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Can Essential Oil Burn Your Skin?

How 1 Small Beauty Mistake Caused a Woman's Horrifying Third-Degree Burns

Fans of yoga know that a few drops of essential oil can enhance the experience — but one woman found out the hard way that they can also be incredibly harmful. Scary Mommy reported that Facebook user Elise Nguyen suffered second- and third-degree burns after failing to read the fine print on her oils.

Elise explained that prior to a hot yoga class, she applied Doterra essential oils to her skin, then immediately followed her workout with a session in a tanning bed. "The next day, I noticed irritation where I applied the oil," she said. In the days to follow, she developed horrifying chemical burns. "Turns out, there is a teeny tiny caution on the oil that states 'stay out of sunlight or UV rays for up to 12 hours after application' or something like that," she shared. "I developed second and third degree burns from the oils."

The terrifying images (seen below) are likely due to a case of phytophotodermatitis which occurs when photosensitizing compounds in certain foods (such as citrus fruits, a popular source of essential oils) are exposed to UV. A chemical reaction takes place, resulting in skin issues from hyperpigmentation to burns. Elise's choice to lay in a tanning bed — which are full of UV, of course — after applying the oils magnified the effects of phytophotodermatitis, resulting in this extremely painful burn.

Elise is not trying to blame Doterra, but spread awareness. "Every yogi that I've talked to has no clue that this could have happened," she said. "So as summer is getting closer, and the weather is getting nicer, I just want everyone to be aware of this. Please, please read the bottles of anything you put on your skin. I wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else. It's been hell."

Though it's unlikely that after reading Elise's story that anyone would forget to take caution with their essential oils, we recommend enjoying your favorite aromas in a different way. We like using the ArtNaturals Bluetooth Oil Diffuser ($59), which acts as a humidifier while filling a room with your essential oil of choice. And remember, always read the fine print on your favorite products! See Elise's horrifying story in full when you read on.

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