Essential oils and children are, well, like oil and water: they don’t mix. “I would certainly advise teens and children not to use essential oils,” Jessica Krant, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York City’s SUNY Downstate Medical Center, told WebMD.
One study found that prepubescent boys who topically applied products containing lavender and tea tree oils developed breast tissue (via The New England Journal of Medicine). The study concluded that “repeated topical exposure to lavender and tea tree oils probably caused prepubertal gynecomastia in these boys.” Other essential oils can also cause problems in children. Both eucalyptus and peppermint oils contain phenol, which can cause irritation to the respiratory tract when breathed in (via WebMD). This is especially dangerous for babies.
Essential oils have been around for hundreds of years, but we’re still learning all there is to know about them. While some kinds may be safe for use on or around children, endocrinologist Corrine Welt, a professor of medicine at the University of Utah, feels that more studies are needed, as she told KUTV.