How Do I Know if I’m Sensitive to an Essential Oil?

How Do I Know if I’m Sensitive to an Essential Oil?

Essential oils provide a wide range of relief and natural remedies to soothe pain and discomfort. But did you also know you can be sensitive to an essential oil? Chances are you might have already been made aware of an essential oil that doesn’t work so well on your skin.

Sensitization is like a skin allergy that results in a rash with inflammation, bumpy or itchy skin, or eczema. Once you develop sensitization to an essential oil, it’s likely that you will stay permanently sensitized to that oil, no matter how much you try to dilute it! You’ll also likely experience reactions to other oils and products that contain these oils.

It’s important to remember that all essential oils are immensely concentrated and are very capable of triggering immediate or delayed hypersensitivity reactions in some people. When this happens, remove the substance causing irritation immediately, and never use essential oils undiluted on the skin.

With this list and the knowledge of how to do a skin patch test, you should be able to know what essential oils you may be sensitive to. Be careful when using essential oils, but remember they can offer a lot of relief to pain and physical discomfort when used right!

How to dilute an essential oil:

A 2% dilution of essential oil is generally accepted as a safe guideline for topical use of essential oils on adults. For kids or elderly, the dilution should be cut in half. Use only essential oils that are known to be safe for children. A good way to know if you’ve made a 2% dilution is to add 12 drops of an essential oil to each fluid ounce (30 ml) of a carrier oil, lotion, vegetable butter or other natural lipids/moisturizers. Below is a list of different carrier oils. 

List of carrier oils:

  • Almond Oil, Sweet

  • Apricot Kernel Oil

  • Avocado Oil

  • Black Cumin Seed Oil

  • Borage Seed Oil

  • Camellia Seed Oil

  • Cranberry Seed Oil

  • Coconut Oil, Fractionated

  • Coconut Oil, Virgin

  • Evening Primrose Oil

  • Grapeseed Oil

  • Hazelnut Oil

  • Hemp Seed Oil

  • Jojoba Oil

  • Kukui Nut Oil

  • Macadamia Nut Oil

  • Meadowfoam Oil

  • Olive Oil, Virgin

  • Peanut Oil

  • Pecan Oil

  • Pomegranate Seed Oil

  • Rose Hip Oil

  • Seabuckthorn Berry Oil

  • Sesame Oil

  • Sunflower Oil

  • Watermelon Seed Oil

It’s also suggested that before you try an essential oil for the first time to do a skin patch test. This helps in determining if you already have an existing sensitivity/irritation to a certain essential oil.

How to do a skin patch test:

  • Place 1-2 drops of a diluted essential oil on your inner forearm or back (which are the most appropriate regions for testing).

  • Apply a bandage to the area that you applied the diluted essential oil, and do not allow this area to get wet during the test.

  • If you feel the start of any irritation or if any reaction occurs, immediately remove the bandage and carefully wash the area with mild soap and water.

  • If no irritation occurs after 48 hours, then the essential oil (in its diluted form) should be safe for you to continue using on your skin!

Even after conducting a skin patch test, there’s no guarantee that you will not develop sensitization, irritation or an allergy to the oil over time. Avoid using essential oils that are hazardous or are known to cause sensitization/dermal irritation. Below is a list of essential oils that are hazardous and may cause sensitivity or irritation to your skin!

Hazardous essential oils:

  • Ajowan

  • Almond, Bitter

  • Arnica

  • Birch, Sweet

  • Boldo Leaf

  • Broom, Spanish

  • Calamus

  • Camphor, Brown

  • Camphor, Yellow

  • Deertongue

  • Garlic

  • Horseradish

  • Jaborandi

  • Melilotus

  • Mugwort

  • Mustard

  • Onion

  • Pennyroyal

  • Rue

  • Sassafras

  • Thuja

  • Wormseed

  • Wormwood

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