wintergreen
  • Parsley Seed
  • Black Pepper
  • Peppermint
  • Cassia
  • Basil
  • Fir
  • Tea Tree
  • Cumine
  • Melissa
  • Thyme
  • Birch
  • Bay

Precautions for Sensitive Skin

Those with highly sensitive skin are expected to take extra precautionary measures when using essential oils to avoid inciting harsh skin reactions. Hence, you must be more focused on preventing reactions for sensitive skin as much as it is important to know how to properly manage allergies.

Here are a few additional guidelines to think about to avoid developing allergies from essential oils:

  • Avoid using essential oils on children or babies.
  • Always perform a skin patch test before applying a large amount of oil into any part of your body.
  • Never take essential oils internally, unless advised by an expert aromatherapist.
  • As soon as the first sign of irritation or allergy starts to manifest, wash the affected area immediately to remove any remnant of the oil properties and discontinue use.
  • Take note not only on which oils are considered to be highly allergic, but take time to determine which specific oils you are personally allergic to.

Importance of Patch Test

Anyone with an existing allergy or has highly sensitive skin, performing a patch test is a must before using essential oils, especially for those method of application with direct skin contact. This is also advised if you are using a new type of essential oil, or something that you do not know what possible skin reactions you might have.

To perform the patch test, take a tiny sample of the diluted essential oil that you intend to use and apply it onto a tiny patch on your skin. Then, wait for 12 hours or up to one day to observe any form of reaction. Allergic reactions are typically characterized by itching, redness, or swelling on the specific area of the skin. When none of these allergic signs appear, then you can proceed to using the essential oil without worrying about any possible allergies.

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