How to use essential oils effectively for skin disorders!

(Last Updated On: November 7, 2015)

INTRODUCTION

I had exhausted all forms of treatment options for my daughter’s hives problems in the last 5 years before I tried the magic of essential oils. She is only 8 years old but hives (urticaria) seems to have snatched a good part of her happy moments. Sometimes, she would wake up in the middle of the night, with generalized body itching. Raised, painful red spots followed a few minutes after each episode.  It was terrible and hard for me to helplessly watch her go through pain and discomfort. 

On doctors’ prescriptions, I tried all sorts of medications which range from drugs- painkillers , antihistamines and even series of antibiotics. All of these treatment patterns proved abortive.

However, the story changed when you convinced me about the benefits of essential oils and I decided to try it out. Viola! Today is the 5th day my daughter has been having an aromatic bath and inhalation with some essential oils. I must say she has achieved a lot more relief from the terrible itching than she could in the last 5 years.

The ugly skin eruptions are gradually fading away. She is also getting quick relief from the associated pains. I will surely stick with this oil treatment till her skin returns to the previous state. You are simply wonderful. Thank you doctor!

 

That is one of the numerous encouraging stories I have received from people whom I introduced to the wonderful therapeutic effect of essential oils.

 

Essential Oils: What are they?

Essential oils are basically extracts containing active ingredients in pure concentrated form, extracted from the leaves, seeds and even roots of plants. The nature of the active ingredients often determines the medicinal value.  While some have direct antifungal or antimicrobial effect against harmful microbes, other types of oil may be employed only because of the calming effect of its active ingredients.

Essential oils have become so popular in our society now more than ever before. This is remarkably so because of their profound historical therapeutic and non-therpeutic benefits. There is strong evidence to show the use of essential oils in aromatherapy to treat devastating respiratory disorders such as asthma, sinusities, etc; and even allergic skin conditions such as contact dermatitis, eczema, urticaria, angiodema, and other conditions.

Consequently, hundreds of thousands of Americans are currently using essential oils in one form or the other. Particularly, a number of moms are finding it healthier and safer to use essential oils as a better alternative solution to treat common medical problems and ailments. According to a study by the University of Maryland Medical Center, there have been increasing mainstream users who now opt for the use of natural essential oils in the treatment of medical conditions instead of orthodox treatment.

 

Pharmacology of Essential Oils

Research has also shown that essential oils work by stimulating certain olfactory receptors in the nose cavities. This stimulation causes afferent nervous impulses to travel to the amygdaloid and hippocampal regions of the brain. These are the two vital regions of the brain for emotions and memories.

So, every time you breathe in molecules of certain essential oils such as lavender, it stimulates the Amygdala, thereby altering the mental state at the time in a similar fashion as the pharmacology of certain class of drugs called benzodiazepine used to treat insomnia.

Some essential oils also have the ability to interact with enzymes and hormones, and affect human physiology for therapeutic results.

Certain essential oils also have antimicrobial properties through which they kill microbes or inactivate their toxins

 

Scientific Evidence for  Skin Conditions Treatable with Essential Oils

Eczema

There have been numerous studies carried out to find the scientific evidence for use of essential oils on the skin. In a study which evaluated treatment for children who had eczema, it was discovered that mothers who applied lavender oil on their children’s skin by massage achieved much improved results than those who didn’t apply any massage. The dry scaly lesions improved after a short course of the treatment, even though “mother’s therapeutic touch” seemed to help soothe the lesions as well!

lavender oil 

Image of Lavender oil

In another study carried out on some 86 individuals with Alopecia strata, an autoimmune disorder which results in patchy fall out of hair, individuals who massaged their scalp daily for 7 months with lavender oil had significant hair re-growth; compared to those not any essential oil therapy.

Acne 
Lavender is also a powerful essential oil used for the treatment of acne. It provides a soothing effect and calm the skin when used for acne around the face. For acne treatment purposes, the essential oil is to be used as face wash twice daily. You can also incorporate lavender into your daily beauty oils to prevent skin blemishes.

Wounds and Cuts 
The skin offers a protective barrier between the body and its environment. However, once there is a breach to this natural barrier through cuts or injuries, internal cells and tissues become exposed to the harmful effect of toxins from pathogens and other foreign particles. Some essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, grapefruit oils and others do have antimicrobial properties. Hence, their medicinal value is relied upon to treat microbial infection.

 

eucalyptus_oil

Image of eucalyptus oil

 

However, bear in mind that essential oils must not be applied directly on broken skin without being thoroughly diluted. First, make sure you clean the wound thoroughly and stop bleeding. Thereafter, you may want to apply ointment made from an essential oil such as eucalyptus oil. Peppermint tea can also be used to clean the wound because of its antiseptic effect.

DO’s and DON’Ts

 

Dos

ü  Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before you apply on your skin

ü  Essential oils are best stored in dark dry glass bottles and stored in cool locations.

ü  Due to subtle differences in individual body chemistry and to be sure you will not react to the active ingredients, it is better to start off with only a whiff of the oil.

ü   If you want to use an essential oil topically, do a patch test first to make sure you are not allergic. Rub a small amount onto your arm and wait 48 hours. If there is no skin reaction, it is probably OK to use.

ü  Discontinue the use of any essential oil you are allergic to and see your doctor immediately.

Don’ts

  • Don’t use in pregnancy! Several studies have shown that use of essential oils may not be totally safe in pregnancy.
  • Do not apply essential oils directly on mucous membranes in order to avoid their irritating effect.

 

  • Do not take essential oils internally without medical supervision because of their potential toxic effect.

 

  • Do to their photosensitive nature, essential oils should NOT be applied on the skin if you have a previously history of melanoma and other skin tumors.

 

  • Don’t give essential oils which contain anise to children less than 2 years of age.

 

In conclusion
when used in appropriate medical conditions and in compliance with approved medical guidelines, essential oils are safe and a very effective treatment against most skin disorders, respiratory conditions, nervous disorders and a host of other diseases. However, safety in pregnancy and newborns has not been established. You should also consult your doctor before you use essential oils on babies and children.

 

REFERENCES: 
Anderson C, Lis-Balchin M, Kifk-Smith M. Evaluation of massage with essential
oils in childhood atopic eczema. Phyother Res . 2000;14(6):452-456.
Auerbach P. Auerbach: Wilderness Medicine, 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA. Mosby
Elsevier. 2007.

Ernst E. The Desktop Guide to Complementary and Alternative Medicine: An
Evidence-Based Approach. Mosby, Edinburgh; 2001:130-132.

Howard S, Hughes BM. Expectancies, not aroma, explain impact of lavender
aromatherapy on psychophysiological indices of relaxation in young healthy
women. Br J Health Psychol. 2008 Nov;13(Pt 4):603-17.

Motomura N, Sakurai A, Yotsuya Y. Reduction of mental stress with lavender
odorant. Percept Mot Skills . 2001;93(3):713-718.

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