British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)

Fragrance mix I and II

What are the aims of this patient information leaflet?

This leaflet has been written to help you understand more about your contact allergy. It tells you what a contact allergy is, what causes this allergy and what you can do about it.

What is contact allergy?

Dermatitis, also known as eczema, describes a type of inflammation of the skin. Contact dermatitis or contact eczema is a term used when this inflammation is caused by direct or indirect skin contact with something in your environment. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your immune system causes allergy to a very specific chemical or substance that has been in contact with the skin.

What causes your specific allergy?

Your patch tests indicate that you have a contact allergy to fragrance mix I and II.

What is fragrance mix I and II?

Fragrance may be labelled as parfum, perfume, fragrance or aroma. Fragrances are commonly found in everyday household products and personal care products.

What are some products that contain fragrance mix I and II?

  • Personal products including fine fragrances, perfume, aftershaves, cosmetics, hair products and deodorants, bath oils and shower gels.
  • Sanitary products including moist toilet wipes, sanitary towels and toilet paper
  • Household sources include plug in air fresheners, scented candles, diffusers, bathroom sprays and cleaning products, insect repellents, washing powders, fabric conditioners, ironing sprays
  • Medications including haemorrhoid creams, ointments, creams, barrier creams such as Sudocrem, Flexitol heel balm, Balneum bath oil, Eurax cream and lotion, T Gel shampoo, some Aveeno products and Polytar
  • Work systems including cutting oils and coolants, paints, air conditioning systems, toilet fresheners, hand soaps and barrier creams.

Fragrance mix I is a mixture of 8 individual fragrances:

  • Amyl Cinnamal
  • Cinnamal
  • Cinnamyl alcohol
  • Eugenol
  • Oak moss (Evernia prunastri)
  • Geraniol
  • Hydroxycitronellal
  • Isoeugenol.

Fragrance mix II is a mixture of 6 individual fragrances:

  • Citral
  • Citronellol
  • Farnesol
  • Coumarin
  • Alpha-Hexyl-Cinnamal
  • Hydroxyisohexyl-3-cyclohexene carboxaldehyde (Lyral™).

Other fragrance allergens

There are not in either Fragrance mix I or II but which have to be labelled in cosmetics are:

  • Alpha-isomethyl ionone
  • Amylcinnamyl alcohol
  • Anisyl alcohol
  • Benzyl alcohol
  • Benzyl benzoate
  • Benzyl cinnamate
  • Benzyl salicylate
  • Butylphenyl methylpropional (lilial)
  • Evernia furfuracea (tree moss)
  • Limonene
  • Linalool
  • Methyl 2-octynoate.

Remember, always check the label, these lists can never be complete and ingredients change.

How can I manage my allergy?

This means that you should avoid putting products containing fragrance mix I and II onto your skin in the future.

Allergic reactions may occur when a fragranced product touches the skin or is carried in the air. When carried in the air you could have a reaction affecting your face or eyelids.

‘Fragrance free’ toiletry and cosmetic products are now widely available. Some will contain plant essential oils which by their very nature will contain fragrance chemicals. They may be labelled as having ‘no added fragrance’, ‘unscented’, ‘hypoallergenic’ or ‘organic’. Avoid these plant extracts – often denoted by a Latin botanical name such as ‘pelargoium graveolens’ oil.

Choose fragrance free products as far as possible. Cosmetics used by a partner may be an overlooked source of fragrance. If you have a contact allergy to one fragrance only it is reasonable to avoid this chemical alone. But if you react to two or more fragrances, or if you continue to experience problems with your skin, then it is usually best to avoid all fragrances.

If you wish to wear a fine fragrance/ perfume, you may be able to find one that does not contain the fragrance compound to which you are sensitive. Try a usage test of different fragrances (one at a time). Apply it to a 2cm square, twice a day, for 2 weeks in the same place on your forearm. If there is no reaction then it should be safe to use.

Self-care (what can I do?)

Always check the ingredient listing on the product, package or package insert as these lists can never be complete and ingredients change. This is particularly important for any products purchased outside the EU where some allergens may not be banned.

Created: 2016