Essential oils may be a dangerous alternative

Using essential oils could pose a health risk

Essential oils have recently surged in the modern alternative medicine world, but experts say they may not always be safe.

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The oils are sold as natural alternatives to help with pain, anxiety, memory, mood, and even digestive problems.

Experts say just because the oils are botanical and natural doesn't mean they're safe for everyone to use, however. For example, poison ivy is a plant, and it would be unwise to willingly rub it on one's skin.

Master aromatherapist Wendy Dearborne found out the hard way when she applied a cinnamon oil on her arm.

"My hand started to get read, and it was hot, and I was like, 'Oh no, I'm having a serious reaction to this,'" she said

It's a reaction Dr. Patricia Farris said is all too common in some patients that use essential oils.

"People will begin with itching and irritation and sometimes develop full-blown rashes," the dermatologist said. "Blisters, crusting, oozing."

Farris suggests suggests consulting a dermatologist before using an essential oil.

"We tell patients to do something called a Use Test, where they apply a little bit of oil to their finger tip and apply it behind the ear. They do this for several nights in a row," she said.

Dearborne wound up having to use a steroid cream to treat her allergic reaction and hopes others will take caution before trying something new.

Farris said people should never ingest oils, as they may be toxic. It's best to avoid applying them close to the eyes. Doctors also warn some of the citrus oils can make people's skin more sensitive to the sun, and that can lead to blistering, discoloration, or getting a sunburn easier.

Follow Cleveland 19 News:  

Download the Cleveland 19 News app

Copyright 2016 WOIO. All rights reserved.