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Scent threat to skin

Tuesday October 12th, 2010

People with eczema may be affected by the scent of household and skincare products, Swedish researchers have revealed.

A new study says that fragrances react with oxygen to become potent causes of allergy.

The finding suggests that many people with severe skin reactions may benefit from living in a scent-free environment.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, tested some 3,400 patients with eczema and concluded that a high proportion showed reactions to fragrances.

The researchers are now using detailed laboratory studies to examine how allergic substances react with enzymes in the skin.

Professor Ann-Therese Karlberg said: "In a bid to gain a deeper understanding of how contact allergy occurs, we are now using state-of-the-art microscopic equipment to follow what happens to an allergen once it gets into the skin."

The findings are to be reported to a dermatology conference in Gothenburg.

A second piece of research, from the same university, will set out to explain how sunscreens can cause allergic reactions - through a process called photo-contact allergy.

Many sun creams break down in the presence of sun-light meaning the skin is exposed to a range of chemicals. The aim of the research is to help develop products that do not cause allergic reactions.

Researcher Isabella Karlsson said: "We wanted to look at what can happen to the chemical sun protection agents when exposed to UV rays, and how the degradation products that form affect the skin.

"Arylglyoxales, one of the degradation products, turned out to be highly allergenic - which could explain why some people are allergic to creams that contain dibenzoylmethanes, one of the UVA-absorbing substances in sun creams."

Tags: Allergies & Asthma | Child Health | Dermatology | Europe

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