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Report claims fragrance allergies as common culprit in skin conditions

By Michelle Yeomans , 26-Feb-2013
Last updated the 26-Feb-2013 at 17:08 GMT

A recent report by health advocacy group ‘Women’s Voices for the Earth’ is claiming that "secret chemicals" used in fragrances in personal care products are causing allergic reactions and sensitivity to US consumers.

'Secret Scents: How Hidden Fragrance Allergens Harm Public Health' features the Group stating that fragrance in personal care products is one of the most frequently identified allergens and that consumers need to know what chemicals are used in scented products “so we can make informed choices to protect our health."

According to director of science and research for Women’s Voices for the Earth, Alexandra Scranton; “Every day too many women suffer from reactions to the secret chemicals used in fragrances in their household products.”

The report estimates that because of lack of disclosure of fragrance ingredients, dermatologists face an uphill battle in identifying what is causing a patient's reactions, making it difficult for the patient to avoid the allergen in question.

It further notes that most common cosmetics associated with fragrance allergy are deodorants, perfumes and lotions, with the most common allergens being geraniol and eugenol, which give off rose and clove-like scents.

The advocacy group did include however that; "Although most companies including fragrances in their products do not reveal allergens in the U.S., they do disclose the presence of 26 common fragrance allergens for their products sold in the European Union."

'Women more susceptible then men'

The report also indicated that women, who are more likely to use more perfumed personal care products and cosmetics, are 200-300 percent more likely to have fragrance allergies than men.

"They are two times more likely to report adverse symptoms from exposure to fragrance. The disproportionate impact on women is likely due to women’s considerably greater exposure to fragranced products throughout their lives.”

To see a full version of that report please see here .

FDA regulation

By law, personal care products ingredients must be listed on a label but there are a few exceptions to the labeling requirements.

Fragrance formulas are considered trade secrets and so the ingredients in fragrances are not required to be revealed. Therefore the word 'fragrance' must be put on any product that has ingredients added to give the product an odor, but may represent many ingredients.

The FDA specifically bans about ten chemicals from use in cosmetics and fragrances. Since 'unscented' and 'fragrance free' have no legal definition, these words can be used any way the company chooses. It is up to the consumer to be informed.

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