Background Fragrances are considered as one of the most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis. About 1–4% of the general population suffer from fragrance contact allergy (FCA).
Objectives To determine the frequency of FCA and its clinical relevance in a sample of Iranian patients with history of contact and/or atopic dermatitis from January 2004 to December 2008.
Methods Standardized patch testing with 28-allergen screening series recommended by the German Contact Dermatitis Research Group and European Standard Series was used at six dermatological clinics in Iran. Fragrance allergens comprised of fragrance mix I (FM I), Myroxylon pereirae (MP; balsam of Peru), Lyral®, turpentine and FM II.
Results Fragrance contact allergy was detected in 7.2% of the patients. The frequency of positive reactions to FM I, MP and FM II were 3.7% (41/1105), 2.8% (32/1135) and 1.1% (3/267) respectively. 82.4% of the reactions to fragrance allergens were clinically relevant. The most common involved areas were hands (68.4%) and face (35.4%). Fragrance allergy predominantly affected women aged more than 40 years (P = 0.008). Positive reaction to more than two allergens was significantly higher in FCA patients compared with other contact dermatitis patients (P < 0.0001), and FM I, nickel and MP were the most frequent allergens in these patients.
Conclusions Despite less frequency of FCA in comparison with some European countries, its clinical relevance in Iranian patients seems to be high. It mostly affects the hands and the face predominantly in women aged more than 40 years.