Essential oils are highly concentrated products and many of them can cause adverse reactions to the skin if they are directly applied without diluting them with carrier oils.

Skin Irritation

Skin irritation refers to the inflammation which results from the skin’s reaction to certain types of essential oils. Its severity usually depends on the skin’s exposure to the oil. According to aromatherapy experts and health experts, the high phenol content of certain essential oils is responsible for the irritation on the skin.

Here’s a list of essential oils that has the potential to cause skin irritation:

Ajowan, bitter almond, arnica, sweet birch, boldo leaf, Spanish broom, calamus, brown camphor, yellow camphor, deertongue, garlic, horseradish, jaborandi, melilotus, mugwort, mustard, onion, pennyroyal, rue, sassafras, thuja, wintergreen, Wormseed, and wormwood.

Other essential oils that can cause irritation include allspice, bay laurel, benzoin, cassia, cinnamon bark and leaves, clove, fennel, fir, needle, oregano, parsley, sage, spruce, tagetes, and thyme.

In case of skin irritation, you should stop using the essential oil that caused it.

Dermal Sensitization

Dermal or skin sensitization is a condition that happens when the skin reacts to certain essential oils that are applied. The common manifestations of skin sensitization include rashes, blotches, blisters, and itching.

It is triggered by the reaction of your body’s immune system to the offending oil. This allergenic reaction causes the immune system to form antibodies to stop the possible harmful effects of the essential oil.

Essential oils that can potentially cause skin sensitization include:

Ajowan, bitter almond, arnica, sweet birch, boldo leaf, Spanish broom, calamus, brown camphor, yellow camphor, deertongue, garlic, horseradish, jaborandi, melilotus, mugwort, mustard, onion, pennyroyal, rue, sassafras, thuja, wintergreen, Wormseed, and wormwood, anise, bay laurel, benzoin, cassia, catnip, cinnamon bark and leaves, citronella, clove, fennel, lemongrass, litsea, cubeba, melissa, oakmoss, peru balsam, pine, star anise, and tagetes.

As a safety precaution, you should avoid using undiluted essential oils on your skin because it can potentially cause severe irritation or sensitization. You should learn to dilute essential oils in order to avail of their topical application benefits.

Do not immediately apply essential oils on your skin even in their diluted form if you have not used them previously. You should test their effects on your skin first by performing the skin patch test.

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