The cutaneous way is the most common way of use of essential oils. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and is therefore very accessible. This makes it possible to take full advantage of the properties of essential oils, whether they are therapeutic, cosmetic or for well-being. Essential oils penetrate the skin very quickly, and can have a systemic as well as a localized action. The cutaneous way is the most adapted for certain sensitive users such as children or pregnant women. Essential oils can nevertheless present risks of use: they can contain irritating or even dermocaustic molecules, can present a phototoxic risk or cause skin allergies. It is therefore necessary to respect some precautions to use them safely, such as performing an allergy test before use or diluting them according to the situation.
The skin is the easiest, fastest and most effective way to administer essential oils for 3 reasons:
Indeed, essential oils pass very easily through the different layers of the skin, on the one hand thanks to their low molecular weight, and on the other hand thanks to their lipophilic character. This allows them to quickly reach the bloodstream without affecting or being affected by the digestive system. Blood determinations have already been performed a few minutes after application, showing the presence of aromatic molecules in the blood. Fifty minutes to 2 hours later, these molecules can even be present in the exhaled air.
The cutaneous route is also used because it presents the least risk of use and allows for both local and systemic or olfactory action as needed. It can therefore be of real interest in the following cases:
It is generally best to dilute essential oils for better skin tolerance. Since essential oils are lipophilic, it is possible to dilute them in fatty carriers, the most common being vegetable oils. The interest of diluting essential oils in a vegetable oil is twofold: it allows both to facilitate the application thanks to the fatty texture of vegetable oils, but also and above all to have a longer and more homogeneous penetration of aromatic compounds. The deeper the essential oil must penetrate, the more fluid its dilution medium must be. Vegetable oils also allow them to act in synergy with essential oils. For example, the vegetable oil of Arnica will be complementary to anti-inflammatory essential oils in case of joint or muscle pain.
Essential oils can be diluted in any proportion, and in some particular cases can be used pure. Many parameters come into play, which is why it is difficult to set a clear and precise dilution rule for essential oils. The dilution will indeed depend on:
The frequency and duration of application will depend mainly on the action sought, however it is preferable to limit oneself to a duration of 3 weeks maximum for adults, the conventional duration of a cure which can be renewed if necessary by preserving a week's interval. For children, this duration can be reduced to 5 days.
It is first of all necessary to know the equivalence between the number of drops and the corresponding volume. This is usually specified on the bottle or the website, and is equivalent to :
Here are some examples of dilution:
For all essential oils that present a dermocautic risk in their pure state, a 10% maximum dilution in a carrier or a mixture of essential oils is generally advised, except in exceptional cases such as very localized skin infections (wart, mycosis, etc.).
The cutaneous way is the way of use privileged for the children because it is one of softest. The skin of children and babies is indeed thinner than that of adults. The absorption of the aromatic molecules of essential oils is thus largely higher in children and babies than in adults, as well as the distribution, the metabolism and the elimination. It is thus often preferable to dilute essential oils in a vegetable oil for any cutaneous application in the children and the babies, and to limit itself to 5 days of use maximum except medical opinion. This also makes it possible to combine the benefits of essential oils with those of massages.
Dermocaustic essential oils are not recommended for children under 6 years of age, except on medical advice.Essential oils authorized from 3 years old
If the use of hydrolat is generally to be privileged for the babies, some essential oils can be used from the youngest age to relieve naturally certain evils. The skin of the babies being fine and fragile, it is however necessary to systematically dilute them in a vegetable oil to avoid any risk of irritation, and to limit itself to 5 days of use maximum except medical opinion. The dilution in a vegetable oil also allows to associate the benefits of essential oils with that of massages, and to create a privileged moment with the child. The cutaneous way is the royal way for the babies, in the majority of the situations.
Dermocaustic essential oils are not recommended for children under 3 years of age, except on medical advice.Essential oils authorized from 3 months
Depending on the action sought of the essential oil, the areas of application are numerous:
As for using essential oils for hygiene, whether to scent or for their properties, you should know that essential oils are not miscible in water. They must therefore be diluted beforehand in a suitable medium: bath salt, shower gel, neutral shampoo, solubilizer, etc. Integrated into the bath, essential oils can have a therapeutic interest beyond conferring a pleasant smell:
The cutaneous way is the most flexible way of administration of essential oils, however certain precautions of use must be respected. Essential oils are indeed concentrates of molecules, which can present toxic risks. It is therefore important to know these risks in order to use essential oils safely.
The phenols (carvacrol, thymol, eugenol) and aromatic aldehydes (cinnamaldehydes and cuminaldehyde) present in some essential oils can cause burns. These essential oils should therefore be used on very localized areas, and diluted to a maximum of 10%.
Examples: Origans, Savories, Cloves, Cinnamons, Savory leaf thyme, Ajowan etc.
Someterpene aldehydes(citrals) and monoterpenes (alpha-pinene, limonene, etc.) present in excess of 50% can also cause a strong inflammatory reaction and be considered dermocaustic in their pure state.
Examples: citrus essences, Lemon Eucalyptus, Combava, Exotic and Odorous Verbena, Lemongrass, Melissa, Turpentine, etc..
This is the most common risk of essential oils through the skin. Some essential oils can indeed cause skin redness, pruritus, etc. The main molecules that can cause skin irritation are certain monoterpenes and monoterpenols, up to 30% (alpha-pinene, limonene, menthol for example), terpenic ethers, certain terpenic aldehydes (citronellal) and methyl salicylate. Based on this toxicity, it is recommended that the essential oil be diluted to no more than 20%.
Examples: citrus essences (Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, etc.), Peppermint, Field Mint, Pines and Firs, Juniper, Turpentine, Lemongrass, Verbena, Fragrant Gaultheria, etc.
Essential oils contain many allergenic molecules in varying quantities. The molecules classified as cosmetic allergens are : anisyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, cinnamic alcohol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, citrals, citronellol, coumarins, eugenol, farnesol, geranial, geraniol, isoeugenol, limonene, linalool, neral, benzyl salicylate and trans-cinnamaldehyde. They can cause allergic reactions on the skin, so it is necessary to always perform an allergy test before any use of essential oils.How do I perform an allergy test?
Essential oils containing bicyclic aromatic molecules such as coumarins are known as photosensitizing, or phototoxic. These molecules are often found in trace amounts in essential oils obtained by expression such as citrus essential oils, but not exclusively. In the event of exposure to the sun, these substances can cause redness or brown spots or even irreversible depigmentation. For these oils, it will be necessary to take care not to expose the skin to the sun in the 8 to 12 hours after application or ingestion. For cosmetic use, there are citrus essential oils without coumarins.
Example of photo-sensitizing essential oils: all citrus essences (Lemon, Bergamot, Mandarin, Orange, etc.) Angelica, Fennel, Khella,...Healing with oils... Theophane de la Charie
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