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Ann Allergy. 1990 Aug;65(2):127-32.

Allergic conjunctivitis to chamomile tea.

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Centro de Alergia e Inmunología Clínica, General Pardiñas, Madrid, Spain.


Eye washing with chamomile tea is a folk remedy used by the general public to treat conjunctivitis and other ocular reactions. Chamomile is also found in many cosmetic products. Some cases of contact dermatitis (but not reactions of type I) were reported following its topical applications. We present seven hay fever patients that suffered from conjunctivitis; two of them also had lid angioedema after eye washing with chamomile tea. All seven patients had positive skin prick tests to the chamomile tea extract, Matricaria chamomilla pollen and Artemisia vulgaris pollen extracts. Positive conjunctival provocations were also observed in all the patients with the chamomile tea extract. In contrast, no symptoms were observed after oral challenges with this infusion. IgE activity against chamomile tea and Matricaria and Artemisia extracts (composite pollens) was detected by ELISA in the seven patients' sera. A cross reactivity among the above extracts was observed by an ELISA inhibition study. In all cases, the IgE activity to chamomile tea could fully be absorbed by Matricaria pollen extract. Skin prick tests and conjunctival provocation tests also performed in 100 hay fever controls revealed a positive immediate skin response to Artemisia in 15 patients, eight of them also to Matricaria pollen and five of them to Chamomile tea as well. Only two of the last patients had a positive conjunctival response. The results were negative in the rest of the controls. We conclude that the chamomile tea eye washing can induce allergic conjunctivitis. Matricaria chamomilla pollens contained in these infusions are the allergens responsible for these reactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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