What oils to use for allergies

People with nasal allergies and asthma, especially those allergic to weed pollens, should use extreme caution with using essential oils, especially when diffusing or ingesting the oils. Essential oils are made from various plant products, generally weeds, which may contain significant allergens—especially when the flowers of the plants are being used. Inhaling or ingesting these essential oils could result in symptoms or nasal and eye allergies, and even asthma symptoms. It is possible that these symptoms could be dangerous and even life-threatening in extremely sensitive individuals.


Non-Allergic Rhinitis

Even if a person doesn’t normally suffer from nasal allergies doesn’t mean that he or she wouldn’t own some form of nasal symptoms as a result of using essential oils.

Strong odors from the use of essential oils—including from diffusing, ingesting or topical use—could result in nasal symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion or postnasal drip. These symptoms aren’t always a result of nasal allergies. People without allergies can still experience symptoms as a result of an irritant effect from the strong odors.

There is no test for non-allergic rhinitis per se; this is a diagnosis of exclusion that is made as a result of not finding any allergic cause of a person’s nasal symptoms.

However, the symptoms are genuine, and often more hard to treat than those of allergic rhinitis. Avoidance of irritant triggers, however, remains the mainstay of the treatment of non-allergic rhinitis.

If you suffer from contact dermatitis from fragrances, own a history of allergies to weed pollens, own significant asthma or chronic nasal symptoms, I would highly recommend speaking with your physician, allergist or dermatology prior to the use of any essential oil product.

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Additional Reading

  1. Cheng J, Zug KA. Perfume Contact Dermatitis. Dermatitis. 2014; 25(5):232-45.

Q: I’ve read differing views about peanut oil. Some tell it’s safe for those with peanut allergy because it is “most often” highly refined and would contain no protein.

The problem I own is, how would we know if it is the highly refined helpful and therefore safe? What’s your view?

Dr. Sicherer: The trigger of peanut allergic reactions is peanut protein, not fat or oil.

Highly refined peanut oil is generally considered safe for those with peanut allergy because the processing separates the protein from the oil. The resulting refined oil has negligible residual protein.

In contrast, “crude,” “extruded,” “cold-pressed,” “gourmet” or “aromatic” oils are not refined.

These unrefined oils contain enough peanut protein to trigger an allergic reaction.

The unrefined, gourmet oils may more likely be used in high-end products and by restaurants for added flavor.

Confusion Can Arise

You are correct that there may be some confusion about what type of oil you may be getting, and it would not be safe to assume it is “most often” the refined type. This is why numerous allergists propose avoiding every peanut oils to reduce risks.

If your allergist is comfortable with you or your kid consuming refined peanut oil, then you will need to take grand care to ensure that you use only products with this type of oil.

This will likely involve contacting a manufacturer or restaurant chain, and checking each time.

Dr. Scott Sicherer is a practicing allergist, clinical researcher and professor of pediatrics. He is Director of the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute and Chief of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. He’s also the author of Food Allergies: A Finish Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends On It.

More Grand Reading:

Feeding Babies and Toddlers to Protect Against Food Allergies
Is Someone With a Peanut Allergy More Likely to Develop a Sesame Seed Allergy?
Will a Peanut-Allergic Kid Also React to Chickpeas?

Submit a Question View every posts by this medical expert.

Peanut is one of eight allergens with specific labeling requirements under the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004. Under that law, manufacturers of packaged food products that contain peanut as an ingredient that are sold in the U.S. must include the expression “peanuts” in clear language on the ingredient label.

To avoid the risk of anaphylactic shock, people with a peanut allergy should be extremely careful about what they eat. Peanuts and peanut products may be found in candies, cereals and baked goods such as cookies, cakes and pies. If you’re eating out, enquire the restaurant staff about ingredients — for example, peanut butter may be an ingredient in a sauce or marinade.

Be additional careful when eating Asian and Mexican food and other cuisines in which peanuts are commonly used. Even ice cream parlors may be a source for accidental exposures, since peanuts are a common topping.

Foods that don’t contain peanuts as an ingredient can be contaminated by peanuts in the manufacturing process or during food preparation. As a result, people with a peanut allergy should avoid products that bear cautionary statements on the label, such as “may contain peanuts” or “made in a factory that uses nut ingredients.” Note that the use of those advisory labels is voluntary.

It may be a excellent thought to discuss with your allergist the risks of consuming products with voluntary labeling.

If you’re cooking from scratch, it’s simple to modify recipes to remove peanut ingredients and substitute ingredients that aren’t allergens, such as toasted oats, raisins or seeds. Most people who can’t tolerate peanuts or eat peanut butter can consume other nut or seed butters. Hold in mind that these products may be manufactured in a facility that also processes peanuts — so check the label carefully and contact the manufacturer with any questions.

Many individuals with an allergy to peanuts can safely consume foods made with highly refined peanut oil, which has been purified, refined, bleached and deodorized to remove the peanut protein from the oil.

Unrefined peanut oil — often characterized as extruded, cold-pressed, aromatic, gourmet, expelled or expeller-pressed — still contains peanut protein and should be avoided. Some products may use the phrase “arachis oil” on their ingredient lists; that’s another term for peanut oil. If you own a peanut allergy, enquire your allergist whether you should avoid every types of peanut oil.

While some people report symptoms such as skin rashes or chest tightness when they are near to or smell peanut butter, a placebo-controlled trial of children exposed to open peanut butter containers documented no systemic reactions.

Still, food particles containing peanut proteins can become airborne during the grinding or pulverization of peanuts, and inhaling peanut protein in this type of situation could cause an allergic reaction. In addition, odors may cause conditioned physical responses, such as anxiety, a skin rash or a change in blood pressure.

What Is a Shellfish Allergy?

A shellfish allergy is not exactly the same as a seafood allergy. Seafood includes fish (like tuna or cod) and shellfish (like lobster or clams). Even though they both drop into the category of "seafood," fish and shellfish are biologically diverse.

So fish will not cause an allergic reaction in someone with a shellfish allergy, unless that person also has a fish allergy.

Shellfish drop into two diverse groups:

  1. crustaceans, love shrimp, crab, or lobster
  2. mollusks, love clams, mussels, oysters, scallops, octopus, or squid

Some people with shellfish allergies are allergic to both groups, but some are allergic only to one.

Most allergic reactions to shellfish happen when someone eats shellfish.

But sometimes a person can react to touching shellfish or breathing in vapors from cooking shellfish.

Shellfish allergy can develop at any age. Even people who own eaten shellfish in the past can develop an allergy. Some people outgrow certain food allergies over time, but those with shellfish allergies generally own the allergy for the relax of their lives.

Can peanut allergy be prevented?

In 2017, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) issued new updated guidelines in order to define high, moderate and low-risk infants for developing peanut allergy.

The guidelines also address how to proceed with introduction of peanut based on risk in order to prevent the development of peanut allergy.

The updated guidelines are a breakthrough for the prevention of peanut allergy. Peanut allergy has become much more common in recent years, and there is now a roadmap to prevent numerous new cases.

According to the new guidelines, an baby at high risk of developing peanut allergy is one with severe eczema and/or egg allergy.

The guidelines recommend introduction of peanut-containing foods as early as 4-6 months for high-risk infants who own already started solid foods, after determining that it is safe to do so.

If your kid is sure to be high risk, the guidelines recommend having them tested for peanut allergy. Your allergist may do this with a skin test or blood test. Depending on the results, they may recommend attempting to attempt peanut for the first time in the office. A positive test alone does not necessarily prove your kid is allergic, and studies own shown infants who own a peanut sensitivity aren’t necessarily allergic.

For high-risk infants, if the skin test does not reveal a large wheal (bump) updated guidelines recommend that infants own peanut fed to them the first time in the specialist’s office.

However, if the skin test reaction is large (8 mm or larger) the guidelines recommend not pursuing an oral challenge, as the baby is likely already allergic at that point. Therefore, an allergist may decide not to own the kid attempt peanut at every if they own a extremely large reaction to the skin test. Instead, they might advise that the kid avoid peanuts completely due to the strong chance of a pre-existing peanut allergy. An allergist might also still proceed with a peanut challenge after explaining the risks and benefits to the parents.

Moderate risk children – those with mild to moderate eczema who own already started solid foods – do not need an evaluation. These infants can own peanut-containing foods introduced at home by their parents starting around six months of age.

Parents can always consult with their primary health care provider if they own questions on how to proceed. Low risk children with no eczema or egg allergy can be introduced to peanut-containing foods according to the family’s preference, also around 6 months.

Parents should know that most infants are either moderate- or low-risk for developing peanut allergies, and most can own peanut-containing foods introduced at home.

Whole peanuts should never be given to infants as they are a choking hazard. More information can be found here and also in the ACAAI video, “Introducing peanut-containing foods to prevent peanut allergy.”

Although parents desire to do what’s best for their children, determining what “best” means isn’t always simple. So if your son or daughter is struggling with peanut allergies, take control of the situation and consult an allergist today.

This sheet was reviewed and updated 3/14/2019.

en españolAlergia al marisco

What Are the Signs & Symptoms of a Shellfish Allergy?

When someone is allergic to shellfish, the body’s immune system, which normally fights infections, overreacts to proteins in the shellfish.

Every time the person eats (or, in some cases, handles or breathes in) shellfish, the body thinks these proteins are harmful invaders and releases chemicals love . This can cause symptoms such as:

  1. throat tightness
  2. trouble breathing
  3. coughing
  4. red spots
  5. belly pain
  6. itchy, watery, or swollen eyes
  7. hoarseness
  8. swelling
  9. hives
  10. vomiting
  11. wheezing
  12. diarrhea
  13. a drop in blood pressure, causing lightheadedness or loss of consciousness (passing out)

Allergic reactions to shellfish can differ.

Sometimes the same person can react differently at diverse times. Some reactions can be extremely mild and involve only one system of the body, love hives on the skin. Other reactions can be more severe and involve more than one part of the body.

Shellfish allergy can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis, even if a previous reaction was mild. Anaphylaxis might start with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but can quickly get worse. The person may own trouble breathing or pass out. More than one part of the body might be involved. If it isn’t treated, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.

How Is an Allergic Reaction to Shellfish Treated?

If you own a shellfish allergy (or any helpful of serious food allergy), the doctor will desire you to carry an epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency.

An epinephrine auto-injector is a prescription medicine that comes in a little, easy-to-carry container.

It’s simple to use. Your doctor will show you how. Hold it nearby, not in a locker or in the nurse’s office.

The doctor can also give you an allergy action plan, which helps you prepare for, recognize, and treat an allergic reaction. Share the plan with anyone else who needs to know, such as relatives, school officials, and coaches. Also consider wearing a medical alert bracelet.

Every second counts in an allergic reaction. If you start having serious allergic symptoms, love swelling of the mouth or throat or trouble breathing, use the epinephrine auto-injector correct away.

Also use it correct away if your symptoms involve two diverse parts of the body, love hives with vomiting. Then call 911 and own someone take you to the emergency room. You need to be under medical supervision because even if the worst seems to own passed, a second wave of serious symptoms can happen.

It’s also a excellent thought to carry an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine, as this can assist treat mild allergy symptoms. Use after — not as a replacement for — the epinephrine shot during life-threatening reactions.

What Else Should I Know?

If allergy testing shows that you own a shellfish allergy, you must not eat shellfish.

You also must not eat any foods that might contain shellfish as ingredients. Anyone who is sensitive to the smell of cooking shellfish should avoid restaurants and other areas where shellfish is being cooked.

For information on foods to avoid, check sites such as the Food Allergy Research and Education network (FARE).

Always read food labels to see if a food contains shellfish. Manufacturers of foods sold in the United States must state whether foods contain any of the top eight most common allergens, including crustacean shellfish.

What oils to use for allergies

The label should list "shellfish" in the ingredient list or tell "Contains shellfish" after the list.

Some foods glance OK from the ingredient list, but while being made they can come in contact with fish. This is called cross-contamination. Glance for advisory statements such as "May contain fish," "Processed in a facility that also processes fish," or "Manufactured on equipment also used for fish." Not every companies label for cross-contamination, so if in doubt, call or email the company to be sure.

Manufacturers also do not own to list mollusk shellfish ingredients because mollusk shellfish (clams, mussels, oysters, or scallops) are not considered a major food allergen.

When labels tell a food contains shellfish, they refer to crustacean shellfish. Contact the company to see about cross-contamination risk with mollusks.

Cross-contamination often happens in restaurants. In kitchens, shellfish can get into a food product because the staff use the same surfaces, utensils (like knives, cutting boards, or pans), or oil to prepare both shellfish and other foods.

This is particularly common in seafood restaurants, so some people discover it safer to avoid these restaurants. Shellfish is also used in a lot of Asian cooking, so there’s a risk of cross-contamination in Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, or Japanese restaurants. When eating at restaurants, it may be best to avoid fried foods because numerous places cook chicken, French fries, and shellfish in the same oil.

When eating away from home, make certain you own an epinephrine auto-injector with you and that it hasn’t expired.

Also, tell the people preparing or serving your food about the shellfish allergy. Sometimes, you may desire to bring food with you that you know is safe. Don’t eat at the restaurant if the chef, manager, or owner seems uncomfortable with your request for a safe meal.

Also talk to the staff at school about cross-contamination risks for foods in the cafeteria. It may be best to pack lunches at home so you can control what’s in them.

Other things to hold in mind:

  1. Don’t eatcooked foods you didn’t make yourself or anything with unknown ingredients.
  2. Make certain the epinephrine auto-injector is always on hand and that it is not expired.
  3. Tell everyone who handles your food — from relatives to restaurant staff — that you own a shellfish allergy.
  4. Carry a personalized "chef card," which can be given to the kitchen staff.

    The card details your allergies for food preparers. Food allergy websites provide printable chef card forms in numerous diverse languages.

  5. Stay away from steam tables or stovetops when shellfish is cooked (especially places where food is cooked on a communal grill, love hibachi restaurants).
  6. Shellfish ingredients also might be used in some non-food products, love nutritional supplements, lip gloss, pet foods, and plant fertilizer. Talk to your doctor if you own questions about what is safe.


FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions about essential oils and skin safety:

  1. What should I do if I experience and adverse skin reaction?

Please see this page: https://tisserandinstitute.org/safety/what-to-do-when-experiencing-an-adverse-reaction/

  • How can I minimize the risk of irritation or allergic reaction?
    1. Be careful when using essential oils in the bath
    2. Do not use undiluted essential oils on the skin.
    3. Follow age-related safety guidelines
    4. Follow safety guidelines for high-risk essential oils (see Tables below).
    5. Avoid using the same oil or mix at more than 5% dilution for endless periods of time (months/years).

    Here are dilution maximums for topical application of the most common essential oils and absolutes that carry the highest risk – their dermal maximum is 1.5% or less.

    Most of these are widely-recognized industry standards for pure essential oils, and they are guidelines for avoiding adverse skin reactions. Some people will be capable to use more concentrated oils, but this is not advisable as it does increase risk.

    What oils to use for allergies

    For more details consult Essential Oil Safety, 2e.

    Irritant essential oils and their topical maximums:

    Allergenic essential oils and their topical maximums:

    The expression “sensitization” is often misunderstood. It’s sometimes used as if it was a distinct category of adverse reaction – it isn’t – and it’s sometimes used as a synonym for an allergic skin reaction. This second use of the expression does make sense, but really “sensitization” describes the priming of the immune system that subsequently leads to an allergic reaction. So it’s part of the process.

    Technically speaking, there is no such thing.

    There are essential oils likely to cause irritation, and others that are likely to cause allergic reactions. There’s no reason why you can’t group them every together and call them “hot oils”, so endless as you understand that each one has it’s own maximum dilution safety guideline. For the record, neither Black Pepper essential oil nor Ginger essential oil is a “hot oil”, so we ponder it’s a misleading concept.

    1. How endless will my allergy last?

    The acute phase of an allergic reaction generally lasts for several hours, and then the skin calms below.

    In a minority of cases, the reaction persists for weeks, and the use of steroids may be helpful. It’s significant to note that if you re-apply the same essential oil or mix you may own another allergic reaction. This is because, once your immune system has been primed through T cells to recognize a constituent as an allergen, this generally persists for the relax of your life. In some people, allergies do resolve after 10 or 20 years, but not in everyone.

    1. If my skin becomes inflamed after applying an essential oil, is this a sign that I am detoxing?

    No, it never is a sign that you are detoxing.

    Read more here.

    1. I own heard that you can’t own a true allergic reaction to an essential oil. Is this true?

    You may hear that the constituents of essential oils are too little to be recognized by the immune system, or that we only mount allergic reactions to proteins, and essential oils don’t contain proteins. The final part is true – essential oils don’t contain proteins. However, essential oil constituents often chemically bind to proteins in the skin (this forms something called a “hapten-peptide complex”) and this combination molecule can be recognized by the immune system, leading to an allergic reaction (Chipinda et al 2011).

    You may also hear that reactions to essential oils are “not true allergic reactions”.

    Most essential oil allergies are not IgE-mediated reactions love food allergies; this is the only type of allergic reaction that involves antibodies, and is known as Type 1 hypersensitivity. However, there are four classes of allergic reaction, and Type IV, delayed hypersensitivity, occurs through T-cell priming of the immune system.

    So yes, it is possible to own an allergic reaction to an essential oil.

    1. Is an allergic reaction a sign that by body is not healthy?

    The transdermal absorption of essential oil constituents happens more readily in people with disturbed skin “barrier function” (De Benedetto et al 2012, Egawa & Kabashima 2017).

    Some of these constituents may be potential allergens. The same barrier principle, and similar mechanisms, apply to food allergies and “leaky gut” (Mu et al 2017) and to inhaled allergies love allergic rhinitis and asthma and the lungs (Schleimer & Berdnikovs 2017). So disturbed barrier function in various tissues tends to make us more allergy-prone.

    The skin’s barrier function is its ability to hold unwanted substances from being absorbed into the body, and if it is not functioning optimally, this increases the risk of both skin contact irritation and allergy. Various factors can affect barrier function such as stress, dry weather, and the skin’s microbiome (Prescott et al 2017).

    This does not take away from the reality of an allergic reaction, nor does it mean that it’s “your fault”. Here are some guidelines for improving and maintaining your skin’s barrier function.

    1. Is patch testing a excellent idea?

    It depends, but in general we don’t recommend it. First, just to be clear, this is not a skin prick or scratch test (these test for IgE reactions, but most reactions to essential oils are not IgE-related). Second, patch testing can be useful, but there are drawbacks. It is normally carried out by a dermatologist, using specially prepared patches – which you can’t purchase – and doing the test properly is laborious.

    Also, patch testing is not 100% dependable – sometimes there are untrue positives or untrue negatives. Finally, intensive patch testing itself occasionally produces allergic reactions that would not otherwise own occurred.

    If you are planning to use essential oils on a high-risk individual, whether yourself or someone else, then we would recommend dose escalation (see below) instead of patch testing. A high-risk individual would be someone, for example, who has had one or more topical allergic reactions in the past, or someone who has multiple chemical sensitivity.

    Dose escalation: Start with a low dilution – perhaps 1% – and then gradually increasing the concentration in 0.5% steps if there seems to be little effect initially.

    References

    Bhatia, R., Alikhan, A., & Maibach, H.

    I. (2009). Contact urticaria: present scenario. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 54(3), 264–268.

    Chipinda, I., Hettick, J. M., & Siegel, P. D. (2011). Haptenation: chemical reactivity and protein binding. Journal of Allergy, 2011, 1–11.

    Davari, P., & Maibach, H.I. (2010). Contact urticaria to cosmetic and industrial dyes. Clinical & Experimental Dermatology, 36, 1-5.

    De Benedetto, A., Kubo, A., & Beck, L.

    A. (2012). Skin barrier disruption: a requirement for allergen sensitization? Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 132(3), 949–963.

    Diba, V. C., & Statham, B. N. (2003). Contact urticaria from cinnamal leading to anaphylaxis. Contact Dermatitis, 48(2), 119.

    Egawa, G., & Kabashima, K. (2017).

    What oils to use for allergies

    Barrier dysfunction in the skin allergy. Allergology International, 67(1), 3–11.

    Mu, Q., Kirby, J., Reilly, C. M., & Luo, X. M. (2017). Leaky gut as a harm signal for autoimmune diseases. Frontiers in Immunology, 8(May), 1–10.

    Prescott, S. L., Larcombe, D. L., Logan, A. C. et al (2017). The skin microbiome: Impact of modern environments on skin ecology, barrier integrity, and systemic immune programming.

    What oils to use for allergies

    World Allergy Organization Journal, 10(1), 1–16.

    Schleimer, R. P., & Berdnikovs, S. (2017). Etiology of epithelial barrier dysfunction in patients with type 2 inflammatory diseases. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 139(6), 1752–1761.

    Warshaw, E.

    What oils to use for allergies

    M., Maibach, H. I., Taylor, J. S et al (2015). North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis: 26(1), 49–59.


    Contact Dermatitis

    The most commonly reported allergic reaction to essential oils is contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis from essential oils causes an itchy, bumpy rash on the skin at the site of contact with the oil. The rash may appear similar to poison oak, may own blisters and peel when the rash is resolving. It is also possible to own systemic contact dermatitis from taking the essential oils internally (by mouth).

    In this circumstance, a person may experience a full body rash, whole body itching (without a rash), and/or abdominal pains and diarrhea.

    Contact dermatitis to essential oils may happen in people who own experienced past rashes to fragrances or own allergy symptoms related to weed pollens. People with this type of medical history should be extremely cautious when using any essential oil and should consider performing a patch test by placing a little quantity of the oil on the skin at the fold of the elbow (antecubital fossa) twice a day for 3 to 5 days.

    If there is no reaction at the site of the oil application after the 5th day or so, then it is not likely that a person is allergic to the oil being used. If, however, the skin at the site of oil application becomes red and itchy, or the skin blisters and peels, then that specific oil should not be used by the person.


    Irritant and allergic reactions to essential oils

    Fortunately, most people that use essential oils never experience any type of adverse reaction. However, some do, and in most cases their experience is both unpleasant and avoidable.

    In a few instances, the reaction has serious consequences. As always, our purpose is to show you how to minimize risk so that you can use essential oils safely, as well as effectively.

    Skin reactions are the most common types of adverse reaction to essential oils, and they include:

    • Adding undiluted or poorly diluted essential oils to a bath
    • Allergic contact dermatitis (delayed hypersensitivity)
      1. Using undiluted or insufficiently diluted essential oils on the skin.
      2. Women are at greater risk of allergic reaction to essential oils than are men. The reasons are probably hormonal.
      3. Itching
      4. Hives (tiny blisters)
      5. Contact urticaria (immediate hypersensitivity)
      6. Some essential oils, such as Cinnamon bark, Ylang-Ylang and Lemongrass, are more prone to causing allergic reactions than others.

        In most cases a single constituent (such as cinnamaldehyde in Cinnamon bark and citral in Lemongrass) is responsible.

      7. Frequency (how often an oil is applied per day) and duration (the number of days, weeks, months it is applied) are also factors, basically increasing risk.
      8. Burning and/or pain
      9. Irritation (Irritant contact dermatitis)
      10. Dilution and risk are directly related. The more dilute an essential oil is, the lower the risk, and the more concentrated an essential oil is, the greater the risk.
      11. Redness

        Adverse reaction to an extremely low dilution of
        cinnamon bark and peppermint oils in a shampoo

      12. People who own, or who own had atopic dermatitis are at greater risk.

    Both contact urticaria and allergic contact dermatitis are allergic reactions, which are also known as hypersensitivities.

    (Photosensitization is not covered on this page.) If you are experiencing an adverse skin reaction, go here for guidelines on what to do.

    Irritation

    The medical term for the skin reaction to an irritant is “irritant contact dermatitis”. This is the least problematic type of skin reaction, and the inflammation dies below fairly quickly after the oil is removed from the skin, though it is still unpleasant and undesirable. Common causes of irritation from essential oils include:

    1. Using undiluted or insufficiently diluted essential oils on the skin.
    2. Adding undiluted or poorly diluted essential oils to a bath

    Click here for a case of irritation caused by Oregano oil.

    Several case reports can be found here.

    What does an irritant or allergic reaction glance like/feel like?

    In most people, an irritant or allergic reaction starts to manifest within 5 or 10 minutes of applying an essential oil, and can be almost instant.

    Symptoms include some or every of the following:

    1. Itching
    2. Redness

      Adverse reaction to an extremely low dilution of
      cinnamon bark and peppermint oils in a shampoo

    3. Burning and/or pain
    4. Hives (tiny blisters)

    The initial symptoms are beautiful much the same for both irritation and allergy, but while irritation reactions tend to resolve within a few hours, allergic reactions may persist for days or even weeks.

    Sometimes allergic reactions spread to parts of the body the oil was not directly applied to. Another difference is that greater dilution of an essential oil will generally prevent irritation from happening again, but this may not prevent subsequent allergic reactions.

    Allergic contact dermatitis

    This is the most common type of adverse skin reaction to essential oils. It is also called delayed hypersensitivity because it does not happen the first time the skin is exposed to the substance. In a recent report, 3.9% of 4,238 dermatitis patients who were patch tested with cinnamaldehyde had a positive (i.e. allergic) reaction (Warshaw et al 2015).

    The mechanism that takes put involves the immune system, and is illustrated here:

    There are complicated reasons why this happens to some people and not others:

    1. Dilution and risk are directly related. The more dilute an essential oil is, the lower the risk, and the more concentrated an essential oil is, the greater the risk.
    2. Some essential oils, such as Cinnamon bark, Ylang-Ylang and Lemongrass, are more prone to causing allergic reactions than others. In most cases a single constituent (such as cinnamaldehyde in Cinnamon bark and citral in Lemongrass) is responsible.
    3. Women are at greater risk of allergic reaction to essential oils than are men.

      The reasons are probably hormonal.

    4. Frequency (how often an oil is applied per day) and duration (the number of days, weeks, months it is applied) are also factors, basically increasing risk.
    5. People who own, or who own had atopic dermatitis are at greater risk.

    It’s exciting that there is often a correlation between people with seasonal allergies and those prone to skin allergies to essential oils. The reason for this link may be genetic, and/or may be due to immune-reacting cells migrating from one part of the body to another

    An allergic reaction often will not happen the first time an essential oil is used.

    Allergic reaction to a stir of undiluted Helichrysum, Lavender and Tea Tree oils

    Multiple hypersensitivities

    In some cases, being allergic to an essential oil leads to multiple hypersensitivities – the person develops allergies to numerous essential oils, not necessarily because of common chemistry.

    In these types of cases, finish avoidance of every essential oils is recommended for several weeks. After this period, essential oils should only be reintroduced one at a time.

    Contact urticaria and anaphylaxis

    Contact urticaria is the same type of allergic reaction that some people get from a bee sting, and it causes a characteristic “wheal and flare” response (see illustration). Contact urticaria can either be immunological (IgE-mediated) (immunological contact urticaria, or ICU), or non-immunological (NICU). ICU can involve the respiratory system or the gastro-intestinal tract, and it can cause anaphylactic shock, which in turn may be fatal (Bhatia et al 2009, Davari & Maibach 2010).

    Example of contact urticaria

    The following are every possible signs of anaphylaxis:

    – Difficulty breathing

    – Swollen lips, tongue, throat

    – Blood pressure drops alarmingly

    – Hives, redness, itching, which may be widespread

    One case of probable anaphylaxis to cinnamaldehyde has been reported (Diba & Statham 2003), and there are two known cases, and two probable cases of anaphylaxis to essential oils in our Adverse Reactions Database.

    None of these were fatal, and these types of reaction are extremely rare with essential oils. You can view the details here, here, here and here.

    Tipping the scales

    In a few cases, sudden and widespread allergic reactions develop following a endless period of extremely intensive use of essential oils, both topically and orally. This can be simply described as the body saying enough is enough. Three examples of such reaction can be found here, here and here.

    Both contact urticaria and allergic contact dermatitis are allergic reactions, which are also known as hypersensitivities.

    (Photosensitization is not covered on this page.) If you are experiencing an adverse skin reaction, go here for guidelines on what to do.

    Irritation

    The medical term for the skin reaction to an irritant is “irritant contact dermatitis”. This is the least problematic type of skin reaction, and the inflammation dies below fairly quickly after the oil is removed from the skin, though it is still unpleasant and undesirable. Common causes of irritation from essential oils include:

    1. Using undiluted or insufficiently diluted essential oils on the skin.
    2. Adding undiluted or poorly diluted essential oils to a bath

    Click here for a case of irritation caused by Oregano oil.

    Several case reports can be found here.

    What does an irritant or allergic reaction glance like/feel like?

    In most people, an irritant or allergic reaction starts to manifest within 5 or 10 minutes of applying an essential oil, and can be almost instant.

    Symptoms include some or every of the following:

    1. Itching
    2. Redness

      Adverse reaction to an extremely low dilution of
      cinnamon bark and peppermint oils in a shampoo

    3. Burning and/or pain
    4. Hives (tiny blisters)

    The initial symptoms are beautiful much the same for both irritation and allergy, but while irritation reactions tend to resolve within a few hours, allergic reactions may persist for days or even weeks. Sometimes allergic reactions spread to parts of the body the oil was not directly applied to. Another difference is that greater dilution of an essential oil will generally prevent irritation from happening again, but this may not prevent subsequent allergic reactions.

    Allergic contact dermatitis

    This is the most common type of adverse skin reaction to essential oils.

    It is also called delayed hypersensitivity because it does not happen the first time the skin is exposed to the substance. In a recent report, 3.9% of 4,238 dermatitis patients who were patch tested with cinnamaldehyde had a positive (i.e. allergic) reaction (Warshaw et al 2015). The mechanism that takes put involves the immune system, and is illustrated here:

    There are complicated reasons why this happens to some people and not others:

    1. Dilution and risk are directly related. The more dilute an essential oil is, the lower the risk, and the more concentrated an essential oil is, the greater the risk.
    2. Some essential oils, such as Cinnamon bark, Ylang-Ylang and Lemongrass, are more prone to causing allergic reactions than others.

      In most cases a single constituent (such as cinnamaldehyde in Cinnamon bark and citral in Lemongrass) is responsible.

    3. Women are at greater risk of allergic reaction to essential oils than are men. The reasons are probably hormonal.
    4. Frequency (how often an oil is applied per day) and duration (the number of days, weeks, months it is applied) are also factors, basically increasing risk.
    5. People who own, or who own had atopic dermatitis are at greater risk.

    It’s exciting that there is often a correlation between people with seasonal allergies and those prone to skin allergies to essential oils.

    The reason for this link may be genetic, and/or may be due to immune-reacting cells migrating from one part of the body to another

    An allergic reaction often will not happen the first time an essential oil is used.

    Allergic reaction to a stir of undiluted Helichrysum, Lavender and Tea Tree oils

    Multiple hypersensitivities

    In some cases, being allergic to an essential oil leads to multiple hypersensitivities – the person develops allergies to numerous essential oils, not necessarily because of common chemistry. In these types of cases, finish avoidance of every essential oils is recommended for several weeks.

    After this period, essential oils should only be reintroduced one at a time.

    Contact urticaria and anaphylaxis

    Contact urticaria is the same type of allergic reaction that some people get from a bee sting, and it causes a characteristic “wheal and flare” response (see illustration). Contact urticaria can either be immunological (IgE-mediated) (immunological contact urticaria, or ICU), or non-immunological (NICU). ICU can involve the respiratory system or the gastro-intestinal tract, and it can cause anaphylactic shock, which in turn may be fatal (Bhatia et al 2009, Davari & Maibach 2010).

    Example of contact urticaria

    The following are every possible signs of anaphylaxis:

    – Difficulty breathing

    – Swollen lips, tongue, throat

    – Blood pressure drops alarmingly

    – Hives, redness, itching, which may be widespread

    One case of probable anaphylaxis to cinnamaldehyde has been reported (Diba & Statham 2003), and there are two known cases, and two probable cases of anaphylaxis to essential oils in our Adverse Reactions Database.

    None of these were fatal, and these types of reaction are extremely rare with essential oils. You can view the details here, here, here and here.

    Tipping the scales

    In a few cases, sudden and widespread allergic reactions develop following a endless period of extremely intensive use of essential oils, both topically and orally. This can be simply described as the body saying enough is enough.

    What oils to use for allergies

    Three examples of such reaction can be found here, here and here.


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