Understanding Fragrance Allergy, Is Fragrance-free Always Necessary?


Fragrances have become ubiquitous in skin and hair care products to appeal to the consumer’s senses. However, fragrances have been associated with allergic contact dermatitis in applications including: unspecified leave-on products, sun tan lotion,1 deodorants,2 scented lotion, unspecified rinse-off products, fine fragrances, shampoo, liquid soap, aftershave, lipstick, sunscreen, hair styling products, shaving foam, mascara, hair dye, eye shadow and makeup cream. An example of typical allergic contact dermatitis of the axilla due to a deodorant fragrance is shown in Figure 1. While some dermatologists recommend avoiding all fragrances yielding positive patch test results, as shown in Figure 2, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid all fragrances and in the end, may be unnecessary for the patch test positive patient.

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