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Immediate Systemic Hypersensitivity Reaction Associated with Topical Application of Australian Tea Tree Oil

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Australian tea tree oil has been used as a veterinary antiseptic for many years and, more recently, has been extended into human use. There have been many reports of allergic contact dermatitis and toxicity reactions, but it has never been implicated in immediate systemic hypersensitivity reactions. A 38-year-old man experienced immediate flushing, pruritus, throat constriction, and lightheadedness after topical application of tea tree oil. Our purpose was to determine whether this represented an immunoglobulin E (IgE)-mediated reaction. Skin-prick and intradermal testing was performed, as well as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for specific IgG and IgE against tea tree oil. The patient had a positive wheal and flare reaction on intradermal testing with tea tree oil. All five patient controls were negative on skin testing. No specific IgG or IgE was detected. We present the first reported case of an immediate systemic hypersensitivity reaction occurring after topical application of Australian tea tree oil, confirmed by positive wheal and flare reaction on skin testing.
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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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  • Allergy and Asthma Proceedings is a peer reviewed publication dedicated to distributing timely scientific research regarding advancements in the knowledge and practice of allergy, asthma and immunology. Its primary readership consists of allergists and pulmonologists.

    The goal of the Proceedings is to publish articles with a predominantly clinical focus which directly impact quality of care for patients with allergic disease and asthma.

    Featured topics include asthma, rhinitis, sinusitis, food allergies, allergic skin diseases, diagnostic techniques, allergens, and treatment modalities. Published material includes peer-reviewed original research, clinical trials and review articles.

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    The journal is indexed in Thomson Reuters Web of Science and Science Citation Index Expanded, plus the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.
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