Essential Oil Injuries: The Essential Oil Safety Pop Quiz Results (Part 2)

Answers to Injury Questions: The Essential Oil Safety Pop Quiz - Marvy Moms

Injuries with essential oils are real and, unfortunately, happen far too frequently. Some injuries are immediately evident (such as burning sensation), and others take time to realize their effect (such as damage to esophagus or stomach). Even though this is true, the fact is that the majority of essential oil injuries are completely preventable. Most injuries occur due to lack of information, misinformation, or lapse in judgment. Many occur because a trusted person has told someone that a particular method of use is safe which ends up causing harm.

Of the 552 respondents, 80 (14.49%) said they were personally harmed and 25 (4.53%) said their child was harmed by essential oils. When I first put up the quiz I did not make the question to describe what happened a mandatory field. This partly explains why not quite half of the people that reported that they or their child had been injured described the details of said injuries.

A couple of these reports are of near-injuries. I’ve included them anyway because they show that quick thinking and a little luck can help to prevent a more serious occurrence. Always be thinking and asking questions to learn more!

As careful as I am with essential oils, I personally have experienced two injuries that I can recall.

  1. I was at the public market and excited to smell some oils that I didn’t yet have in my personal inventory. I opened a bottle of black pepper essential oil and inhaled deeply. My nose and throat immediately felt like they were burning. For the next day or two my entire sense of taste was altered and I did not enjoy my food as usual. This is one that I will not repeat and am even hesitant to add black pepper essential oil to blends.
  2. I made the most delicious smelling lip balm with coffee essential oil, peppermint essential oil, jojoba wax, and cocoa butter. I could feel it tingling when I applied it to my lips and liked the way that it felt. I applied maybe once or twice that evening. By the next days my lips were severely chapped and it took a few months before they didn’t feel raw anymore. I still keep a small sample of it to sniff, however, I had to toss eight tubes of lip balm. I should note that this was at a low dilution and a recipe that I got from a fellow aromatherapist that had used this same recipe with no ill effect.

As I mentioned in Part 1 of The Essential Oil Safety Pop Quiz results, I am not a statistician. Nothing scientific here. Just a reporting by regular (anonymous) people about their experience with essential oils.

Thank you to everyone that has shared their story with us here:


Have you ever been injured by essential oils? (ie: allergic reaction, sensitization, burn, phototoxic reaction, etc…)

# of Responses% of Responses
Not Sure203.62%
Missing Data20.36%

Please describe the circumstances and what happened when you were injured:

Description of Issue:
1.Allergic to all in the mint family. Smelling them, eating, or being in the garden with those plants causes issues. We can not even drive past a field without issue.
2.Attended a "class" where the host served hummus made with essential oils. It severely irritated my throat for approximately three days.

I was also encouraged to put ten drops of EO in a cup of water. One sip and I spat it out as it burned my mouth.
3.Burn from oregano even though diluted. Patch wasn't able to breathe properly because it was covered.
4.Burn on lip by clove oil.
5.Burn using oregano neat - I didn't understand that there were hot oils or the dilution concept.
6.Burned ear canal by putting a drop of thieves in.
7.Burning with wintergreen.
8.Burnt my eyelid and put lavender on it . . . and of course it was too close to my eye . . . so it was fairly sensitive for about 20 min.
9.Clove bud: I used a little more for a toothache, it was very uncomfortable, burning sensation, but it passed in 10 minutes.
10.Esophagus burned drinking water with peppermint essential oil.
11.Gastric ulcer from ingesting lemon and thieves in water daily.
12.Had a bad reaction on my skin to lemongrass. Red welts.
13.I became sensitized to an essential oil even when using an essential oil at the correct dilution (under 2%) and only a few times a month.
14.I found that I am allergic to Lemongrass. It causes my throat to itch and swell if I diffuse it.
15.I had oil splash up at me while making up a blend. It landed near neck and chest and had a chemical-like burn .
16.I put peppermint oil in my bath water and ended up with little burns on my skin.
17.I swallowed 1 drop of Lemon EO during a very bad cold (as suggested by a Wellness Advocate) and I could feel it burning the back of my throat and esophagus for over 2 hours after ingesting. Will never do that again!
18.I used a recipe found on Pinterest for home made sunblock using carrot seed EO.... Found out it does not work at all. Got sunburned.
19.Ingesting peppermint beads caused major issues in my digestive system.
Applying lavender neat gives me blisters.
20.Made a lip scrub with cinnamon bark ... Burnt my lip like craaaaazy.
21.Misuse of hot oil with no dilution.
22.Mixed 4 drops each of two eo blends in my bath water with Epsom salt, soaked 10 minutes. The next day I had a rash on my back. It has been there since November 2014, still itches but not as bad as it did up until two months ago.
23.Neat use of tea tree oil led to dry scaling skin and long term sensitization.
24.Oregano applied neat to a skin tag caused a large burn of the surrounding skin.
25.Oregano causes rash.
26.Peppermint caused heart palpitations.
27.Peppermint spill while making soap, on a spot not covered by gloves.
28.Phototoxic reaction to bergamot in lotion applied after sun-tanning. It seemed to increase a burn.
29.Phototoxic reaction. Used lemon oil (diluted at 1 drop to 10ml of carrier) applied it to back of neck about 4-5 hours before going outside. Forgot about the oil until I felt my neck starting to tingle. Went inside before any real/major injury occurred.
31.Sensitization to lemongrass which I had been using in too high a concentration with an essential oil infused madness age oil.
32.Slight better, started diluting more.
33.Swallowed 2 drops of undiluted Lemon EO suggested by a Wellness Advocate. It burned the back of my throat and esophagus.
34.Systemic rash started on lower back (where oils were put) and then spread up back, down thighs, across shoulders and arms and started up neck - that's when I went to Doctor for help.
35.Tea tree oil applied neat to compromised skin.
36.Told neat use of Eucalyptus was safe.
37.Too much use of Oregano Oil undiluted on feet caused a breakout around my eyes.
38.Using thyme in an anti-acne toner. Skin became red and felt burned.


Has your child(ren) ever been injured by essential oils? (ie: allergic reaction, sensitization, burn, phototoxic reaction, etc…)

# of Responses% of Responses
Not Sure122.17%
Missing Data40.72%

Please describe who was injured, the circumstances and what happened:

Description of Issue:
1.2 year old grabbed the closed bottle of thyme off the counter and got a drip on his hands then touched his penis. Washed immediately with soap and water and rinsed under tap for 15 minutes. Applied herbal salve. No damage.
2.Accidentally made contact with cinnamon leaf EO. Hand turned bright red and was treated as a burn.
I was also encouraged to put ten drops of EO in a cup of water. One sip and I spat it out as it burned my mouth.
3.Daughter is also allergic to the mint family.
4.Has gotten red bumps at application site after some oils are applied (always diluted at 1% or less).
Tingling sensation from using EOs in a bath before I learned how to properly run a bath with EO therapy.
5.He sprayed vinegar that contained a small amount of a cinnamon containing blend on himself (and all over the bathroom instead of just peeing in the toilet). He had red skin for a couple hours. It was the same type of reaction caused by ranch dressing and ketchup.
6.Lemon in water caused stomach problems.
7.My baby got a rash after I applied at the advice of a sales person a thieves type blend. Although I did dilute it and applied on his get he got a rash on his face head and neck. I learned later that oils should not be used on children under two. So very angry that someone who portrayed herself as somewhat of an expert gave me such advice.
8.My toddler found a bottle of a slightly diluted Thieves-type blend. He put some on his stomach. It immediately started burning him. I washed it with soap and rubbed coconut oil on it, which seemed to alleviate the pain.
9.Use of peppermint in 4 year old. Caused immediate vomiting and blue lips.

Did I included this injury section in the Essential Oil Safety Pop Quiz to scare you? Yes and No. An old friend used to refer to the news as “Scaring America.” He’d say, “Tonight! On Scaring America…” about the latest warning issued by the news. It seems like everything you do can cause harm of some kind. Every food we eat is potentially dangerous. Something that is a miracle food one day is vilified the next. I don’t want to scare anyone away from using essential oils. I am a Certified Aromatherapist, so I obviously believe that they have a place in a holistic lifestyle. I do, however, want us all to use them with caution and respect.

My dad was a metal fabricator and a woodworker. He used some serious tools (some were giant machines). With those tools he made some amazing and beautiful things. He also made sure to follow safety protocols such as wearing protective eyewear, earplugs and safety shutoffs. He taught me from an early age to do the same and how to be careful while I was near him while he was using his tools. He worked with guys that lost fingers. My grandfather lost an eye in a factory accident. Should you never use tools because you could lose a limb or lose your life? That would be one approach, but then we would not have a home to live in or furniture to fill it. The key is balance. Know how to use your tools safely and you can make things that make life better. Sure, accidents will still happen, but most are preventable with some basic safety in mind. The same is true with essential oils. Know how to use them safely. Use them with caution and respect and be amazed at the results.

And just in case, keep this number handy at all times!

Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222

Poison Control is available 24/7 and they have info about toxicity about hundreds of substances, including essential oils. In fact, according to the 2013 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, there were 11,302 cases regarding essential oils during that year. Poison Control has a great article about how essential oils can be poisonous when misused and an entire article devoted to potential dangers of tea tree oil. With each article, be sure to read the “This Really Happened” reports of poisoning in the margin. Before going on Facebook to ask what to do, call Poison Control when accidents with essential oils happen. Sometimes, every second counts!

If you missed it the first time around, go back and read Answers to Safety Questions: The Essential Oil Safety Pop Quiz Results (Part 1). Next up will be Part 3 with some interesting demographic and usage information as reported by the 552 people that participated in the Essential Oil Safety Pop Quiz.

Read more articles about essential oils on Marvy Moms. Save time making essential oil blends with safe dilutions with the Essential Oil Dilution Calculator.

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About Emily Carpenter

Emily is a Web Whiz, Blogger, Speaker, Student, and Mom. She is the owner of WhizBang! Web Solutions LLC, and the founder of Marvy Moms. She loves working from home so that she can be there for every possible moment with her son, JW. Learning as she goes, Emily breastfed, bought cloth diapers (but never used them), made her son’s baby food, had a family bed for nearly two years, and loves spending time with her son. Emily is a certified Level II Reiki practitioner and offers her services both in-person and remotely to people interested in this energetic healing modality. Emily is currently enrolled as a student at the American Academy of Homeopathy to become a Certified Classical Homeopath and has earned a diploma in botanical medicine at Botanical Medicine Institute. She is also a Certified Aromatherapist, and received her training from Aromahead Institute.