Contact sensitivity to menthol and peppermint in patients with intra-oral symptoms

Contact Dermatitis. 1995 May;32(5):281-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.1995.tb00781.x.


We report 12 cases of contact sensitivity to the flavouring agents menthol and peppermint oil in patients presenting with intra-oral symptoms in association with burning mouth syndrome, recurrent oral ulceration or a lichenoid reaction. The patients were referred from the Glasgow Dental Hospital over a 4-year period for assessment of the possible contribution of contact sensitivity to their complaints. 5 patients with burning mouth syndrome demonstrated contact sensitivity to menthol and/or peppermint, with 1 patient sensitive to both agents, 3 positive to menthol only and 1 to peppermint only. 4 cases with recurrent intra-oral ulceration were sensitive to both menthol and peppermint. 3 patients with an oral lichenoid reaction were positive to menthol on patch testing, with 2 also sensitive to peppermint. 9 of the 12 cases demonstrated additional positive patch test results. After a mean follow-up of 32.7 months (range 9-48 months), of the 9 patients that could be contacted, 6 patients described clearance or improvement of their symptoms as a consequence of avoidance of menthol/peppermint.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Burning Mouth Syndrome / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Mentha piperita
  • Menthol / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Mouth Diseases / physiopathology
  • Patch Tests
  • Plant Oils / adverse effects*
  • Ulcer / chemically induced


  • Plant Oils
  • Menthol
  • peppermint oil