Aromatherapy for Skin Irritation
One way that aromatherapy can benefit cancer patients going through radiation treatments is through skin care. There are many essential oils that are beneficial for their anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, normalizing, moisturizing or soothing properties, including lavender, neroli, rose and sandalwood.
Before using aromatherapy for radiation burns it is important to discuss this treatment choice with your doctor. This form of complementary medicine can speed healing and sooth the skin, but it is important to use essential oils safely. First, never apply directly to the skin. Always dilute in a carrier substance such as distilled water, or a natural oil such as jojoba, olive or sweet almond. Second, use only a small amount, such as 2 to 3 drops for every ounce of carrier substance. Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extractions (for example, one ounce of rose oil is extracted from an acre of roses). Third, talk to your doctor about any possible interactions and about the appropriateness of using aromatherapy for your individual needs.
For a simple, natural treatment for burns make a soothing aromatherapy mist — use 2 drops each of neroli and lavender essential oil in 2 ounces of distilled water, spring water or aloe vera juice. Put in a spray bottle and mist over burns. This is only an example of how aromatherapy can be used for easing the discomfort of radiation therapy — only use after talking with your health care provider.
Avoid the photo-toxic essential oils or irritating, sensitizing oils. They can increase the skin's sensitivity, which is exactly what you do not want when exposed to radiation therapy. The citrus oils, including bergamot and lemon verbena are photo-toxic. Cinnamon, clove and caraway are examples of oils that can be irritating to the skin.
Read on to learn more about the use of aromatherapy and radiotherapy.