Essential Oil Safety and How to Administer a Skin Patch Test

5:27 PM Posted by jo

Essential oils are safe to use as long as you follow the recommended dosage and research the contraindications before you use them. Essential oils are more potent than the herbs so less amount is needed in order to achieve the desired effect. Never use the oils undiluted on the skin unless the product information for a specific oil say it is safe to do so. Tea tree and lavender can be used neat in tiny amounts on stings, wounds or a small burn.

Do your research
I highly recommend that you do your research when you use essential oils to make sure you know the contraindications of the oils you use. Some essential oils have low therapeutic margin which means  that the dividing line between therapeutic dose and a harmful dose is very small. These oils needs to be avoided orally and used with caution.
 I  actually don't recommend anyone to use essential oils orally unless you have consulted with professionals educated in essential oil safety. Extra care  is required when taking an essential oil orally since a higher amount of the oil would reach the circulation, and the liver would receive a large dose via the portal circulation,  which takes its blood from the gastrointestinal tract to the liver. Almost all of the reported cases of poisoning by essential oils has occurred by self-dosing of small quantities of undiluted essential oils.

Know the contraindications
Some oils need to be avoided in pregnancy, some oils can be toxic if not  correct dosage or duration is used, and other essential oils are contraindicated in specific illnesses. Essential oils should not be used at all in the first trimester.

Know the quality
The quality of the essential oils also differ and there is a chance that you come across oils diluted with harmful substances. It is very important to choose good quality essential oils for aromatherapy since many are diluted with harmful substances and they are of inferior quality. If you wonder if the oils you are using are safe you are welcome to contact me.

Some oils are skin irritants
Some oils are known skin irritants and therefor it is important to conduct a skin patch test before you use essential oils.  This is especially important if you have a history of allergies, asthma, or rashes. Some oils that may irritate the skins are: Anise, Basil, Bay, Black Pepper,  Cinnamon, Cedarwood, Clove Bud, Clove Leaf, Cajuput, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Oregano, Peppermint,  and Thyme

How to administer a skin patch test
A skin patch test can be conducted with a carrier oil or with undiluted essential oil. A skin patch test should be conducted when using oils listed as potential sensitizers or irritants.  As mentioned above individuals with allergies or asthma should always conduct a skin patch test before applying any essential oils. Always use the recommended dose when conducting the skin patch test.

When conducting a skin patch test using essential oils diluted in carrier oils you first wash and dry the forearm, then apply essential oil blend enough to moisten the arm. Cover the applied area with sterile gauze and leave for 24 hours If signs of irritation are shown, remove the gauze and avoid using that particular oil in the future.

When testing an undiluted essential oil, you wash the arm with unscented vegetable soap and dry before applying the oil. Add one drop of oil in the crook of the arm and close the arm, and open and close the arm again after five minutes. If any irritation is noticeable the applied area can be washed with cotton dipped in milk or vegetable oil.  Or simply wash with soap and water.

Oils not recommended in pregnancy are: 
Anise seed, basil, birch, cedarwood, clary sage, cypress, fennel, jasmine, juniper, sweet marjoram, myrrh, peppermint, rosemary, sage and thyme.

Essential oils not to be used by people prone to epilepsy are:
clary sage, cajuput, eucalyptus, Fennel, hyssop, lavender (lavandula stoechas), rosemary, sage and thyme

Essential oils not to be used by people with high blood pressure are:
 Cypress, cajuput, eucalyptus, Hyssop, rosemary, sage and thyme

Essential oils not to be used by people with asthma: 
camphor, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, yarrow

Essential oils not to be used by people with hypotension:
Clary sage and marjoram

Essential oils not to be used by people with liver disease are:
Clove bud and clove leaf, garlic, oregano, sassafras, thyme, vetiver.

Essential oils not to be used by people with stomach and intestinal ulcers:
Cinnamon bark

Essential oils not to be used by people with estrogen dependent cancer: 
Anise, basil and fennel

Essential oils which should not be used on the skin at all: 
Ajowan, cinnamon bark, cassia, clove leaf, clove bud, elecampane, oregano, pine (dwarf)

Essential oils which should be used with caution on the skin:
 basil (all varieties), cinnamon leaf, fir needle(Siberian), lemongrass, lemon, verbena, melissa, orange, peppermint, red and wild thyme.

Once again, please look into the contraindications of the essential oils you are using. Consult with your physician if you have existing medical conditions. 
This information is for educational purposes only and is not meant to prescribe.

Thanks for visiting!


Johanna is an aromatherapist and she is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. 

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