British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)

Myroxylon pereirae

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 myroxylon pereirae.

What is myroxylon pereirae?

Myroxylon Pereirae is a natural fragrance. It is a mixture of plant chemicals and essential oils which include cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. It is often called Balsam of Peru and comes from a tree in South America (called Myroxylon Pereirae). Myroxylon Pereirae is also antiseptic and found in many over the counter medications.

What are some products that contain myroxylon pereirae?

  • Perfumed cosmetics
  • Toiletries
  • Face and hand creams
  • Medicated creams and ointments
  • Suppositories
  • Cough mixtures and lozenges
  • Eugenol (clove-like odour in dental preparations)
  • Chinese medicaments (Chinese Balm and Tiger Balm).

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 myroxylon pereirae onto your skin in the future.

Myroxylon Pereirae is a natural fragrance. We patch test people with this fragranced tree extract as it helps to detect allergy to natural fragrances and perfumes. Many perfumes and fragranced products contain components similar to Balsam of Peru. Therefore you should also try to avoid products that contain the terms ‘perfume’, ‘parfum’ or ‘aroma’. Check the ingredients list on the packaging before buying and using.

Myroxylon Pereirae is also antiseptic and found in many over the counter medications. Common sources are Sudocrem and a haemorrhoid cream, Anusol.

Some of the chemicals in Myroxylon Pereirae are present in spices such as cinnamon, vanilla and citrus peel, so avoid getting these on your skin when cooking or preparing food for example when baking cinnamon buns. It may also be in cosmetic, household and workplace products.

Myroxylon pereirae and foods

Many food flavourings contain components similar to Myroxylon Pereirae and so can cause reactions. A positive test may indicate allergy to spices such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and nutmeg. Spice allergic patients may have a rash on the hands, or rarely mouth symptoms from eating spicy foods. A small number of people who are allergic to Myroxylon Pereirae may get a widespread rash or flare up of their eczema if they have food or drink containing spices or peels. Fortunately, nearly all patients can eat a full and normal diet.

You should discuss with your dermatologist whether you should try a period of time where you avoid touching or eating:

  • Spices
  • Citrus fruit peel
  • Chewing gum
  • Sweets
  • Cola and cola-like soft drinks
  • Cough mixtures and lozenges
  • Tobacco
  • Eugenol (a clove-like perfume used in dental products)
  • Chinese medicaments (Chinese Balm and Tiger Balm).

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