Terpenes are widely used fragrance compounds in fine fragrances, but also in domestic and occupational products. Terpenes oxidize easily due to autoxidation on air exposure. Previous studies have shown that limonene, linalool and caryophyllene are not allergenic themselves but readily form allergenic products on air-exposure. This study aimed to determine the frequency and characteristics of allergic reactions to selected oxidized fragrance terpenes other than limonene. In total 1511 consecutive dermatitis patients in 6 European dermatology centres were patch tested with oxidized fragrance terpenes and some oxidation fractions and compounds. Oxidized linalool and its hydroperoxide fraction were found to be common contact allergens. Of the patients tested, 1.3% showed a positive reaction to oxidized linalool and 1.1% to the hydroperoxide fraction. About 0.5% of the patients reacted to oxidized caryophyllene whereas 1 patient reacted to oxidized myrcene. Of the patients reacting to the oxidized terpenes, 58% had fragrance-related contact allergy and/or a positive history for adverse reaction to fragrances. Autoxidation of fragrance terpenes contributes greatly to fragrance allergy, which emphasizes the need of testing with compounds that patients are actually exposed to and not only with the ingredients originally applied in commercial formulations.
Matura, M., Sköld, M., Börje, A., Andersen, K. E., Bruze, M., Frosch, P., … Karlberg, A. T. (2005). Selected oxidized fragrance terpenes are common contact allergens. Contact Dermatitis, 52(6), 320–328. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0105-1873.2005.00605.x