Back issues No.2 - 2006 / Original Study  

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Allergens of Contact Allergy to Essential Oils in Taiwan
Meng-Sui Lee Chai-Yu Chu
Dermatol Sinica 24:82-93,2006

Background: Aromatherapy and homecare products that contain essential oils have recently
become popular in Taiwan. However, there is no study that investigates the clinical
presentations and causative allergens of allergic contact dermatitis caused by essential oils.
Objective: To investigate the clinical presentation and allergens associated with contact
dermatitis caused by essential oils in patients presenting to the contact dermatitis clinic in a
tertiary referral center.
Methods: From 1980 to 2004, a total of 3401 (1016 men, 2385 women) patients were
patch-tested at our Contact Dermatitis Clinic. Cases of suspected contact allergy to essential
oils were enrolled and received specific patch tests designed for essential oils. We also
retrospectively reviewed patient records.
Results: Twenty one female patients suspected of having contact allergy to essential oils or
cosmetics with essential oils were patch-tested. Ten of the 21 patients (47.6%) demonstrated
allergy to essential oils. The number of patients with suspected contact allergy to essential oils
has increased significantly since 1999. The most commonly affected profession was
aromatherapist. The most common site of initial involvement was the hand (70%).
Conclusion: These data show an increasing trend in the number of suspected contact allergy to
essential oils from 1999 to 2004. Regulation of essential oils and essential oil-containing
cosmetics, as well as the occupational safety and healthy of aromatherapists, should be
determined to assure maximum safety of consumers and aromatherapists.

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