Few things are worse than finding yourself unprepared during an emergency/first aid situation.
Even when it’s just something small—a scraped knee at a playground, a twisted ankle during a sports game, or a cut or burned finger in the kitchen—finding yourself unprepared can spike your stress levels and risk making the situation worse.
It’s not just a matter of having first aid materials (although that certainly is important. We highly recommend investing in a high quality first-aid kit). It’s knowing how to use those materials, how to stay calm, and how to really help and comfort others that makes a difference in a first-aid situation.
If you’re prepared and handle the situation well, the situation may resolve into a “minor incident” that eventually becomes a funny story or even a bonding memory for all involved!
However, if you are unprepared, the situation could spiral, injuries may worsen from lack of proper treatment, and the memory of the incident may become a source of stress and regret for months or years to come.
Thankfully, it just takes a little time, effort, and education to be prepared for first-aid situations.
Your essential oils and iTOVi Scanner can help if you know when and how to use them to support basic first-aid procedures.
Let’s tackle common first-aid situations one by one so you’ll know exactly what to do when the time arises!
Ah! Blood! A nick with a razor, a vegetable-cutting incident, a scraped knee, whatever it is, stay calm and analyze the damage. There are three degrees of wounds:
A pricked finger, a small cut, or scrape. This is the most minor of injuries. The blood is bright red and though it may flow out at first, it will quickly slow to a trickle, and then stop within just a couple minutes. Apply pressure and a bandage/band-aid. Also, a kiss for the boo-boo might not go amiss.
You got a vein! The blood should be darker than normal, oozing out slowly but steadily. Grab something to press to the wound, preferably some gauze or a clean cloth. It may take several minutes for the bleeding to stop, so don’t let up the pressure! If, after 10 minutes, the bleeding hasn’t stopped, apply pressure over a wider area. And if the bleeding doesn’t stop, there is a lot of bleeding, or the person loses consciousness, call 911.
If the wound has broken an artery (often a deep wound or a wound at one of the joints), the blood will be bright red and come out in spurts. Call 911 immediately. Apply pressure to the wound and apply a tourniquet if you can.
Other situations to call 911:
- If there is an embedded object in the wound
- If the wound exposes the bone
- If the wound involved the eyes or abdomen
- If the wound is in the chest or neck causing difficulty breathing
- If the wounded person shows signs of shock (see below)
- If the injury was caused by a motor vehicle accident
How can essential oils help with wounds?
Well, in the case of any cut or wound the first priority is to stop the bleeding, so focus on that first. Once the bleeding has stopped and the healing process has begun, then your oils may come in handy to:
- Fight potential infection
- Decrease pain and inflammation
- Promote faster healing
Which oils should you use?
Well, most of your essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties and many have analgesic and wound healing properties. Based on scientific research and historical precedent, our top recommendations would be tea tree oil, myrrh oil, helichrysum oil, and lavender oil.
Apply your diluted oils (2% max dilution on adults) to the site of the injury two to three times a day or whenever you change the bandage.
Yowch! Burns can be nasty! And, once again, there are three different degrees of burns:
Only the first layer of the skin was affected. It looks pink, a little raised, and a little swollen.
To treat, remove any clothing or jewelry near the burn. Put the burned skin under cool, running water for 10 minutes. Use a cool compress if no running water is available, but don’t use ice. After letting it dry, apply a petroleum-based ointment and a bandage. Apply ointment regularly enough that the burn site doesn’t get too dry.
This burn is much like a first-degree burn, but now there are blisters and probably even more pain and swelling. Also, the burned skin may take on a darker tone and leak moisture.
To treat, follow the same protocol as for first-degree burns, though you may choose to let the burn sit under running water for up to 30 minutes. Do not pop the blisters (see the section on blisters below). Try to elevate the burn above heart level if you can. Change the dressing at least once a day. For a second-degree burn, you may want some pain medication as well.
Call 911 if the burn is too large (more than 3 inches in diameter) OR is in a particularly sensitive place (mouth, eyes, genitals, hands, or feet). Treat for shock (see section on shock below) if necessary.
Much more severe. The burned skin has charred, turning black or white in places.
Call 911 immediately. Do not remove clothing around the burn or put any water on it. Loosely cover with sterile cloth or bandages and raise above heart level.
How can essential oils help with burns?
Never apply essential oils to a fresh burn or to a burn that is worse than the first-degree. They can be helpful in relieving pain and reducing inflammation during the healing phase, but they can make infection and tenderness worse if applied too early.
Which oils should you use?
Again, many essential oils have useful properties for burns, but the most highly recommended are lavender, chamomile, frankincense, eucalyptus, helichrysum, and peppermint.
Once the burn is definitely in the “healing” stage, your best option is to dilute your oils (no more than 2% for adults) into a moisturizing agent like jojoba oil or aloe vera, applying this mixture to the skin a couple of times a day.
Sprain or Strain
Sprains can hurt quite a bit in the moment. But the real kicker is how long that pain lingers.
Whether it was a twisted ankle at a soccer game, a wrist muscle strain from moving boxes, or maybe a rough landing jumping off playground equipment, it can take a while for your body to heal from a sprain. Once again there are 3 degrees:
Basic, or first-degree, sprains can continue a small degree of pain, swelling, and tenderness for anywhere from a few minutes to a few weeks after the initial incident! There shouldn’t be any bruising, joint instability, or difficulty bearing weight though.
To treat, use R.I.C.E.
- Rest: Go easy on the sprained muscle for several days. Don’t try to get “back in the game” too soon.
- Ice. Try to get a little cold (ice packs or ice slush) on the muscle for 15-20 minutes every couple of hours or so during the day.
- Compression. If there is significant swelling, try wrapping (not too tightly) a compression bandage onto the site, starting your wrapping from the point farthest from the heart.
- Elevation. Try to elevate the sprained body part above your heart. Bonus points if you can arrange your sleeping position so that the sprained body part is above your heart while you sleep.
For second-degree sprains, expect there to be moderate pain. There may also be some bruising, joint instability, weight-bearing problems, and loss of range of motion or function in the afflicted joint.
Treat just the same as a first-degree sprain, just for longer. An immobilization device or splint may also be helpful. If you do not see improvement over the course of several days, consider going to a doctor for an X-ray.
For third-degree sprains, expect intense pain, severe swelling and/or bruising, and an inability to put weight on the joint/use it normally. Go see a doctor for an X-ray as you may need a cast or brace for a few weeks or maybe even surgery.
How can essential oils help with sprains and strains?
Essential oils can help almost immediately when it comes to sprains and strains. Use them in a gentle massage into the afflicted tissue.
Which oils should you use?
Many oils have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and so are great options for a sprained tissue massage. The top-recommended oils are lavender, wintergreen, peppermint, rosemary, and helichrysum.
Just remember to dilute your oils (no more than 2% for adults) before applying topically.
Annoying, painful little skin bubbles! Blisters usually come about due to too much friction on the skin (i.e. inside a shoe where there’s too much sweat and not enough padding). Due to the friction, layers of skin separate and the pus fills up the space in between.
We understand the urge to pop your blisters. But don’t do it. That would be painful, increase the chance of infection, and almost certainly not help with the healing process.
Here’s how to handle blisters:
Small, Unbroken Blisters
Again, do not pop them. Apply an antibiotic ointment or anti-bacterial EO solution. Let it dry then apply a non-stick gauze bandage. Protect the blister from suffering more friction by either changing your activities or perhaps using moleskin or reverse-layered socks. Re-apply the ointment and bandage at least once a day.
Unbroken, Very Painful Blisters
If the blister gets too large or too painful, it may be helpful to carefully drain (not pop, drain it). To do this, put on gloves, disinfect a needle, and then carefully poke tiny holes around the edges of the blister bubble. Let the pus drain out. Then treat it as you would an undrained blister with ointment, bandaging, and reduced friction. Do not yet attempt to remove the top layer of the skin (see below).
Blister, Broken On Its Own
Let it breathe, letting the pus drain out. Do not tear or cut off the top flap of skin. Once the pus is sufficiently out of the way, treat it as you would an undrained blister with ointment, bandaging, and reduced friction.
When can I remove the top flap of skin?
You may remove/cut off the top flap of skin only when it is sufficiently dried out and the skin underneath is adequately healed. Use a disinfected pair of medical scissors to very carefully cut away only the dead/dry skin.
Which essential oils can I use?
We recommend the top disinfecting oils, namely tea tree oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and lemon oil. Dilute well and give the solution a little time to sink in and dry before putting the bandage on top.
Heat Exhaustion/Heat Stroke
If you can’t beat the heat, the heat just might beat you!
Heat exhaustion is a real health threat. And it can work fast, setting in after just a few minutes in a hot-enough environment (i.e. on a hike, the inside of an idle car on a hot day, in a stuffy room, etc). What’s worse, heat exhaustion can escalate into heat stroke if you’re not careful.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke happen when, due to the body getting too hot (and perhaps an internal imbalance of electrolytes) the body’s temperature-regulation mechanisms start to fail.
You’ll recognize heat exhaustion by the flushed pink or red face or cool and clammy skin, intense sweating, weakness, confusion, headache, racing pulse, diarrhea, and/or nausea of the victim. If they’ve crossed the line over to heat stroke, they will turn pale, they may have seizures or lose consciousness.
If the victim loses consciousness, immediately call 911. Before it gets to that point or while you wait for the paramedics to arrive, follow these steps:
- Lie the victim down, in a shady/cool place if possible.
- If the victim is unconscious, be prepared to check their airways, monitor their pulse, or perform CPR if necessary.
- Remove or loosen tight or excessive clothing, especially around the neck, chest, or waist
- Cool them down. Ideas include:
- if conscious, get them to sip cool water
- cover them with cool, damp sheets (replacing them as necessary)
- place ice packs at their neck, armpits, and groin
- Spray their skin down with cool water
- fan them (just make sure you don’t overheat yourself)
- Elevate their feet several inches.
When paramedics arrive they will set the victim up with an IV, help get them to a cooler environment, and treat for any other damage.
Even if the victim’s mind clears, they cool down, and they feel ready to get up, encourage them to take it slow.
Essential oils are likely to only be useful during the recovery phase. Try using cooling oils like peppermint to help the victim reach and maintain a healthy body temperature.
In and of themselves, headaches are more likely to be annoying than anything else. However, a headache at the wrong time could limit your mental capacities and interfere with whatever it is you may be about (from an important work conversation to trying to relax).
There are essentially two types of headaches, primary headaches (often called “migraines”) that happen for their own reasons and secondary headaches which arise as a result of specific bodily causes, such as dehydration, congestion, lack of sleep, etc.
Whatever type of headache you are dealing with, it will probably benefit you to sit down, hopefully in a quiet, cool, place with fresh air. Breathe deeply, try to relax your muscles, and clear your mind. If you know the secondary cause of your headache, attend to it.
In terms of essential oil-support, lavender, peppermint, and basil are the best-researched essential oils for headache/migraine relief. Apply them topically or diffuse them for about 20 minutes at a time.
Infections can range from a small, gross inconvenience to a life-threatening problem.
If a wound that should be healing becomes more swollen, painful, or starts leaking pus, it may be infected. And if you feel sick (respiratory symptoms, fever, aches, chills, painful urination, etc) you may have an internal infection.
Of course, the best thing to do is to stop infections from happening in the first place, by keeping your living space, the air you breathe, and especially any wounds, burns, or potential site of infection clean. Barring that, if an infection has set in, it is in your best interests to stop it from growing and clearing it out of your body as soon as possible.
Many essential oils have antibacterial properties. Some of the top options to consider are tea tree oil, peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and lemon oil. Breathe them in, dilute them for topical application, or (if you are sure of the safety constraints) take them internally (except tea tree oil, never take tea tree oil internally).
If your infection worsens to the point that there is redness spreading out from the wound, increased pain or swelling, or you are having a hard time moving the infected part of your body d, see your doctor.
What is shock? Shock is the gradual shutdown of the body’s vital circulation pathways.
It is especially important to know how to recognize and treat shock as it can have a variety of different causes! And, depending on the cause, different interventions may be necessary. And the further the shock progresses, the more and more unable the victim will be capable of helping themselves!
Shock can start to set in due to an injury, external or internal bleeding, physical or psychological trauma, heatstroke, an allergic reaction, heart problems, loss of bodily fluids, poisoning, infection, and more.
Recognize the beginning of shock with symptoms like a quick pulse and breathing, cold and clammy skin, and sweating. There may also be agitation, anxiety, nausea, or vomiting.
As shock progresses, the body temperature may decrease, skin may turn blue, the victim may lose mental function, and have labored or irregular breathing. Eventually, the victim may lose consciousness.
If the victim is unconscious and unresponsive, you should first call 911, check their pulse, check their airways, and check for injuries. If necessary give them CPR or see to their wounds as best you can (see above) while waiting for the paramedics.
If the victim is conscious or no CPR or wound treatment is necessary/already done, you should:
- Lay the victim down on their back (on a blanket if possible)
- If the victim is pregnant, lean them on their left side.
- Elevate their feet (unless their legs are injured)
- Loosen clothing around their neck, chest, or waist
- Keep them warm with blankets, coats, or other means
- Try to keep them calm
- Monitor their levels of responsiveness, and if they stop responding, check/open their airways and be prepared to administer CPR if necessary.
Here, again, your oils will probably only be useful during the recovery phase. You may favor circulation-promoting oils like clary sage, cypress, and citrus oils to help the victim relax and get their blood flowing properly.
What about my iTOVi Scanner?
Wait until the emergency phase has passed before using your scanner.
Your scanner will typically be most useful during the recovery phase of any first-aid incident. Use personalized scans to help the victim find good products to help them relax, manage their stress, keep inflammation down, and check in with themselves emotionally as they recover.
First-aid situations can be stressful. And time is usually of-the-essence, so it’s good to be prepared! And now you can be!
Make sure to review these basic first-aid procedures every once in a while. It’s easy to forget knowledge you aren’t using on a regular basis. That way, if emergency situations arise you can give the best possible care to yourself and others.