Essential oils can cause serious skin reactions, experts warn

While most essential oils are harmless, some oils can cause serious skin reactions when used without proper precautions.

"Consumers tend to assume that anything that comes from a plant is safe. But I always tell them that poison ivy comes from a plant, and you certainly don't want to rub that on your skin," dermatologist Patricia Farris said.

Master aromatherapist Wendy Dearborne learned that lesson the hard way. She applied cinnamon oil on her arm and immediately noticed irritation.

"My hand started to get red then it was hot. I was like 'Oh no, I'm having a serious reaction to this,'" said Dearborne.

Farris explains that reactions can vary from itching and irritation to sometimes full-blown rashes, blisters, crusting and oozing.

In order to prevent serious skin reactions, Farris suggests consulting with a dermatologist or testing the product on a small area of skin first.

"We tell patients to do something called a 'use test' where they apply a little bit of oil to their fingertip and then apply it behind the ear. They do this for several nights in a row, and if they can do it for a week, they're probably not going to have an allergic reaction or an irritation from that oil," Farris explained.

When used properly, oils can be effective for those seeking natural remedies.

Oil should never be ingested, and it is best to avoid applying them near the eye area.

Pregnant women should also seek medical advice before using essential oils.
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