I often hear questions from friends and families such as my daughter got a rash on her chest after using diluted tea tree oil in a shampoo. Was it from the essential oil? It certainly could have been. Let's look at the potential of skin reactions related to essential oils. Fortunately, skin reactions are rare, however, there are factors that increase the risk. Skin reactions from essential oils are typically categorized as irritation or allergic reactions. Most often caused by undiluted or insufficiently diluted essential oils applied to the skin or in the bath. You'll be learning about appropriate dilution in an upcoming module. You'll also learn about a third type of skin reaction known as phototoxicity. Both irritation and allergy symptoms will include some or all of these, redness, itching, burning, or pain, and hives. Irritation reactions usually resolve within a few hours, while allergic reactions tend to last for days or weeks. Allergic reactions may also spread to other parts of the body where no essential oil was applied. This is your clue that reaction is indeed an allergy. Irritation, also known as irritant contact dermatitis may occur on the first exposure to a specific essential oil, but not always. If you experience an irritation not an allergic response, you can try to use the same essential oil again if it is highly diluted. If the irritation is repeated this is a cue you should not use that specific essential oil at all. Allergic responses or hypersensitivities can be immediate, which is known as contact urticaria, or a delayed reaction known as allergic contact dermatitis. An immediate reaction contact urticaria is a similar reaction you may get from a bee sting. It may be local, just on the skin, but can also involve the gastrointestinal or respiratory systems. If the respiratory system is involved it can cause anaphylaxis which can be fatal. Delayed hypersensitivity or allergic contact dermatitis is the most common type of adverse skin reaction to essential oils. As the name applies, it often does not occur the first time the skin is exposed to the specific oil. When an allergic reaction occurs, the immune system has been prime to recognize whichever chemical component in that specific oil is the cause. Some people will notice they can use a substance they've been allergic to after a period of 10 to 20 years, but most people will have this allergy for life. Remember, if you have red or itchy skin from an essential oil, you are not detoxing. So don't fall for that comment by anyone. For any skin reactions to essential oils, remove any contaminated clothes and gently wash the skin with unperfumed soap and water for at least 10 minutes. Dry and keep skin open to air to allow evaporation of any remaining essential oil. Using an oatmeal paste or bath may help to relieve the symptoms, but if the symptoms are severe, seek medical help. You may have heard or read about patch testing to determine if you will have a reaction to a specific essential oil. This is similar to the type of test a dermatologist does, although it may not give accurate results using a simple adhesive bandage as the patch. An aromatherapy patch is done as follows, apply the specific essential oil to an inner arm. Cover with an adhesive bandage and record date and time on the bandage. If no reaction is noted in 24 hours, then you may be free from any reaction to that oil. Some aroma therapy resources recommend applying double the concentration of the desired essential oil. And keeping the bandage in place for 48 hours before checking for a reaction. Essential oil safety expert, Robert Tisserand has stated this test may be helpful in some cases, but it may not since an adhesive bandage is not the same as inclusive patch used by dermatologists. He also maintains that these tests are not 100% reliable and may put the person at risk for an allergic reaction. When using essential oils in a clinical setting, you might want to consider not using topical applied essential oils on patients with known skin sensitivities. Let's check your understanding of skin related essential oil safety. Redness, itching, and pain can be caused by either skin irritation or an allergic response to essential oils. If, the reaction is at the site where essential oil was applied, it could be either. If you notice a skin reaction at a different location than where the essential oil that's applied on the body, then it is most likely an allergic response. Allergies can be mild or severe, including life threatening anaphyalaxis. There is so much information on this topic, so lets continue to explore the risk factors for skin reactions.