Gas chromatography: An investigative tool in multiple allergies to essential oils

B. Dharmagunawardena*, A. Takwale, K. J. Sanders, S. Cannan, A. Rodger, A. Ilchyshyn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)


Essential or fragrant oils are volatile odourous mixtures of organic chemical compounds that are widely used in aromatherapy and in the perfume industry. Because of their frequent use, allergy to essential oils is being increasingly recognized. We report 2 cases of multiple allergies to essential oils in professional aromatherapists. Gas chromatography/mass spectrometry was used to analyse the oils in order to identify a common allergen responsible for the contact dermatitis. In both the cases, α- and β-pinene were found to be the most common constituent in the oils and thus appeared to be key allergens, α-pinene was confirmed as an allergen on repeat patch testing with pure α-pinene in both cases. 12 controls tested were negative for the same. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was found to be an extremely useful tool that could be utilized in investigating multiple allergies to essential oils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-292
Number of pages5
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • α-pinene
  • Aromatherapy
  • Contact allergy
  • Essential oils
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Occupational


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