Content and reactivity to product perfumes in fragrance mix positive and negative eczema patients. A study of perfumes used in toiletries and skin-care products

Contact Dermatitis. 1997 Jun;36(6):291-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.1997.tb00003.x.


The aim of the study was to investigate the elicitation potential of perfumes from 17 commonly sold lower-price cosmetic products. 8 of the perfumes were from stay-on cosmetics and 9 were from wash-off cosmetics. Each perfume was tested in 500 consecutive eczema patients, who also were tested with the European standard patch test series. 4.2% reacted to 1 or more of the wash-off product perfumes and 3.2% to 1 or more of the stay-on product perfumes. Concordant positive reactions between the fragrance mix and the product perfumes were found in 81.3% of positive reactions to the stay-on product perfumes and in 52.4% of the reactions to the wash-off product perfumes. Compared to the fragrance mix alone, only 1 additional case of contact allergy to the product perfumes was detected by balsam of Peru. Chemical analysis revealed that between 1 and 5 of the chemically-defined constituents of the fragrance mix were present in all of the product perfumes. Geraniol was found in 12 of the 17 perfumes and was most often detected. The concentration of the target fragrance materials ranged from 0.005%-1.35 w/v%. It is concluded that the allergenic constituents of the fragrance mix are impossible to avoid if perfumed cosmetics are used. Furthermore, patients suspected of perfume allergy need to be tested with their own perfumed products, as far from all cases of perfume allergy are detected by the fragrance mix and/or balsam of Peru in the European standard patch test series.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects
  • Cosmetics / analysis
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / physiopathology
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Eczema / epidemiology*
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patch Tests
  • Perfume / adverse effects*
  • Perfume / chemistry*
  • Skin Care
  • Terpenes / adverse effects
  • Terpenes / analysis


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Cosmetics
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Perfume
  • Terpenes
  • geraniol