Background: Tea tree oil is an essential oil, whose use is increasing in our setting, due both to its supposed medicinal effects and to its aromatic properties. We describe our experience with allergic contact dermatitis following the application of this oil.
Material and methods: Five patients in the last 5 years (0.4% of all the patients studied in specialized consultation) reacted to a 5% concentration of tea tree oil in Vaseline.
Results: All the patients presented strong reactions, and in all cases these were considered relevant. Three of them also reacted to oxidized d-limonene, one of the components of tea tree oil, which is present in our standard series.
Conclusions: Different cases have been described in the literature on allergic contact dermatitis due to tea tree oil, but until recently it was infrequent in our setting. With the increased popularity of alternative and natural therapies we have witnessed several cases of sensitization to this essential oil, which had been used to treat several supposedly "infectious" skin diseases, but which were very probably different forms of dermatitis.