Article of Interest: Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Essential Oils

essential oils skin

Our team at the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external article:

“Allergic Contact Dermatitis to Essential Oils,” from DermNet NZ.

Allergic contact dermatitis to essential oils is a form of dermatitis (eczema) that develops as a result of a delayed hypersensitivity reaction when essential oils contact the skin.
A number of essential oils are known to be allergenic.

The DermNet NZ article cites tea tree oil, ylang-ylang oil, lemongrass oil, sandalwood oil, clove oil, jasmine absolute oil, and narcissus absolute oil as essential oils that commonly cause allergic contact dermatitis.

Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio, cited her team’s recent study on chemical sensitivity.

Using portable monitoring devices and through visual inspection, the team looks for chemicals, mold, allergens and other environmental factors in homes.
Using portable monitoring devices and through visual inspection, the Hoffman TILT Program team looks for chemicals, mold, allergens and other environmental factors in homes during house call assessments.

“We recently completed a study of 37 individuals from our clinic suffering from multiple chemical, food and drug intolerances. We tested the air inside their homes twice during a one-year period for mold, pesticides, formaldehyde, moth balls, and a host of common ‘volatile organic chemicals’ including many fragrances. Findings varied, however, every home had myriad cleaning supplies, laundry, and personal care products containing fragrances which we we were able to confirm with air sampling inside the homes. Only those patients who were able to eliminate fragrances from their homes experienced improvement.”

“In recent decades, fragrances and aroma therapy, fragranced disinfectants, reed diffusers and many other fragranced products have been widely promoted.

Chemicals, toxins and fragrances under sink identified via house call assessments by the Hoffman TILT Program
Chemicals, toxins and fragrances under sink identified via house call assessments by the Hoffman TILT Program.

“However, most doctors—many of whom use and wear fragrances themselves—are unaware of their importance as triggers of patients’ headaches, memory and concentration difficulties, irritability, fatigue, and various symptoms involving the skin, digestive tract and airways.”

“In our survey of 10,000 US adults, we found that one in five suffers from chemical intolerances. From a medical perspective, sensitive patients who are ill and need surgery, dialysis, chemotherapy, are in labor, or undergoing any evaluation or procedure need to be able to obtain medical care without having to inhale fragrances sprayed in restrooms, present in cleaning chemicals, worn by caregivers or released by FEDs (automated fragrance-emitting devices).”

“Repeated or chronic exposures to many different ‘xenobiotics’ (foreign substances) including mold and surgical implants can initiate an illness process referred to as Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance or TILT. TILT appears to involve xenobiotic sensitization of ancient, long overlooked mast cells which are our immune systems’ first responders. Mast cells are present in our tissues and vessels exposed to the external environment. When provoked, they can release thousands of molecules (mediators) including histamine and other inflammatory mediators.”

How chemically sensitive are you?

Answer these three questions from the Hoffman TILT Program’s Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!

Learn more about the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio’s and its recent studies:

You can also learn more at Dr. Anne Steinemann’s website.

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