Here is a link to an excellent article on "Sensitization". http://aromatherapyunited.org/sensitization-what-is-it-and-how-to-reduce-the-risk/
The information below is reprinted courtesy of Butch Owen (Essential Oil Expert):
Before you read this .. a logical question. Why would responsible folks who sell Essential Oils and could gain financially from your increased use of Essential Oils .. tell you to NOT use Essential Oils without proper, safe dilution? It doesn't take a rocket scientist to come up with the answer. We see
this issue as being serious enough to warn folks.
Another question. Why do outfits like Young Living push the neat use of massive quantities of EO?
There has been discussion by folks wondering about sensitization. So please pay close attention cause this can be rough stuff! It can cause us to have to take a trip to the emergency room .. and the problem can last for life.
Before I get into sensitization let me list the potential problems we can face when applying essential oils to the skin.
1. Irritation .. generally a mild reaction when compared to the others .. and in almost all cases the irritation will go away when the irritant is removed. Its impossible to totally avoid this risk because different folks will react in different manners .. but we can lessen the risk by properly diluting EO .. and by avoiding those that are known to be irritants.
2. Toxicity .. generally not a big problem with essential oils .. though it can be with some EO .. like frequent use of Wintergreen or Sweet Birch.
3. Photo sensitization .. a big problem .. and a painful one. We can avoid this by avoiding use of oils that we know will cause this problem. They are well known.
4. Sensitization .. read on.
IF we talk about initial sensitizing we're almost always talking about dermal contact (not ingestion or inhalation) with chemicals in essential oils, cosmetics, perfumes or household cleaning material. Some natural (and synthetic) products are known to be potent sensitizers .. some are occasional sensitizers and some are believed to be non sensitizing .. Lavender and Tea Tree are two that are (unfortunately) rumored to be non sensitizing .. but even normally non sensitizing EO can cause some folks to become sensitized .. its a matter of luck .. bad luck! I could name a number of people who have become sensitized to Lavender or Tea Tree.
Sensitization is not just spice oils, though they're in the top category as potential sensitizers .. its also oils made from leaves, bark, seeds, roots, blossoms, gum, etc. And sensitization is impossible to avoid entirely .. like traffic accidents .. but we can greatly reduce the potential by avoiding oils we know are known sensitizers and not using the other supposedly safe ones undiluted. Its a case of dealing with the immune system and though its hard to fool Mama Nature, its sometimes possible to deceive the immune system .. for a while.
What happens in sensitization is the immune system registers a foreign invader .. it alerts all its soldiers that the body's defense system has been breached. But it RARELY reacts when this happens .. it registers the profile of the invader and prepares for defensive action the next time that invader strikes .. which might be days or weeks or months or even years later. But once that chemical profile has been registered .. attack it will .. at some point .. and such attacks usually (with some exceptions) will continue whenever the immune system's security officer detects another invasion by that foreign enemy.
Because its not the oil itself that's causing the reaction .. but rather one or maybe a combination of the chemical components of that oil, this creates problems that continue even if we don't use that oil again.
The problems can arise anytime we come into contact with ANY product or food containing that chemical or combination of chemicals that has been duly registered as an enemy agent by our immune system. It doesn't have to be via dermal application next time .. it can occur when we inhale vapors or eat foods that contain the enemy agents. This is likely to occur because the aromatherapy industry is a small user of essential oils; the cosmetics, perfumery and FOOD industries use the lion's share.
So how can we initially fool the immune system? First .. we have to be lucky .. but we can also be smart. We don't attack with brigades of 3,000 troops .. we slip squads of ten or so into the area of operations because it is less likely to trigger the panic and alarm that the immune system goes into when it registers foreign enemy invaders.
How do we do this? We dilute the oil. And avoid using any essential oil .. even well diluted .. over a wide area of skin. You might ask .. what about massage? Well .. there are some risks in life and that is one of them .. but its more potentially dangerous to the one giving the massage than to the recipient because of the other danger .. frequency of use. That requires little discussion but I'll say that the more often we drive to the corner market, the more likely we are to have a traffic accident.
Proper dilution of essential oils is important and again .. contrary to the rumors in this industry about neat use of Lavender and Tea Tree being safe .. they too must be diluted. There are MANY people around who have become sensitized to Lavender and Tea Tree .. and sensitization is (with rare exceptions) for life .. it can take us to the emergency room.
Y'all keep smiling. :-)
Butch .... http://www.AV-AT.com
Recently, I was at an event where someone came in to "educate" about essential oils. She was marketing a certain company..DoTerra. She passed around undiluted oils and encouraged people to apply different oils neat (undiluted) on the skin, including above the lip and near the eyes. Some people even had redness and a stinging reaction! This is a very dangerous practice. Oils are VERY powerful and should be diluted into a carrier before using in 98% of the time.
The presenter was not very knowledgeable, only 2 years experience and no indication of any training other than word of mouth from company higher ups.
She had people put undiluted oils on their hands and face with no warning or indication that this could cause a problem. There was No mention of sensitization or safety issues. (especially citrus)
She offered "free" aroma touch "therapy" in which many oils are used undiluted. The only charge was for the oils.
She distributed handouts which prescribed oils for medical conditions.....Prescribing without a license.
She dropped undiluted oils in people's mouths! and encouraged them to "put underneath the tongue" Or recommended putting undiluted in "capsules" for internal use. She encouraged using undiluted oils on babies' feet and backs. There was no attempt at educating about the oils, but just pushing products.
The company's website has no appropriate safety information. Their recommendations push use of neat oils, saying to use vegetable or carrier oil only AFTER an irritation or reaction has been noted.
Claims that they are the "only" company to have pure, therapeutic oils. When, in fact they get their oils from the same wholesalers that many other companies do. They have pretty much ripped off the recipes for their oil blends from Young Living. Yes, they have changed an ingredient here and there. They do not have anything that is unique.
Somewhere along the line, the founders have found someone with incredible marketing skills.
DoTerra is getting a very bad reputation among the international aromatherapy community for their dangerous practices and lack of concern for safety issues, not to mention their high prices and extremely aggressive marketing techniques. Their prices for commonly used oils such as Eucalyptus and the Citrus oils are in most cases 4-6 times the cost of getting the same quality oils from other sources. For example, Helichrysum (one of my favorites) is $107 for 1/6 oz. I can get 1/2 oz. for only $120 from Nature's Gift, a trusted supplier. Big difference. Again my problem is not with the quality of the oils, but with the marketing techniques, high prices and lack of safety information. See the other page on "DoTerra and Therapeutic Grade"
I have a daughter who is now sensitized to oils on her skin. I feel bad that I didn’t know better 15 years ago. So, now I feel it my duty to warn others. So, PLEASE, PLEASE educate yourself and DO NOT apply oils without dilution to at least 10% or under for massage and at least 50% for perfume. Blends for emotional work can easily be diluted down to 5-15% and still be amazingly potent. Most of my blends, I provide already diluted to 50% with Fractionated Coconut oil or Jojoba. This enables them to be more affordable and usable.
There are many oils that cause Photosentization EVEN WHEN DILUTED.