Allergic contact dermatitis to fragrance: a review

Am J Contact Dermat. 1996 Jun;7(2):65-76.


Background: Allergy to fragrance is the most common cause of cosmetic contact dermatitis and therefore constitutes a significant clinical problem. The widespread use of fragranced materials in skin care and household products is probably the most important reason for the high incidence of fragrance sensitization.

Objective: This report will summarize the history of fragrance, review how to detect and evaluate fragrance allergy, discuss the problems inherent in patch testing with the fragrance mix and its constituents, describe systemic contact dermatitis from ingestion of certain flavors, and give suggestions for fragrance-sensitive patients.

Conclusion: The use of fragrance mix in patch testing has been invaluable in detecting fragrance allergy. Continued investigation into positive patch test responses to fragrance in scented products is essential in helping to identify new fragrance allergens. Additionally, more cooperation is necessary between industry and dermatologists in assisting patients to avoid proven allergens.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / adverse effects
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Patch Tests
  • Perfume / adverse effects*


  • Cosmetics
  • Perfume