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Essential oil side effects and allergy risks

Posted at 6:34 PM, Aug 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 16:27:59-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Earlier this summer we highlighted some of the dangers essential oils pose for children and pets. They include oils getting accidentally eaten or inhaled but essential oils can also be dangerous for adults. Morning Anchor Courtney Johns talked to one woman who says these oils sent her to the emergency room.

Years ago, Rachael Armstrong used essential oils on everything.

"I think we used a minimum of five a day," she says.

Now she won't even touch the bottles with her bare skin. It all started when she went to her son's baseball game.

"Saying a rash is just not justifying it," she says.

It got worse if she spent any time outside...even in the shade.

"A couple days later it would be scaly and it would peel off and the next time it was oozing and really bad," she says.

When Rachael went to the emergency room she says they couldn't figure out what was wrong.

"What am I? What is it? Am I eating something? What is it that is doing this," she remembers.

After taking some tests, the results came back that Rachael's rash was a contact allergy but doctors couldn't say with certainty what caused it.

That's when she began looking at what she was putting on her skin.

"I went to the store and they were like it's something you're using topically...stop using it," she says.

Dr. Melissa Darling at Midwest Dermatology says, "All of the sudden your immune system can develop an allergy at any time to something you have been using."

Darling says she's seen an increase in patients having trouble with essential oils during the last few years.

"It can be kind of an itchy rash, usually if it's an allergy it can be more itchy... it can be bumps or scaly patches wherever you're placing it."

Darling says patients also can come in with burns after suing citrus oils outside.

"It says right here...avoid UV rays for 12 hours after applying this product," Armstrong reads from a bottle of essential oil.

Rachael says she's not sure what specific oils caused the problem but once she stopped using the oils...her symptoms slowly started to improve.

Now, oil free, she's sharing her story...not to stop others from using essential oils but to make sure they know an all-natural product can be powerful.