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Essential oils have been used for treating various ailments for a long time now. They are used widely now as they possess various medicinal properties. One such essential oil, which is used as a home remedy for respiratory problems, is eucalyptus oil as it possesses antiseptic and antibacterial properties. For the various benefits it offers, you might be tempted to use it on your baby if he suffers from a cold or congestion, but should you use it on your baby? It is important that you understand whether it is safe for babies or not.
What Is Eucalyptus Oil?
Eucalyptus oil is obtained from the leaves of eucalyptus trees. Eucalyptus oil is used in medicines, as a perfume, and also has some industrial uses too. It is a colourless liquid and has a sweet and strong woody smell. More than 700 species of eucalyptus are found in the world, of which only 500 odd species are used to produce the essential oil.
Are There Any Benefits of Using Eucalyptus Oil?
Eucalyptus oil is used as a natural therapy to treat pneumonia, bronchitis, cough, cold, and other respiratory diseases. It helps strengthen the immune system too. It improves respiratory circulation and has antioxidant properties. Cineole present in eucalyptus oil is an organic compound which offers a lot of benefits like lowering pain and inflammation.
Eucalyptus oil offers a cure for the following:
Cold and flu – The essential oil cleans the body of harmful microorganisms and the toxins that cause common cold and flu.
Hair damage – Eucalyptus oil is used with olive and coconut oil to moisturise the hair and treat dandruff and itchy scalp. Eucalyptus oil helps nourish the hair.
Allergies – Eucalyptus oil helps treat sinus and allergies and is also used as a room freshener. The anti-microbial properties of eucalyptus oil also help kills germs.
Is Eucalyptus Oil Safe for Babies?
A common query among parents is whether eucalyptus oil is safe for babies or not. While it is true that eucalyptus oil has many beneficial properties, using eucalyptus oil for a baby suffering from cold may be unsafe because of the following reasons:
Eucalyptus oil may have very high cineole content which can lead to breathing problems and nervous system issues in young children. The amount of cineole will depend on the chemotype or the species of the plant.
Even if the variety of essential oil you use does not have high cineole content, it may still have compounds that can harm children. These compounds may cause irritation or a burning sensation on your baby’s skin.
Eucalyptus oil, if ingested, can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain, and other side effects like breathing problems and wheezing. Its application may also lead to extreme cases of coma and seizures.
This oil can also trigger asthma attacks in some babies.
Using Eucalyptus Oil for a Cold
If you do want to use eucalyptus oil on a baby’s blocked nose, it is important to know the right and safe way of using it. Plus, you should also know what type of eucalyptus oil is safe for babies. You should avoid using Eucalyptus globulus for children, as it is not safe for kids under the age of 2. Eucalyptus radiata can be used, but even this should be used only after consulting with a paediatrician.
How to Use Eucalyptus Oil for Babies
You can use eucalyptus oil to soothe and open the airways of your baby’s nostrils if you follow a few precautions.
To use eucalyptus oil for a cold, put two drops of the oil on a tissue or cotton ball and keep it at a safe distance from your baby.
For a blocked nose, add three drops of oil to a bowl of boiling water and place it under the baby’s crib. The rising steam releases the essential oil and can provide comfort to your baby.
The oil should not be applied near the child’s mouth or nose as it may cause respiratory problems to him.
Although eucalyptus oil may be used with some precautions, it is still not recommended for babies because of its side effects. So here are some alternative methods you can try instead of using eucalyptus oil.
Alternatives to Eucalyptus Oil for Treating Baby’s Congestion
Instead of using any essential oil for treating congestion, you can follow the methods mentioned below to put your baby to ease. These include the following:
1. Nasal aspirator
A nasal aspirator can be used to clear mucus from the baby’s nose. It can also be used to clear the baby’s airways so that the child can breathe easily.
2. Hot water compress
Using a hot water compress can loosen the thick mucus blocking your baby’s nose, throat, or his chest. Take a small cotton cloth dipped in hot water and squeeze out the excess water. Apply the hot water compress on the affected area to treat congestion. Remember, that you should not put the hot cloth directly on your baby’s chest. Furthermore, the cloth should be warm or else your baby may get hurt.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Using Eucalyptus Oil on Your Baby
No doubt, eucalyptus oil offers a number of benefits, but it is not suitable for children, particularly for kids who are below 10 years of age. Using eucalyptus oil on babies can lead to side effects, which could range from mild to severe. If you do use eucalyptus oil on your baby, and he experiences any breathing difficulties after inhaling the oil, consult a doctor immediately. Some people think that using diluted eucalyptus oil won’t harm the baby, but that’s not correct. Even the diluted eucalyptus oil can harm the baby. Remember: eucalyptus oil is not safe for babies. Hence, you should refrain from using this oil for babies and toddlers.
Even small or diluted amounts of eucalyptus oil can lead to serious reactions in babies, and it is advisable to steer clear of it. Use one of the recommended alternative solutions to clear your baby’s congestion.