Phototoxic Essential Oils

Aromatherapy can be used in various ways to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. However, it's important to be aware of the potential risks associated with their use, particularly in relation to phototoxicity. Phototoxicity refers to the skin's increased sensitivity to sunlight or ultraviolet (UV) radiation when certain substances, such as specific essential oils, are applied topically. When phototoxic essential oils are used and the skin is exposed to sunlight or UV rays, it can lead to adverse reactions, ranging from mild irritation to severe burns which take a long time to heal. 

There are a small number of essential oils that increase the skins sensitivity to UV light. These oils contain compounds called furanocoumarins (FCF), which can absorb UV light and cause damage to the skin. Common phototoxic essential oils include Bergamot, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit and Orange. When these oils are applied to the skin and exposed to sunlight, whether it is outside in the sun or under a sunbed/tanning lamp, the phototoxic compounds can react with UV radiation, leading to a phototoxic reaction. It's important to note that not all essential oils are phototoxic, and some are considered safe for use in the sun. 

The Bergamot I use is FCF (Furocoumarin Free) which means it reduces the photosensitive properties and is safe to use in massage blends and in perfumes and can be used in the sun. Bergamot FCF is a safer alternative to traditional bergamot essential oil which has been identified as phototoxic. It can be used in body creams or oils, roller oils, room sprays or diffuser blends. 

To minimise the risk of phototoxicity, it's crucial to take proper precautions when using essential oils. First, always check the safety guidelines and contraindications for each essential oil you plan to use, paying specific attention to phototoxic oils (check this out with a qualified aromatherapist). Avoid direct sunlight for at least 12 to 24 hours after applying oils. If you experience any adverse reactions like redness, blistering, or severe burns after using an essential oil, seek medical attention immediately. 

In conclusion, while essential oils can offer numerous benefits, it's important to be aware of their potential phototoxicity. Understanding which essential oils are phototoxic and taking appropriate precautions can help ensure safe and enjoyable use. Always read and follow safety guidelines, dilute oils, and avoid sun exposure after applying phototoxic oils to minimise the risk of skin damage. If in doubt, consult with a qualified aromatherapist to ensure safe usage of essential oils. 



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