Woman Claims She Was Burned by Essential Oil Diffuser
Oil diffusers can be found in almost every home and are seemingly harmless, but 24-year-old Emily Smith is speaking out about her terrifying experience with hers in hopes of warning others to be more careful when using them.
On a recent evening, Smith says she was diffusing a blend of undiluted patchoili oil and other oils in her London home. She eventually went to turn off the machine, and hours later, she got up to tend to her fireplace. After putting a log on the pile, her skin started to sting, leading her to think she was somehow burned by the fire. “I ran my face under a tap for ten minutes, then soaked it in cold water for twenty minutes whilst I rang 111 (the UK version of 911) for medical guidance. I described the red, unblistered burn to the operator, who affirmed that I had only suffered first degree burns, and that professional medical attention would not be necessary. First degree burns are treated at home, with cold water and aloe vera/Vaseline. I followed the advice given, and went to bed,” she wrote on Facebook.
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
In the middle of the night, she woke up and her condition had worsened, so she applied more aloe vera and even took painkillers. By the next morning she says her face was swollen, her eyes were blurred and watering, and her skin was producing puss, so she went to the emergency room. After 12 hours she was diagnosed with a chemical burn.
By this time, she says she made the connection between her burns and her oil diffuser. “In the process of turning the appliance off, some of the vapor from the diffuser must have sprayed onto my face. But I didn’t think anything of this,” she says. “I discovered the real danger of these essential oils, and realized that when the diffuser had sprayed onto me, essential oils had soaked onto my face and eyes and remained there. When exposed to the fire, these had a chemical reaction and ‘ignited.’ Had I realized this earlier, I might have been given priority at the hospital, and treated faster.” Smith says she did treat her skin properly.
However, two days after posting about her experience, Smith said she’s been accused of faking her story. “It really breaks my heart that I have to do this post, but it has come to attention that certain individuals desperate for a conspiracy have been publicly spreading lies about me,” she wrote in another Facebook post. “I have never ever said that the burns came from an acid attack. I have written the exact events that happened from this DOMESTIC ACCIDENT from essential oils and a diffuser in full detail.”
Regardless, according to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, essential oils can definitely cause chemical burns. “If you are exposed to sunlight and that oil is on the skin, a severe burn-like reaction may occur. People commonly develop redness, burning, stinging, peeling and even blistering,” he told Refinery29.
Birnur Aral, Ph.D, Director of the Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute added: “In this case, since the product’s intended use was not for getting in direct contact with skin, manufacturers might have used some diluents or additives that are not for approved cosmetic use, which might have caused the severe burns.”
If your skin comes in contact with oils and you start experiencing a reaction, you should contact your physician immediately.