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Contact Dermatitis to Essential Oils


Purpose of Review

Use of essential oils (EOs) has become popular due to consumer demand for natural products. Despite the widespread perception that natural ingredients are safe, allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is a well-described complication of EO use. This article provides a comprehensive overview regarding allergenicity, prevalence of positive patch test reactions, and sources of exposure associated with EOs.

Recent Findings

Approximately 80 different EOs have been implicated in contact allergy. Patch testing EOs is important for identifying sensitivity not detected by screening fragrance allergens. Clinical presentation depends on the specific EO and method of use.


EOs are complex substances of highly variable composition which may cause ACD. Due to popularity and widespread use, clinicians should ask patients about EO use. Patch testing is an important tool in the diagnosis and management of contact allergy to EOs.

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    Buonomo, M., Warshaw, E. Contact Dermatitis to Essential Oils. Curr Derm Rep (2021).

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    • Contact dermatitis
    • Essential oils
    • Patch testing
    • Contact allergy
    • Fragrance