Is it true that you can never use essential oils on children?

By Marco Valussi

Yes and no. As with the ingestion of essential oils, the argument is complex. Children, the elderly, pregnant women and breastfeeding women, as well as subjects with liver problems and other chronic conditions, are subjects that need special attention because they may not be able to handle essential oils as a "standard" person. Specifically, children may have a skin too thin or not yet fully competent to deal with irritant molecules, their liver may not be able to metabolize some of the essential oil molecules, their immune system may be at a stage in which it is more dangerous to expose it to potentially ambiguous immune stimuli, etc. Risk-benefit assessments are more difficult in children, and it is not inevitable that what is an acceptable risk in an adult is for a child.

Of course this does not mean an absolute ban in the use of essential oils, also because there are more differences between a 13-year-old boy and a 1 year old child, than between a 13-year old and an "adult" of 18.

As a general rule, I always prefer the use of essential oils in children up to 12 months of age, unless they are evaluated as necessary by a professional and I am convinced that in most cases up to 2 years old there is no .You need to use them and you can use the olfactory effects safely using a few drops dispersed in the environment. Remember that it is not a good idea to introduce substances that are so powerful in the skin of young children. As a general rule, remember that for children it is best not to exceed 3-6 drops of essential oils over the 24 hours.

Essential oils containing 1.8-cineol (eucalyptol) and menthol such as peppermint, peppermint, green mint, eucalyptus, rosemary should never be put near the nostrils of young children. There are cases reported in literature where the rapid cooling effect caused by these essential oils has caused severe respiratory problems and even collapses.

Never, under any circumstances, add pure essential oils directly into the bath, may cause severe skin and eye irritation. Always be careful that your hands do not keep traces of pure essential oils before touching the baby or washing it.

For a more exhaustive list of essential oils NOT to use, here is a link to a table (essential oils contraindicated in children) obtained from Tisserand and Young's text (2014)



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