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Fragrance Allergens, Overview with a Focus on Recent Developments and Understanding of Abiotic and Biotic Activation

Journal article
Authors Johanna Bråred Christensson
Lina Hagvall
Ann-Therese Karlberg
Published in Cosmetics
Volume 3
Issue 2
Pages 19-37
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Dermatology and Venereology
Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Pages 19-37
Language en
Links https://10.3390/cosmetics3020019
Keywords kontaktallergi, haptenkemi, översiktsartikel, contact allergy, fragrance, abiotic and biotic activation, autoxidation, fragrance allergens, prohaptens, patch test
Subject categories Clinical Medicine


Fragrances and fragranced formulated products are ubiquitous in society. Contact allergies to fragrance chemicals are among the most common findings when patch-testing patients with suspected allergic contact dermatitis, as well as in studies of contact allergy in the general population. The routine test materials for diagnosing fragrance allergy consist mainly of established mixes of fragrance compounds and natural extracts. The situation is more complex as several fragrance compounds have been shown to be transformed by activation inside or outside the skin via abiotic and/or biotic activation, thus increasing the risk of sensitization. For these fragrance chemicals, the parent compound is often non-allergenic or a very weak allergen, but potent sensitizers will be formed which can cause contact allergy. This review shows a series of fragrance chemicals with well-documented abiotic and/or biotic activation that are indicative and illustrative examples of the general problem. Other important aspects include new technologies such as ethosomes which may enhance both sensitization and elicitation, the effect on sensitization by the mixtures of fragrances found in commercial products and the effect of antioxidants. A contact allergy to fragrances may severely affect quality of life and many patients have multiple allergies which further impact their situation. Further experimental and clinical research is needed to increase the safety for the consumer.

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