If you are under the care of a doctor for a certain health condition, please let your physician know about any essential oils you may be using or intend to try out. He or she can advise you on how to proceed.
It is possible for essential oils to produce an undesirable reaction in some people. If you are prone to allergies, use caution when breathing in or applying essential oil to the skin. For example, some individuals react to phenol, a compound of which is present in peppermint oil. This may result in shortness of breath. If this happens to you, either reduce the amount of oil used, blend with a milder oil, or avoid the offending essential oil altogether.
If you are allergic to the lavender plant, then lavender oil will likely irritate your skin or cause breathing problems if inhaled. Also note that a person may start out as being able to tolerate a specific oil, but can later develop a sensitivity to it. If an essential oil causes you discomfort of any kind, discontinue use.
Some people may have especially sensitive skin. If you are prone to skin reactions, test a sensitive area such as the inside of your wrist, before applying a certain essential oil to another, more exposed part of your body such as your face.
Most essential oils that are used topically should be diluted with a carrier oil such as olive oil, jojoba, coconut oil or almond oil. This is because they are either too potent to apply directly to the skin, or they tend to evaporate too quickly. The carrier oil acts as a base for the plant’s essence to cling to.
Some oils which may burn the skin and leave mild discoloration include lemon oil, cinnamon oil, and tea tree oil, when applied directly. If you do experience this, don’t panic. The skin discoloration will fade in a day or two. To stop the burning sensation, immediately wash the area where you have applied the oil with soap and water.
Certain essential oils may produce anxiousness or excitability – for example, peppermint oil, rosemary oil, thyme oil, fir tree oil or pine oil. You may decide to avoid using these oils altogether.
Or, you might try combining very small amounts of the more stimulating oils with other essential oils that are known to produce feelings of calm and well-being. For example, invigorating peppermint, peaceful lavender and mood-enhancing orange oil make a well-balanced blend that will be likely well received by your nose and nervous system.
If you’re pregnant, use extreme caution with essential oils. Check the label of each essential oil you purchase, to be sure of its safety. You may wish to avoid essential oils entirely if you’re expecting. Pregnant women who are over age 35 are considered to be in a higher-risk category, and should be extra cautious about anything they are exposed to. Even a too-warm bath, with or without essential oils added, can cause complications in an unborn baby, particularly in the first trimester.
Essential oils may not be appropriate for children age 4 and under. This again will depend on the type of oil used. For example, eucalyptus oil slows the breathing which can be dangerous for young children.
Tea tree oil contains terpenes, which are compounds also found in turpentine. This powerful substance makes tea tree a germ-fighting powerhouse but it may not be appropriate for the sensitive skin of children, even in minute amounts.