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Cleaning and treating open wounds with Essential Oils

As kids, we have all fell down and scraped our knees, as adults we still get ourselves injured from time to time. Some of us dread putting harsh chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide or 99 proof alcohol to clean the wound. Well good to say there are natural ways to clean and disinfect the wound with essential oils.

Essential oils or plant oils have a long history of being used as first aid treatment for wounds and burns, Roman and Greek soldiers used to carry phials of myrrh oil as their "first aid kits" when they were out on a tour of duty. In fact, the modern essential oils/aromatherapy movement was started by a French chemist using essential oils to put out his burning hands and the subsequent healing of his hands.

Essential Oils open wound treatment

1. Essential Oils that can be used as disinfectants.

As they say "When in Rome do as the Romans do" thus we shall follow the Romans and start with myrrh. It is known for its ability to kill airborne germs and bacteria, in addition to aiding the body in stopping the bleeding. Thus, it makes a rather good first disinfectant and wound cleaning essential oil.

The second oil that we will be covering is lavender, it is a gentler oil with the usually anti-bacterial, fungal and viral effects needed to be a disinfectant. But the plus point is that lavender essential oil also has analgesic and smoothing effects which reduce the pain and irritation to the affected area making it great for kids who tend to scratch at their wounds/scabs. Additionally, chamomile oil has similar effects as lavender.

The next oil is Rosemary which has pretty much the same effects as lavender or chamomile but with a stronger and less "kid-friendly" scent, so this could be more suited for adults.

Moving on is Geranium oil, it comes with the usually anti-bacterial, fungal and viral effects but it comes with the added bonus of increasing blood flow to the wound allowing for a quicker healing process. This makes it a great oil to use for the whole cleaning to the healing process.

The following oil is Helichryum which additionally has anti-inflammatory effects which makes it a good choice if your wound swells or has some blue-black bruising.

The 7th oil is Tea Tree oil which was long used by the Australian aborigines as a wound disinfectant, it is known for it's stronger disinfecting properties making it a good oil for cleaning the wounds.

Last but not least is Frankincense which is more known for its skin rejuvenation effects, making it more sensible to use it after scar removal or healing oil after a wound has been cleaned.

2. How to clean a wound with Essential Oils

The first step is to clean a wound if you are using essential oils or more conventional methods is to clean the wound of all foreign items that may harbour bacteria and germs, you could do this with clean water. This allows the essential oils to do their job of disinfecting and cleaning the wound and would allow for a faster healing process afterwards. Additionally, if foreign items are left in the wound it could increase the chance of infection and abnormal scarring.

Step 2 is to dilute your essential oils in a base oil before applying topically to the wound, this is going to sting. Applying the essential oil directly will cause skin irritation and possibly some sort of allergic reaction. 

Step 3, if your wound is unlikely to come into contact with things that could infect it, it is good to leave it uncovered to allow it to dry and a scab to form as opposed to covering it with a bandage. However, if that is not possible (e.g. wound will constantly rub against your clothes), do cover it with a bandage.    

3. Follow up treatment and cleaning

For wounds that have been covered by a scab (think of the scab as a lid on a food container stopping the flies from getting in), you may choose to switch to an essential oil with more healing properties such as Geranium or Frankincense, as there is no longer a need to disinfect the wound. The same rule of diluting the essential oil with a base oil applies. 

For those who have covered their wounds with a bandage, please change the bandages at least once a day and apply the diluted essential oil blend with disinfecting proprieties when you change your bandages as your wound still has a chance of being infected before a scab is formed. Once a scab has formed, you do not need to use bandages anymore and you can switch to the healing properties diluted essential oil blend.

The last step is for scar removal or reduction, for all those who want to look macho please skip to the conclusion. All wounds leave scars, but that does not have to be the way. Some essential oils like Frankincense are known to rejuvenate the skin and help with the removing of scars. Apply a diluted essential oil blend to the scar tissue periodically in order to remove scars.

4. Conclusion 

If your wound is deep or big enough that it is beyond self-treatment, it comes without saying but you should seek professional medical attention immediately. The use of essential oils in the cleaning and treating of wounds is for minor wounds or follow-up cleaning, but if your injury is severe enough for you to bleed profusely, essential oils shouldn't be your first choice of medication as they may have disinfecting and healing properties but they are not a miracle cure in times of medical crisis.