This woman's harrowing experience with essential oils is a reminder that you should always read warning labels, even for something labeled natural.
Scary Mommy reports that Elise Nguyen dabbed a few drops of doTerra oil on her skin before a hot yoga class. She didn't read the fine print and ended up with third-degree burns after she paid a visit to her tanning salon.
Nguyen explains that she dabbed the oil straight from the bottle to her neck and wrists. After her yoga class, she went to prep for a Jamaican wedding with a session on a tanning bed, where she triggered a horrifying reaction.
"Over the next couple of days, I developed nasty blisters due to a chemical burn," Nguyen told Scary Mommy. "Turns out, there is a teeny tiny caution on the oil that states 'stay out of sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after application' or something like that. I developed second- and third-degree burns from the oils."
At first, Nguyen blamed a new detergent on the burns, but after seeing the warning, she knew that the oils were what caused the reaction. Good Housekeeping adds that while not everyone uses tanning beds — and Nguyen doesn't blame doTerra for her forgetting to examine the instructions — most people do get some sort of UV exposure every day. Nguyen is healing from the burns and blisters, but she adds that it's slow going and that she still has open skin that hurts when she moves suddenly and the wounds reopen.
Good Housekeeping explains that in Nguyen's case, it's an instance of photosensitivity. DoTerra's website explains the warning this way: "If exposed to sunlight (which gives off UV radiation) after topical application of a photosensitive oil, the skin may become temporarily darkly pigmented, red, or irritated. Exposing photosensitive skin to sunlight can also increase risk for cancer."
Birnur Aral, PhD, explains that just because something like an essential oil seems totally natural doesn't mean that it's okay to skim over warnings and instructions. It's important to understand how to use (and not use) a product, no matter what it is.
"Products marketed as essential oils can contain high levels of a single or a mixture of plant oils that can be harsh on sensitive skin without a hot yoga class and a tanning bed appointment that can be irritating on their own," Aral explained. "We consumers tend to think that anything plant-derived is 'natural' and therefore innocuous, which may not always be the case."
"I'm not blaming the company, it was my own damn fault," Nguyen wrote on Facebook. "I just want everyone to be aware of this [...] I wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else."