Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Early Recognition and Diagnosis of Important Allergens

Sharon E. Jacob; Tace Steele


Dermatology Nursing. 2006;18(5):443-439, plus 4. 

In This Article


Fragrance perfumes and flavoring agents are found in foods, soaps, shaving cream, shampoos, and even unscented products. Unscented products may contain a masking fragrance, which blocks unwanted scents. Fragrance free, on the other hand, refers to the absence of ingredients added to enhance or eliminate a scent. Currently, there are thousands of available fragrances for industrial use from perfumes to sanitation (Hogan, 2005). Individuals with fragrance allergies might only have an allergy to one specific fragrance, but unfortunately the companies do not have to list what specific fragrance is in their product, they can just list "fragrance." Fragrances commonly present as a reaction to deodorant (Johansen et al., 1998). Massage therapists, geriatric nurses, and glass makers are at a higher risk for exposure to fragrances (Uter, Schnuch, Geier, Pfahlberg, & Gefeller, 2001).

Balsam of Peru is a composite tree sap resin used as a fragrance, a flavoring, and a therapeutic agent. Although the product is only a weak antibiotic, many companies have found reasons to add it to hemorrhoid creams and other topical medications. Balsam of Peru is almost ubiquitous in our man-made environment. It is found in tobacco, perfume, chocolate, cola, spices, vermouth, and even some dentistry cements. Beyond where it is actually found, Balsam of Peru can cross react with numerous food products such as tomato products, including pizza sauce and ketchup (Salam & Fowler, 2003).


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