British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)


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 linalool.

What is linalool?

Linalool is a naturally-occurring fragrance and is found in many plant-based substances including more than 200 natural oils. Linalool has a floral smell.

What are some products that contain linalool?

  • Almost all prestige perfumes
  • Most deodorants
  • Many household products
  • Natural oils such as lavender oil (lavandula angustifolia), rosewood oil, cinnamon oil, coriander oil, ylang-ylang oil, orange and lemon zest, bergamot oil, basil oil, jasmine oil, laurel oil (bay), geranium (pelargonium graveolens) oil and so on.

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 linalool onto your skin in the future.

Linalool itself does not often cause reactions. You may find that you can tolerate some products containing linalool, if they are new or recently-opened, when the linalool has not yet been exposed to air. Exposure to air causes linalool to change and it may then trigger an allergic reaction. “Older” products containing linalool which have been in the bathroom for several months, especially if the lid is sometimes left off, will be much more likely to cause an allergy.

Labelling of linalool is now compulsory in cosmetics and detergents if it is added in its pure state, but not if added as part of a plant oil. It is present in ‘natural’ and some ‘fragrance-free’ cosmetics, where it will not be labelled.

It is important to also look out for natural oils such as lavender (lavandula angustifolia) and geranium (pelargonium graveolens)

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: 2015