Safety Tips for Essential Oils
Essential oils are concentrated, potent plant extracts and should be used with reasonable care. Essential oils are very effective and safe when used appropriately. It takes a small amount to induce a powerful benefit.
Never apply oils directly to the eyes or ear canals. After applying essential oils, avoid eye contact or the touching of sensitive areas. If essential oils enter the eyes, place a drop of carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil, in the eye and blink until the oils clear. Never use water, as oils and water don’t mix or help with dilution.
Some oils are “warm”, creating a heat-like sensation on the skin, and should be diluted with a carrier oil when used topically. These oils can include birch, cassia, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, ginger, lemongrass, oregano, peppermint, thyme, and wintergreen. With babies, children, and those with sensitive skin or compromised health, it is particularly important to exercise caution or avoidance with these same oils, as they can be a temporary irritant or overly potent to delicate skin. When using these oils internally, it is best to consume in a gelatin or vegetable capsule.
Some oils contain furocoumarins, a constituent that can cause skin to be photosensitive. Photosensitive oils react to sources of UV rays. the higher the concentration of furanoids, the greater the sensitivity. Oils with concentrated amounts of furanoids include any cold pressed citrus oil such as bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, and lime, with lesser amounts in wild orange. Internal use of these oils is typically not a problem. It is best to wait a minimum of twelve hours after topical application of photosensitive oils before being exposed to UV rays.
Most essential oils applied topically and used reasonably are safe to be used during pregnancy and nursing. Some individuals prefer to avoid internal use during pregnancy and some use essential oils only aromatically during the pregnancy and some use essential oils only aromatically during the first trimester. Several oils may be helpful during and after delivery. Internal use of peppermint essential oil should be avoided while nursing as it may reduce milk supply.
- Avoid eyes, ears, and nose (if oils come in contact with these areas it's not harmful, but uncomfortable - dilute with an oil like coconut oil, olive oil, not water)
- Avoid exposing area of application to sunlight for 12 hours after using citrus oils topically (but of course we should be using sunscreen anyway)
- Dilute oils for children and sensitive skin with fractionated coconut oil