Woman claims she suffered chemical burns while using essential oil diffuser

A woman based in London is urging her followers to warn others on the potential dangers of essential oils and diffusers after she claims she suffered chemical burns on her face and eyes. Emily Smith, who took to Facebook to post photos of her alleged injuries, said that she was using an electric diffuser in her home along with a mix of patchouli oil and others at the time of her accident.

“I walked over to the diffuser and held the button down for a number of seconds (as this is the way to shut it off),” Smith wrote in the Nov. 8 post. “In the process of turning the appliance off, some of the vapor from the diffuser must have sprayed onto my face. But I didn’t think anything of this. Whilst I was somewhat aware of the danger of getting essential oils directly on my skin, I was unaware that the vaporized ‘diluted’ oil from my diffuser could also be dangers.”

Smith said that when she went to put another log on a fire that she had been burning, she felt stinging on her face but didn’t realize at the time that it could be due to the oils that had splashed on her face.


“I ran my face under a tap for ten minutes, then soaked it in cold water for twenty minutes whilst I rang 111 for medical guidance,” she posted. “I described the red, unblistered burn to the operator, who affirmed that I had only suffered first degree burns, and that professional medical attention would not be necessary.”

Smith posted that she followed instructions to treat the burns with aloe and cold water, but woke hours later to take painkillers and noticed her eyes were bloodshot. The next morning, she claims her face was unrecognizable.

“My face had swollen, my eyes were blurred and continually watering and my skin looked pus-y,” she posted. “My face and eyes burned and I was unsure whether this transition was normal for a burn.”

Smith reportedly landed in the emergency room where a nurse allegedly peeled blisters off her skin before being diagnosed with chemical burns.


“All in all, the process took over 12 hours and in that time I was able to do some reflection and research,” Smith said. “By then I had realized the link between the diffuser spraying on my face and what had happened. I discovered the real danger of these essential oils, and realized that when the diffuser had sprayed onto me, essential oils had soaked onto my face and eyes and remained there. When exposed to the fire, these had a chemical reaction and ‘ignited’. Had I realized this earlier, I might have been given priority at the hospital, and treated faster.”

Smith did not identify which electric diffuser she was using, but said that it advertises as safe for use around children and pets. She said she purchased it online, and while she said she doesn’t discourage people from using diffusers and oils, she wants others to know about potential risks associated with the product.

“My face and eyes were chemically burned,” Smith posted. “I’m extremely fortunate to have my sight at all, and lucky that the burn wasn’t worse, but I have suffered permanent eye damage and am potentially facially scarred for life. A life changing incident, that was preventable.”