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Essential Oils

Medium Risk

Also known as:

aromatherapy oil aromatic oil fragrant oil

Possible Symptoms
  • mouth irritation
  • stomach irritation
  • skin irritation
  • eye irritation
What to Do
  1. Wipe or rinse out the mouth.
  2. Give a serving size of water to drink.
  3. Rinse any exposed skin with lukewarm water and soap.
  4. Call 1-800-222-1222 for additional instructions.
If Exposed to Eyes
  1. Start rinsing eye(s) with lukewarm water.
  2. Call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for further recommendations.


If there has been any coughing, gagging, or choking at the time of the ingestion, there is a risk for the essential oil to slip into the lungs (aspiration) and cause serious symptoms. Call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away for treatment advice.

Additional Information

Quick Facts about essential oils:

Many parents call the poison center asking, “my child swallowed an essential oil, what do I do?” Essential oils are derived from plant-based sources and are available in many formulations such as a single ingredient or blends of multiple oils. They are often used in the same ways as medications: applied to the skin, inhaled into the lungs (aromatherapy), or even taken by mouth. They are advertised for many uses, however, research studies to prove these recommendations are limited. Essential oils should be diluted correctly to decrease the chance of unwanted side effects. If an essential oil is ingested without being diluted, or someone drinks some of the oil, there can be irritation to the back of the throat triggering coughing, gagging and choking. While the choking is happening, some of the oil can “slip” into the lungs (aspiration) which can lead to serious symptoms such as a chemical pneumonia. Swallowing a small taste may cause vomiting from irritation to the stomach, however, some essential oils could cause more serious symptoms. IMPORTANT: Because some essential oils can be dangerous depending on the amount swallowed, always call to make sure your child is safe.

Essential oils left on the skin can cause burning and stinging of the area leading to redness and irritation. Eye exposures can cause redness and irritation. A thorough irrigation with water is important (call the Poison Center right away for instructions on how to rinse the eyes).

If you find your child with essential oils, do not panic. Take the bottle away from them, wipe out the mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. If your child is coughing, gagging or choking there may be a risk of aspiration into the lungs so be sure call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222 for expert instructions. The poison center is open all day, every day for poisoning emergencies and questions.

Take The Missouri Poison Center With You

Emergencies don’t wait for you, so you shouldn’t have to wait to call for help. Get the Missouri Poison Center app with poison information and a link to the Poison Help Line. It is just a click away during the most stressful moments. Our registered nurses and pharmacists are here 24/7/365 days a year to help guide you through poison exposures and overdose emergencies.

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