Parents Warned Of “Toxic” Essential Oils As Child Poisoning Rates Double

We all know how important it is to keep dangerous household chemicals and medicines out of reach of small hands, but are you keeping all potentially toxic liquids in a safe place?

A huge rise in cases of children poisoned by essential oils, such as tea tree oil, suggests parents underestimate just how dangerous these substances can be.


A report shows that between 2011 and 2015, toxic exposure to essential oils have doubled, with four out of five cases affecting children.

“In children, poisoning typically occurs when they try to swallow the oil, but choke so that a little of it goes into the lungs, causing pneumonia,” explains Dr Justin Loden of Vanderbilt University’s Tenessee Poison Center.

Poison Control adds, “Many essential oils can cause rashes if used on the skin. Many can be poisonous if absorbed through the skin.”


“Highly toxic” essential oils include camphor, clove, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, tea tree and wintergreen oils. They can cause hallucinations, seizures, chemical burns and liver failure, amongst other symptoms.

“Few [oils] have been tested like medicines have, even though people put them in their mouths, on their skin, and in children’s vaporizers,” warns Dr. Loden.


He also advises checking when buying such oils that they come from registered sellers. Maria Guido of ScaryMommy warns, “Blogs filled with anecdotes about how the oils have positively affected the health of children do not take the place of actual research.”

“If something is being pushed as ‘medicinal’, it should be packaged like medicine: with childproof tops … Treat them as you would any other potentially harmful product — keep them out of reach.”

For more information head to Poison Control.