Allergic airborne contact dermatitis from essential oils used in aromatherapy

Clin Exp Dermatol. 1995 Mar;20(2):143-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2230.1995.tb02719.x.


Contact allergy to various essential oils used in aromatherapy was demonstrated on patch testing in a 53-year-old patient suffering from relapsing eczema resistant to therapy on various uncovered parts of the skin, in particular the scalp, neck and hands. Sensitization was due to previous exposure to lavender, jasmine and rosewood. Laurel, eucalyptus and pomerance also produced positive tests, although there was no hint of previous exposure. A diagnosis of allergic airborne contact dermatitis was thus established. On topical and systemic glucocorticoid treatment (peroral methylprednisolone at an initial dose of 60 mg/day) the skin lesions eventually resolved. Due to persistence of the volatile essential oils in the patient's home after a year-long use of aroma lamps, complete renewal of the interior of the patient's flat was considered essential. Due to changing self-medication habits, with increasing orientation to 'natural' modes of treatment, increasing numbers of such sensitizations might be on the horizon.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants
  • Complementary Therapies
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oils, Volatile / adverse effects*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Patch Tests


  • Air Pollutants
  • Oils, Volatile