Avoiding the Unwanted Phototoxic After-Effects from Fun in the Sun with Essential Oils
A few weeks ago, I shared my personal story about the series of unfortunate events stemming from my lax attitude toward the phototoxic potential of certain essential oils. I am embarrassed to admit this isn’t the first time I got stuck wearing pants in 90°F as a result.
I went into all the details on how this happened at the biochemical level here. I also broke it down in plain English:
Phototoxic reactions can occur when certain sun-sensitizing essential oils applied to the skin are “activated” by exposure to UV rays. This can cause an inflammatory skin response resulting in sunburn, redness, and/or discolored and uneven color.
The good news is you can take precautions to avoid this negative response. These include:
- Being aware of which oils are photosensitizing.
- Waiting 12-18 hours before heading out into the sun after application of these essential oils.
- Covering areas that are exposed following topical use.
- Using these tips if you get caught in the rays unexpectedly.
The bottom line is you don’t need to freak out! If you wait the proper amount of time and take the necessary precautions (including this mineral sunscreen), you don’t have to fear these essential oils while planning a long day in the sun!
You can watch my video blog to access the summary of everything you need to know regarding topical application of essential oils while spending time in the sunshine; however there is more to add to this topic.
I promised I’d return to this subject to answer the residual, burning question percolating in your minds that was temporarily put on hold. After all, we needed to partake in the excitement of celebrating the recent product releases from the Young Living Essential Oils International Grand Convention.
Many of you asked, “What about ingesting these same essential oils?!”
Here’s my response after digging a little deeper. *
*(Note: this is my conclusion after exploring the sources listed, consulting with mentors, and from my 17-years of using essential oils in my clinic.)
Digging Deeper into the Concept of Phototoxicity with Essential Oils: The Sequel
After the paddleboard-skin-altering- essential oil incident of June 2018, it was noted among my loved ones that my love of pants in 90°weather was becoming inappropriate. An explanation was called for.
Not many words were needed, I just lifted up my pant leg to show my calf.
Brown patches galore. Enough said.
My mom’s response, “Again?”
After a cup of ego-soothing green tea and my embarrassment starting to diminish, the topic resurfaced and went in a different direction.
The infamous Terry Quigley (AKA my mom) asked me, “Have you heard that even ingesting citrus oils can cause phototoxicity?”
I almost had a whiplash as my head popped up from my pretty sweet Rummy hand, thinking, “Mamma say what!?”
“Uhhh…no,” I said, embarrassed times three.
“Well, I was on Lindsey Elmore’s blog, and she mentioned it,” Ms. Quigley calmly replied as she gently placed down her three aces for a 45 point run.
“Uhhh, I missed that,” I said mumbling and feeling a bit peeved by both the aces and my unknowing mind.
I ran to my mom’s reliable Mac and jumped on Lindsey’s site. Sure enough, I read in her discussion regarding the furanocoumarins (FCs), which are the sensitizing agents, the following:
“Many essential oils that cause phototoxicity are ingestible citrus essential oils. Does ingestion also increase the risk of sunburn? The risk of skin sensitivity is highest when essential oils are applied to the skin. However, ingesting essential oils brings the same set of FCs, and it is possible that ingesting citrus essential oils can also increase the risk of sunburn.”
That said, the half life of essential oils (how long the chemical constituents last in the blood following ingestion or application) is very short. When you have a glass of lemon water in the morning, the FCs are eliminated within hours. Because of this, sipping citrus essential oils through the day may increase the risk of sunburn more than one glass in the morning. Makes sense–the higher the dose, the bigger the risk.”
When Lindsey Elmore, Pharm.D., BCPS, says something, I listen.
I take this into deep consideration, considering she’s got the gift of genius, experience with essential oils, and toeing the line in advocating for safety.
So, I did some digging into this concept.
Click here to get the details, in typical geek-out Dr. Sarah style. ?
- Safety First! Please review the resources for essential oils safety here.
- Essential Oils Quality
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Thanks Pixabay for the images!