While essential oils are safe and effective alternatives for natural health, there may be times when undesirable reactions occur. On the occasion that this happens, it’s important to be prepared so you know what to do.

In the following situations, you will see a recurring theme about needing to dilute the essential oils and to use carrier oil (instead of water) to relieve pain. We’ve included more information about why these things are important at the end of this article.

Burning Sensation

Problem: You experience a burning sensation after applying essential oils.
Immediate Solution: If you are experiencing a burning sensation, apply some carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, coconut oil, or olive oil to the area immediately to help dilute the essential oil and provide relief.
Long-Term Solutions: There are a few reasons you may experience a burning sensation:

  • The oil used may be considered a “hot” oil. Some examples of hot oils include cassia, cinnamon, oregano, and thyme. Other “warm” oils include black pepper, clove, Douglas fir, and lemongrass. When using these oils topically, it is best to dilute them with a carrier oil to avoid this burning sensation.
  • You could have sensitive skin. If this is the case, you should make sure to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil before you apply them topically.
  • You may be applying the oil to a sensitive area on your body. If you want to apply essential oils to a sensitive area, always dilute first!
  • Perhaps you tried adding essential oils to a bath without using an emulsifier like bath gel, epsom salt, cream, vegetable glycerin, etc. When you don’t mix essential oils with an emulsifier, they tend to float on top of the bathwater. This could result in an undiluted application to a very sensitive area of the body. It is important to use an emulsifier when adding essential oils to a bath.

Rash

Problem: A rash developed after applying essential oils.
Immediate Solution: Rub some carrier oil on the rash to help dilute the essential oils and provide relief.
Long-Term Solutions: If a rash occurs from application of oils to the skin, it may be due to the oils reacting with accumulated synthetic chemicals (toxins) that are trapped in the fatty layers of the skin. Here are a few things you can try next time you apply the oils:

  1. Dilute the oils first (1–3 drops of oil to 1/2 tsp. [2.5 ml] of carrier oil).
  2. Reduce the number of oils used with each application (use one oil at a time).
  3. Reduce the amount of oil (number of drops) used.
  4. Reduce the frequency of application (more time between applications).

Drinking pure water helps promote the elimination of accumulated toxins from the body. Initiating programs to cleanse the bowels and blood will also help remove toxins and reduce the possible recurrences of the rash. If the rashes persist, discontinue the use of oils and consult a healthcare professional.

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Oils in the Eyes

Problem: You accidentally got oils in your eyes, and they sting really bad.
Immediate Solution: Saturate a tissue with a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, coconut oil, or olive oil, and dab at your eyes until the pain goes away.
Long-Term Solutions:

  • We don’t recommend applying essential oils directly to the eye, but if needed, you can rub the oils around the bone surrounding the eye. However, be very careful about not letting the oil get into your eyes.
  • Even when you aren’t applying essential oils anywhere near your face, your hands likely have essential oils on them after applying oils to your body or to someone else. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap before touching your eyes after using essential oils.
  • Also, avoid putting essential oils on children’s hands and wrists; children have a particularly difficult time not touching or rubbing their eyes.

Ingested Too Much Oil

Problem: You ingested too much oil, or (more likely) you caught your child with an opened oil bottle and think they put it in their mouth.
Immediate Solution: The best thing to do is eat or drink milk, yogurt, or honey (if child is older than 12 months) to help dilute the ingested oil. You also may want to call poison control to see if they have any further instructions.
Long-Term Solutions:

  • Only use a very small amount of essential oil if you are taking it internally. Be sure to use only high-quality essential oils that are labeled for internal use. Also make sure to dilute the essential oils at least 1:1 with olive oil before ingesting.
  • Keep your essential oils out of reach of children to prevent situations like this.

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Essential Oil/Carrier Oil Stains on Clothing

Problem: An essential oil or carrier oil left a stain on clothing, fabric, wood, or furniture.
Immediate Solution: Soak up as much oil as possible with a paper towel; then treat as you would a grease stain.
Long-Term Solution: The best way to avoid this is to be careful with your oils and not use an excessive amount of them.

Why and How to Dilute Essential Oils

Since essential oils are very potent, and some oils may cause irritation, diluting the essential oil with a carrier oil is recommended. Children, pregnant women, and those with sensitive skin should always dilute essential oils. Diluting an essential oil in carrier oil is also a great way to help spread the essential oil over a larger area.

To dilute an essential oil, simply mix it with the recommended amount of carrier oil. You can do this at the time of application by mixing the oils in the palm of your hand or in a small glass dish; or you can prepare a diluted essential oil mixture ahead of time and store it in a bottle. A roll-on bottle (or roller bottle) is useful for diluting an essential oil for topical application and applying essential oils easily to the skin. A dropper bottle can help you easily dilute essential oils to take internally by capsule.

Click on any of the following links for more information:

The Art of Roller Bottle Blending (includes dilution recommendations)


Essential Oil Application: Topical

All About Carrier Oils—FAQs and Information Charts

Oils and Water Do NOT Mix

If you experience pain after applying essential oils for any of the reasons discussed above, it is very important not to run to the sink and try to use water. Here’s what Modern Essentials says to do: “ALWAYS use a vegetable oil such as fractionated coconut oil or olive oil to dilute the essential oil and relieve discomfort. NEVER use water to dilute the essential oil. Since water and oil don’t mix, placing water over the essential oil can actually drive the oil deeper into the tissue, increasing the feeling of discomfort. Placing a carrier oil over the essential oil will cause the essential oil to mix with and be dispersed within the carrier oil, helping to relieve discomfort” (Modern Essentials, 8th Edition, inside front cover).

Source: Modern Essentials™: A Contemporary Guide to the Therapeutic Use of Essential Oils, 8th Edition.