How does ylang-ylang oil cause allergic contact dermatitis?

Updated: Jun 10, 2021
  • Author: Glen H Crawford, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Ylang-ylang oil is extracted from the flowers of the Cananga odorata tree and belongs to the Annonaceae family of plants. The Annonaceae family consists of 2050 species and 125 genera, most of which are found in the tropics. The C odorata tree is native to the Malay Archipelago and is now grown in southern India, Java, the Philippines, and many other islands in the Pacific primarily for the soap and perfume industry. [18]

Fragrance materials are among the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis. The ylang-ylang oil contains several allergens, including isoeugenol—the main sensitizer—and derivatives of geraniol and linalool. Ylang-ylang sensitivity can result in occupational contact dermatitis, especially among manicurists, hairdressers, aromatherapists, and individuals in the cosmetic manufacturing industry. Most of the reported cases have described hand dermatitis resulting from products containing ylang-ylang oil. Given the heightened popularity of herbal and botanical products in the United States and abroad, it is important that dermatologists recognize the potential for ylang-ylang oil allergy in patients with exposures to cosmetic or aromatherapy products containing ylang-ylang oil.

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