Fragrance in personal care and household products causes eczema

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden found that 5–7% of 3,000 eczema patients patch tested positive to the air-oxidised form of the fragrance ingredient linalool which is found in 60-80% of common, perfumed hygiene products, washing up liquids and household cleaning agents.

Around one person in five in Sweden has some form of contact
allergy, most commonly to nickel and cobalt but this research shows that oxidised linalool occupies third place in the list.

Linalool is a fragrance ingredient found naturally in lavender, mint and other plants; it breaks down when it comes into contact with oxygen, becomes oxidised and can cause allergy.

Manufacturers include substances in the products to delay this oxidation, but allergenic substances can still be formed from linalool when it is stored.

EU legislation states that manufacturers must specify on the labels of hygiene products whether they contain linalool. Previous studies showed that oxidised linalool may cause contact allergy in 1% of patients with eczema.

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June 2009

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