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Essential Oils & Skin Sensitivity


Influential Factors to be Aware of:

Quality is an extremely important characteristic of essential oils, and it can have an enormous impact on individuals using essential oils on sensitive skin. Unadulterated essential oils are inferior to pure essential oils, and increase the potential adverse reactions.


Chemical Composition of the essential oils is another factor that can result in adverse reactions. Essential oils that are heavy in phenols and aldehydes may enhance adverse reactions on individuals with sensitive skin. These essential oils should be diluted properly before being applied topically to the flesh.


Method of Applying Essential Oils may also increase the likelihood of adverse reactions. Essential oils can be inhaled individually, applied topically, ingested, or diffused throughout an environment. As this article details skin sensitivity, we will focus on this foremost; however, it should be noted that there are safety concerns to be aware of with all other methods of application as well. Skin reactions which may occur as a direct result of topical application methods include; irritation, photosensitization, and sensitization, which will be discussed later in this post.


Dosage & Dilution may have an impact on adverse skin reactions when working with essential oils. Diluting essential oils is highly recommended regardless of brand name or purity, especially when being used on small children and infants.


Skin Integrity of the individual the essential oils are being used on topically, will also come into play. Individuals who have a skin disease, damaged skin, or irritated skin, are often more susceptible to essential oils, and may exhibit serious signs of adverse reactions.


An Individual’s Age will also have an impact on their ability to absorb and use essential oils. Infants, small children and the elderly often have more sensitive skin issues to contend with. Due to this fact, it is highly recommended that essential oils be diluted, in many cases to reduce the concentration level of the oils, prior to applying them topically to the skin.


Adverse Dermal Reactions:

When present, a dermal irritant will exhibit an almost immediate reaction of the skin, often appearing as blotchy, patchy, redness which may also be accompanied by pain. The concentration applied will dictate the severity of the reaction; undiluted essential oils will cause more severe responses.


Another possible allergic reaction involves dermal sensitization. This type of reaction is often apparent immediately after exposure to a specific essential oil. Initial effects may not be readily available on the skin; however, continued repetitive use of the same essential oil may result in red, blotchy, and patchy skin accompanied by pain. Once an individual becomes sensitized to a specific essential oil, there is a better than average chance they will remain sensitized to it for a period of years, and quite possibly for the remainder of their life.


Photosensitization is also a possibility with several essential oils. This type of reaction can range from mild to severe. In mild cases the most notable effect is the changing of skin color when exposed to the sun. In severe cases the most notable reaction is weeping wounds. These are deep burns of the skin which result in pain and possible infection.


Safety Suggestions:

Keep all essential oils out of reach of children. Individuals using photosensitizing essential oils should refrain from going out into the sun, or into environments with UV lighting, for a period of at least 24 hours. Avoid using undiluted essential oils on the skin. Research and understand the safety data associated with each individual essential oil prior to considering it for use.


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