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J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Nov;47(5):709-14.

Oxidized citrus oil (R-limonene): a frequent skin sensitizer in Europe.

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  • 1Occupational Dermatology, National Institute for Working Life, Stockholm, Sweden.



Peel oil from citrus fruits consists of R-(+)-limonene, which is one of the most commonly used fragrance materials in technical products and in fine fragrances. This substance forms allergenic oxidation products during handling and storage.


We wanted to study the frequency of allergic reactions to oxidized R-(+)-limonene in patients with dermatitis and find a suitable test preparation.


Patch testing with oxidized R-(+)-limonene was performed on 2273 patients at 4 dermatology clinics in Europe.


Of the consecutive patients tested, 3.8% to 3.9% had positive reactions in two of the clinics; 6.5% had positive reactions in the third clinic; and 0.3% had positive reactions in the fourth clinic. A total of 63 patients showed positive reactions. In total, 57% of the patients did not react to fragrance mix or balsam of Peru. We recommend testing with 3% oxidized R-(+)-limonene in patients referred for patch testing.


The high frequency of oxidized limonene allergy provides clinical evidence for the European classification of R-(+)-limonene that contains oxidation products as skin sensitizers.

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