Safety is a very important aspect of aromatherapy. Not only is it necessary to keep clients safe but also oneself,
with proper education and care. When administering a skin patch test its important to remember to never use
more than the recommended amount of essential oil. Essential oils that have a low therapeutic margin should be
used with extra care. Eyes and mucous membranes are areas that should always be avoided. Skin patch testing
should only be done on pregnant women or infants with essential oils that are proven to be safe. One that comes
to mind and is one of my favorites is neroli essential oil.
Skin patch testing is used to determine if a specific oil is an irritant or a sensitizer to an individual. It is a very
important primary step when using essential oils therapeutically or at all. Many issues can be avoided by first
conducting a skin patch test. Always use the correct concentration of essential oil. Use unscented soap on the
forearm before administering the skin patch test. An essential oil blend diluted with a base oil, such as almond oil
should be tested on the clean forearm. Use just enough essential oil blend to moisten the skin, not saturate it.
Cover the moistened area with sterile gauze and leave there for up to 24 hours. If any itching or burning occurs
remove gauze and wash area. If burning or itching does occur this essential oil should not be used on that
Testing undiluted essential oils is done very similar to diluted essential oil blends. Wash the crook of the arm
thoroughly and then apply one single drop of the oil. Bend the arm until it is closed for 5 minutes. Open and close
the arm again. If any burning or stinging occurs wash the arm thoroughly and do not use that specific oil on the
It is very important to administer skin patch testing before use, whether you are doing it on yourself or a client.
Safety should always be the first step when using aromatherapy.
Petersen D., (1986-2016). AROMA 203. Module 3: Safety. Portland, OR: American College of Healthcare Sciences.
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