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Getting your feet wet in therapeutic aromatherapy, beyond burning a scented candle or soaking with a pleasing pre-packaged bath salt blend, can be a little daunting to many people. All those little bottles of pricey liquids, electric contraptions, and fancy-sounding blends - how does one actually use essential oils to improve their health, happiness and well-being? It's easier than one might think - getting started can open a whole new world of fun and effective natural remedies that can lift your mood, calm your nerves, and support healing of a great many common ailments.
The basics of aromatherapy are simple, once a few fundamental concepts are understood. Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils - the aromatic compounds of plants, extracted through steam distillation or other methods. The oils act as the chemical messengers and protectors of the plant kingdom. Each essential oil can contain hundreds of different 'volatile' (easily evaporated) compounds, most of which are very compatible with the physiology of the human body. What's so wonderful is they can also do for us what they do for plants - act as chemical messengers through affecting our smell sense and limbic system, and defending the body against foreign invaders by their anti-bacterial and anti-viral actions. In this article, we'll focus on the mental and emotional effects of aromatherapy, and address the physiological aspects at another time.
Essential oils are best used in one of two simple ways: through inhalation, where the oils can directly affect certain areas of the brain, and through topical application, where the oils are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. (Note: Oral ingestion can be an option, but only under experienced medical supervision - further, SOME OILS CAN BE TOXIC, and other even seemingly harmless oils should not be used under certain conditions. If you are pregnant, or have specific medical needs, consult a knowledgeable practitioner before continuing!)
Inhalation of Essential Oils
Essential oils when inhaled directly effect our limbic system, the brain's emotional centers. Many oils have been found to sharpen concentration, reduce tension and anxiety, and even reduce depression. How can we reap these magnificent benefits? There are a few simple, cost-effective ways to prepare essential oils for inhalation - and experience these wonderful effects: the 'handkerchief method', making your own 'smelling salts', and making your own aromatherapy 'mister'.
The handkerchief method is pretty straightforward - put a drop or two of an oil or blend on a tissue and inhale (careful with some oils though - peppermint, for example, can burn the sensitive skin around your nostrils if put in direct contact). You can even leave the tissue (or 'handkerchief, or piece of cloth, or cotton, or whatever) in a room or your workspace and the oil will continue to evaporate and have its effects.
Making your own 'smelling salts' is similar, though your preparation will last a while longer. To make the salts, fill a small vial (dark glass with a good cap is best) with natural sea salt and drop essential oils into the salt. The amount of oil is not too critical - enough that there is detectable aroma, and not so much that the salt gets completely wet. Just unscrew the cap and inhale from the bottle whenever you need a lift, or, like the handkerchief, leave the vial open in your space, letting the aroma slowly fill the area.
A 'mister' can be used infuse a room with aroma - just add essential oils to water in a small spray bottle, shake (before each use) and spray!
Here are a few easy recipes for the inhalation method (Note: in all recipes, the number of drops of oil and/or amount of carrier can be used as a ratio, which you can increase or decrease as you need):
For uplifting the mood and brightening the mind - 4 drops of Rosemary Cineol, 3 drops of Lavender, 2 drops of Lemon and 1 drop of Peppermint, OR 3 drops Clary Sage, 2 drops Bergamot and 1 drop Sweet Orange.
For calming anxiety - equal parts of Roman Chamomile, Bergamot and Orange, OR 3 drops Lavender, 2 drops Neroli and 1 drop Bergamot.
For creating a harmonious atmosphere - 3 drops Jasmine, 1 drop Ylang Ylang and 1 drop Sandalwood, OR equal parts Geranium, Patchouli and Bergamot.
Now for the topical application method. Usually this is described as aromatherapy massage - ideally, this is done with a partner, but self-massage will work as well. Creating your own massage oil is a straightforward process - just dilute 10 - 20 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil. There are a variety of carrier oils available, though Sweet Almond is a great all-around oil and is recommended for general aromatherapy massage. As for the massage, itself, any technique will do - let your intuition be your guide. When you wish to get a little more advanced, do a little further research to create synergy with certain essential oils and certain acupressure points.
The same blends for inhalation can be used for massage, though here are a few more fun recipes:
For a sensual massage, per ounce of carrier oil, add - 8 drops Sandalwood, 6 drops Rose, 4 drops Lavender and 2 drops Ylang Ylang.
For opening the heart, try 4 drops Spikenard, 4 drops Lavender and 2 drops of Rose.
Finally, for sheer relaxation, use 6 drops Lavender, 4 drops Neroli and 2 drops Bergamot.
Don't be afraid to create your own blends! You will certainly find particular oils that you enjoy - and aromatherapy is like that. It is the oils you find most enjoyable that are likely those that are most effective for you. My only recommendation is to change the ratios of oils you are blending very slowly. Start with one drop of each oil in a small vial, mixing them and allowing a few minutes for them to blend before adding more oil 1 drop at a time. In general, citrus oils ( Orange, Bergamot, Lemon, Lime) tend to bring alertness while calming at the same time. Herb oils (Peppermint, Rosemary) tend to be invigorating, while floral oils tend to be relaxing (Lavender, Chamomile, Jasmine, Neroli). This is only a guideline - many oils have complex properties and will affect individuals differently - use your nose as a guide.
Getting started with aromatherapy is easy, and with these simple ideas, you will be able to create essential oil preparations tailored to your needs and enjoyment. This can lead to a lifelong appreciation of these wonderful gifts from nature.
Using Essential oils for Cellulite Reduction
As you may know, Aromatherapy is the use of volatile liquid parts of plants, which are called essential oils, for various natural treatments. It is a holistic alternative therapy that has been used since antiquity from all major civilizations and its popularity has been increasing recently.
Cellulite is the dimpling skin found especially on thighs and sometimes on tummy, back of arms and bottom which looks lumpy and ripply. While it is harmless, cellulite discomforts female population especially in summer time. Almost every woman (even the slimmest ones) has cellulite to some degree. It is believed that cellulite is not only fat, but accumulation of fat, fluids and toxins which are trapped in the skin, owing to weakening of the connective tissue.
Keep in mind that there are many things to do to reduce cellulite, but nothing can eliminate one hundred percent the ?orange peel? surface of female skin at affected areas. Just to name few, increasing body exercise, decreasing fat income and sugar, drinking many cups of water, avoiding coffee and eating fruits rich in C vitamin, are suggested for combating cellulite. In this article we will present you some aromatherapy tips that can help you remove cellulite.
Essential oils can assist with anti-cellulite treatment in two major ways: Reducing body toxins, waste matter and imprisoned liquids and enhancing blood circulation. The essential oils that are used most for cellulite therapy are Juniper, Citrus, Rosemary, Lemon, Lemongrass, Grapefruit and Geranium oil. Bath and especially massage are the most effective Aromatherapy uses for a successful cellulite cure.
Add 5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil in your bath water and stay in it for at least fifteen minutes, once a week. This time allows essential oil to penetrate your skin and its diuretic and circulation boosting action to be more effective.
Aromatherapy massage is probably the most useful alternative method for treating cellulite because it is applied directly to the affected part of skin and encourage body detoxication and blood circulation. Carrier (or base) oils from various vegetables are used for essential oil dilution. Appropriate carrier oils for massage are among others, Avocado, Jojoba and Almond. Remember to follow carefully the safety rules for essential oils uses. Otherwise, you will run the risk to irritate and harm your skin.
Aromatherapy is not only a delightful and refreshing activity. It is beneficial for a lot of health conditions including skin diseases like cellulite. Using the right essential oils in bath and massage you can regenerate skin cells and reduce the toxins and fat that turn into cellulite.
About the Author: George Kakaris is a freelance writer living in an island of Greece. He is very interested in natural health and alternative active life style and owner of an information site about Aromatherapy and Essential Oils where you can read about Essential Oils and Hydrosols.
Aromatherapy Schools and Training
Many of our customers are interested in furthering their education in using essential oils. A greater knowledge of essential oil use will allow one to effectively utilize the more medicinal aspects of aromatherapy, as is done around much of the rest of the world. In France, for example, doctors will prescribe essential oils and blends for particular illnesses - these prescriptions will then be filled by licenced essential oil pharmacists. In the United States, we're only just beginning to touch on the healing properties of aromatherapy - finally getting beyond just 'smelling nice'.
Some schools are home-study, where others include on-site and hands-on training. Your choice really depends on your commitment and goals. Becoming a full-time professional aromatherapist with paying clients may take a little more effort. Though there is no official aromatherapist 'licensure' in the States, one can, at some schools, receive an internationally recognized Masters degree. You may strongly consider a school that has passed muster with the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy
- they do asses curriculums to meet a minimum standard of education. Further, massage therapists CAN be licenced, and can utilize one of the primary modalities of aromatherapy (aromatherapy massage) with their clients. Here are a few links to investigate furthering your education with short descriptions from the schools:The Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy
- Directed by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, one of America's leading medical aromatherapists and author of several books on the medical use of aromatherapy. The school offers both correspondence courses, short seminars and a Masters program with international recognition. You can get a taste of Dr. Schnaubelt's views and ideas by reading 'Advanced Aromatherapy' or 'Medical Aromatherapy' (soon to be available on this site - call if you would like a copy - we do have them in stock).Aroma Studio
- Aroma Studio, LLC? is a full service aromatherapy school for professionals. Aroma Studio, LLC? specializes in Home Study Certification, Live Training, Therapeutic Essential Oils & Hydrosols, and Special Events. The program includes Foundation, Advanced, Master, and Teacher Level Training for aromatherapists totaling 300 hours. Aroma Studio was founded in 1999 by Katherine Graf who has over 20 years experience in the aromatherapy field. Katherine is the author of The Business of Aromatherapy: The Insider?s Guide To Success. Kathy is a Provence-trained aromatherapist who teaches European, Ayurvedic, Five Element, and other creative blending techniques.Aromahead Aromatherapy Certification Program
- The Aromatherapy Certification Program offers an extensive training program in Aromatherapy. The course runs 15 days in total, taught in 3 five day segments. Offered in Sarasota, Florida and Ithaca N.Y. Covers NAHA Levels 1 and 2...The course involves a practical and intensive approach to medicinal blending, with a focus on the chemistry and energetics of essential oils. Includes all supplies for in class blending, and a 180 page manual. CEU's for Florida Massage Therapists, and currently applying for National Massage Therapy CEU's. Instructor, Andrea Butje, owned the Finger Lakes School of Massage in N.Y. and has been teaching classes in the therapeutic uses of essential oils for 8 years.Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy
- Aromatherapy Basic Practitioner Course is a very detailed 200 hour course for self-study with over 500 pages of text and complete back up documentation. The Practitioner Module (optional 100 hours) includes case studies and a publishable research paper. Geared towards professional medical health care providers, the course is also easily assimilated by business owners, student beginners or the lay-person who simply desires a better quality of life. This course is considered the most well-referenced, wide-ranging, comprehensive and detailed course available, and stands alone in the marketplace. NCBTMB, 100 CEU?s for massage therapists.; NAHA (Level I & II ). Practitioner Module: (Optional 100 hours) Setting up a practice and clinic. Consultation and treatment program design. The basics of business development Legal business and ethical issues (Students must submit a publishable research paper and ten case histories)
1 Student must complete a 20-25 page research paper of REAL research, (a clinical trial), that is publishable in medical journals. 2 Student must complete a minimum of 10 case histories.The Healing Touch Spiritual Ministry
program offers two tracks: One leads to a certificate of completion as a healing practitioner (integrating energy healing and aromatherapy) and the other track leads to certification in aromatherapy. This is a NAHA approved 240 hour course of study (Level 1 and 2) that includes three courses, required reading, homework packets, a research project and written exams. Contacts hours are awarded to nurses, massage therapists and chaplains. Courses include hands-on energy treatments, anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, introduction to botany, toxicity and safety, vibrational frequencies, professional issues, description of 55 oils for physical, emotional and spiritual clearing. This program is a holistic approach to the study of essential oil therapy and prepares students to take the ARC exam. Contact hours are approved by the National Certification.
Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy
- The Certificate Program in Integrative Aromatherapy is a comprehensive correspondence course for health professionals and non-professionals. You will be personally mentored by author and Holistic Nurse Aromatherapist, Valerie Cooksley. The certification is fully endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Association, The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and NAHA (Level I and II). 325 CEU?s for nurses and massage therapists.NW College for Herbal and Aromatic Studies
- The school provides a wide array of comprehensive aromatherapy training programs including: Foundations, Advanced, Masters, and independent training modules, e.g. Aromatic Applications for the skin, Aromas and the Mind, Aromatic chemistry by and for the Aromatherapist and healthcare practitioner, Dynamic blending and Aromatic Reflexology. All programs are available via distance learning or live classes. Live classes are offered in Seattle, WA, Baltimore, MD, St. Louis, MO, Raleigh/Durham, NC, and Tucson, AZ.Ohio Academy of Holistic Health -
The Aromatherapy Certification Program is a comprehensive 303 hour vocational program that includes core requirements in applicable general education, as well as Basic and Advanced Aromatherapy to prepare the graduate for professional practice. All aspects of aromatherapy are covered, as well as legal and ethical office operations, and includes on-site clinical training, off-site clinicals at a medical facility, as well as supervised and critiqued sessions with mentors. This holistically-oriented program at our accredited school will prepare the learner for a fulfilling career in the growing field of Aromatherapy. OnlineCE.com
, a division of OnlineContinuingEd, LLC is a leading provider of distance based continuing education programs. Start your Aromatherapy studies with our Aromatherapy Level 1: Fundamentals of Aromatherapy, a 40 hour course offered entirely online. You can then continue your studies with Aromatherapy Level 2: Professional Aromatherapy Certification, a 160 hour course which is completed by distanced based learning using our online format, but you also communicate by email/fax with a personal tutor. OnlineContinuingEd, LLC is an approved NCBTMB provider for Massage Therapy, the Board of Certification for Athletic Trainers, and our HandCredits division is an approved provider of AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association).Parkland College
is a community college that has been ?building better lives and stronger minds for 40 years? located in Champaign, Illinois. Parkland offers Aromatherapy: Basic Principles, which focuses on the basic properties of essential oils, history, safety and therapeutic uses . Aromatherapy: Advanced Principles, focuses on the knowledge and skills used in professional aromatherapy including identification of essential oils, safety, actions, methods of use and clinical assessments. Certification is offered after successful completion of both courses (250 hours) and a written exam. Classes receive college credit. Parkland also has a Massage Therapy Program which offers an introduction to aromatherapy.Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy
- Associate Diploma in Clinical Aromatherapy (384 hours) combined classroom and in home study; including aromatherapy massage and Swiss Reflex Therapy, essays and case studies. The ADCA course is accredited by IFPA and IAM, and endorsed by the IFA, NAHA (Level I & II) and AIA. The Anatomy & Physiology course is 150 hours combined classroom and home study. Both the courses are offered as Distance Learning Courses with the full support of a tutor. Our curriculum is consistently updated as new research becomes available. PPA offers a variety of post-graduate courses for those seeking continuing education. Our programs are favorably structured for the lay person or professional who desires to integrate aromatherapy into their own practice.RJ Buckle and Associates
Dr Jane Buckle?Clinical Aromatherapy for licensed health professionals?not open to the lay public. Taught course (250 CEUs) - 4 classroom weekends plus student-work comprising 33 case-studies plus small mentored research project. Successful completion leads to CCAP (Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner). Program endorsed by AHNA. CEUs through AACN and NCBTMB. $375. Home-study available for aromatherapists interested in exploring Clinical Aromatherapy. Can lead to Certificate in Clinical Aromatherapy. Two CDs plus mentoring $750.The 'M' Technique®. method of touch suitable for the critically ill, very fragile or novice massage giver. Video/DVD (4.5 CEUs) $45. Certification course (14 CEUs) Two days plus case-studies. $375. Available in the USA.The Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies
- Offers 40-hour "Aromatherapy Essentials" Continuing Education course to massage and bodywork professionals and non-professionals. Home study course. Level One. Approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).
This is a short roundup of available aromatherapy education - searching the Internet can provide you with an even greater selection. Here's to furthering your knowledge of Aromatherapy!
Treating Skin and Nail Fungal Infections with Essential Oils
Fungal infection of the nails is the one of the most difficult of all disorders to cure. Both fingernails and toenails may be affected, although toenail fungal infection is the most common type. There are a number of oral medications that have been promoted as effective cures, and, indeed, many of these medications eradicate nail fungus. However, all of these medications have the potential of causing significant toxicity, including liver damage. Oil of oregano aids in the cure primarily through topical application, although internal consumption may be necessary however, this must be under the direction of a professional health care provider. The oil has a deep penetrating power, which aids in the destruction of nail fungus, since this fungus infects the root of the nail bed as well as the surface. Regarding essential oils, oil of oregano?s ability to destroy nail fungus is unmatched. Rub oil of oregano liberally into involved nails as often as possible. Be sure to reduce sugar intake. (Ed. note: unhealthy microbes feed on simple sugars - reducing intake of sugar eliminates their 'food source'.)
Fungal infection of the skin & nails is one of the most difficult of all disorders to cure. Tea Tree and Oregano essential oils aids in eradicating primarily through topical application. These oils have a deep penetrating power, which aids in the destruction of nail fungus, since this fungus infects the root of the nail bed as well as the surface. These oils are included in our Healthy Nail Blend along with 5 other powerful essential oils.
In the book, "The Cure is in the Cupboard: How to Use Oregano for Better Health" Dr. Cass Ingram, says: ?The feet harbor a variety of microbes. In fact, they are one of the most commonly infected external sites on the body. Circulation in this area is poor, and this leads to sluggish local immunity. A variety of microbes may find residence in the skin of the feet, particularly between the toes, where moisture is retained. Foul odor is a dependable sign of poor health of the feet, as is the development of scaling or athlete?s foot. (Ed. note: Palmarosa essential oil is an extremely effective oil for athletes foot - create a 5% dilution in any carrier oil and apply several times daily; results are usually seen in less than 24 hours.)
Problem toenails may readily become infected, particularly by fungi, although bacteria, such as Pseudomonas, may also infect them. Toenail infections are difficult to eradicate, because the infection beings deep within the nail bed, and the delivery of medicine to this region is difficult.
It is a little known fact that poor health of the feet affects the health of the entire body. Thus, for optimal health the feet must be kept clean and free of infection. Wash the feet often and be sure to keep the toenails well manicured. Clean any debris that might accumulate about the toenails or between the toes. Rub oil of oregano once or twice daily over the nail beds, the soles and between the toes. Don?t neglect the health of the feet; your body will pay a price as a result."
Children usually fail to attend to good hygiene and their hand washing technique is usually poor, if they wash at all. The fingernails are one of the dirtiest regions of children, microbially. The underside of the nails often contain a reservoir of microbes, especially if the nails are long. It is well known that parasitic infections in children are spread by poor hygiene; and entire day care center can become infected from one carrier. The hands are the main mode of transmission, but it is the underside of the fingernails that house the parasitic cysts and eggs. In particular, parasites tend to reside under the nails, and from there they readily reintroduced into the body. The fingernails must be kept neatly trimmed. Wash the edges of the nail beds with a soap and oil of oregano solution. If this is done regularly, the incidence of infectious disease in children will be curbed dramatically.
Be sure to educate children regarding the importance of hand washing. Oil of oregano and/or Tea Tree essential oil helps reduce the risk for contracting microbial infections. they can be used both on the body and on inanimate objects. It may be added to soaps and body washes. They are a universal antiseptic, and there is no limit to the versatility of its uses. Infections spread like wildfires in public establishments, especially schools. Instruct children to use the oils during hand washing to prevent the transmission of infection from child to child and also to prevent it from arriving at home.
Fortunately, we can lower the risk of infection by paying scrupulous attention to personal hygiene. Infection is often caused by the foreign bodies (germs) which enter our body through the mouth, nose, eyes, and fingernails, as well as through cuts in our skin. Good hygiene won't prevent cuts, but it can eliminate many of the germs that are lurking around our eyes, mouth, nose, and fingernails.
Judy Tovey has been involved in essential oil education for 5 years and is an Essential Secrets Consultant. For more information about Healthy Nail Blend go to http://antiagingchoices.com/Aromatherapy/healthy_nail.htm
Also see our article: Essential Oils for Common Skin Ailments
Essential Oils For Common Skin Ailments
Pure therapeutic grade essential oils used in aromatherapy have been successfully used by many natural wellness healers in treating a variety of common skin disorders. Essential oils provide a wonderful alternative healing modality, free from side effects of many pharmaceutical preparations. Because of their safety, efficacy, and ease-of-use, essential oils are particularly suited to skin care - and not just for supporting already healthy skin, but for addressing troublesome conditions including eczema, psoriasis, shingles, herpes simplex and warts. And one's skin will smell so wonderful while healing, too!
Skin disorders are often expressions of an overall imbalance of health and wellness. Addressing one's overall health while using essential oils for treatment is of utmost importance for permanent healing. Often, poor skin health can be the result of a weakened immune system, a buildup of toxins in the body, or a nutrient deficiency. This is not to say essential oils will not support the healing process - they most certainly can - particularly while one is addressing any underlying causes which may take a bit of time. Essential oils act as powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory agents, and are very compatible with the skin's cellular structure. In many instances, they may bring speedy relief to an otherwise uncomfortable condition.
Now for some aroma-therapeutic recommendations found throughout the aromatherapy literature. A very common skin condition supported by essential oil use is Eczema. Eczema is distinguished by dry, itchy inflamed areas of skin. Food allergies may be an underlying cause, particularly from wheat and dairy products - sufferers should further investigate their body's tolerance to these foods. For healing with essential oils, the following combinations are recommended: For dry eczema, use twenty drops each of Lavender angustifolia
in a base of one-half ounce of Tamanu oil and one ounce Rosehip seed oil
. Lavender angustifolia essential oil is pleasantly anti-inflammatory and gently regenerative, while Palmarosa essential oil is an anti-bacterial known for it's lovely aroma. Tamanu nut and Rosehip Seed oils (these are not 'essential oils' but cold-pressed 'nut' or 'seed' oils) are greatly healing to the skin. For weeping eczema, use ten drops each of either Lemon Eucalyptus (Citradora) essential oil or Cajeput essential oil, plus ten drops of Thyme CT thujanol in the same base oils as above. Either of these blends can be applied 3-4 times daily.
The symptoms of Psoriasis are distinguished by red scaly skin areas; this is a result of new skin building up faster than the old skin is exfoliating. The condition can be improved through nutritional means by adding omega-3 essential fatty acids to the diet through hempseed, flaxseed, or cold-water fish oils. To use essential oils for topical relief and healing, try nine drops of German 'Blue' Chamomile
, four drops of Helichrysum Italicum
(aka Everlasting oil) and two drops Rosemary CT Verbenone in one ounce of a base of 3/4oz Hazelnut oil and 1/4oz Rosehip Seed oil. German Chamomile is a well-known anti-inflammatory (it is the 'Blue' that's the anti-inflammatory component), Helichrysum is very pleasant smelling and regenerative, while Rosemary of the Verbenone
chemotype is known as an aromatherapy specialty oil which improves the skin's metabolic functions.
Herpes Zoster, commonly known as 'Shingles', is caused by a variety of the Herpes virus. While total remission is difficult, strengthening one's immune system and keeping stress at bay are important to prevent outbreaks. Many have found this essential oil to be of great help: Blend Ravensara, a strong anti-viral essential oil, with Tamanu nut base in a 1:1 ratio and apply frequently. Additional pain associated with the outbreaks can be helped with Roman Chamomile essential oil
or hydrosol. The Herpes Simplex varieties causing painful outbreaks in the genital or oral areas can be treated with one of several essential anti-viral essential oils. Melissa essential oil
has shown significant promise in university studies, with the oil applied directly to the affected areas. Hyssop var. decumbens
has been noted by America's leading medical aromatherapist as a wonder for these outbreaks as well. Either oil may be diluted to 10% in a carrier such as Hazelnut or Rosehip seed if the essential oil is too intense.
Warts are actually the result of a viral infection of one of the many strains of human papillomavirus family. Warts may be treated with a single drop of essential oil daily using Oregano
, Thyme CT thujanol, Tea Tree
, or Hyssop essential oils. Frankincense essential oil
is noted for warts that do not seem to be responding to other treatments; this oil may be a good if the infection is on a sensitive area as it not known to be a strong irritant.