What to Do If You Have an Essential Oil Adverse Reaction: First Aid Protocols and Numbers to Call

This blog post has evidence-based procedures for addressing irritations or allergies to essential oil adverse reactions and a full resource download guide to essential oil first aid. You’ll also learn the commonly recommended ‘first-aid’ remedies which studies have surprisingly found to be ineffective.

If someone is having an essential oils adverse reaction and you believe urgent care is needed, call your local poison center or seek emergent medical attention.

Emergency Telephone Numbers (or ask Siri to call poison control)

National Poison Emergency Hotline: 1-800-222-1222 or call 911.

No centralized emergency hotline. Look up your local poison control center, or call 911.

National Poison Emergency Hotline: 131126. Or call 000.

Eye Contact First Aid

  • Flush eye(s) with several drops of liquid vegetable oil batting eye continuously to cover whole eye.
  • Flush eye(s) with water for several minutes while holding open the eyelids to ensure the whole eye is flushed.
    • The easiest flushing method may be to enter the shower.
    • Alternatively, use a faucet or kitchen sink sprayer.
    • Alternatively, fill a wide container of filtered water and submerge the face while batting the eye(s) to ensure a whole-eye flush.
  • If contact lenses are present protect against loss. You may flush the eyes with the contact in for a few minutes or until the reaction lessens and remove the contact(s) as soon as possible before continuing.
  • Do not add soap to the eye(s).
  • Seek medical attention if irritation is serve or persists.

Ingestion First Aid 

  • Seek medical attention if appropriate; if in doubt call proper hotline.
  • Rinse mouth with a vegetable oil and then lukewarm water (unless the child is convulsing or unconscious).
  • Do not induce vomiting due to aspiration risk.
  • Do not give activated charcoal; it has been found to be ineffective with essential oil poisoning.[1]
  • After suspected ingestion of an essential oil, asymptomatic children should be closely observed for six hours; drinking water is encouraged.

Inhalation Over-exposure

  • Remove any potentially contaminated linens or clothing
  • If possible, remove the over-exposed from the room
  • If possible open widows/doors, ventilate the area of diffusion with any available fans
    • Since it is often not possible to easily do any of these actions in a birth, advise the mother to consider a more conservative application method.

The first aid protocols for topical adverse reaction are based on the type of reaction it is: please see the accompanying download for more information, how to recognize reaction type and the first aid protocols for effective response. This information is not intended to replace medical advice. 

[1] Jepsen, F., Ryan, M. Poisoning in children. Current Pediatrics. 2005; 15:563–568. Riordan, M., Rylance, G., Berry, K. Poisoning in Children 4: Household Products, Plants, And Mushrooms. Arch. Dis. Child. 2002; 87:403–406.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *