MISSOULA, Mont., Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Allergic reaction and sensitivity to fragrance chemicals in cleaning and personal care products affects millions, a U.S. women's health advocacy group says.
The report, "Secret Scents: How Hidden Fragrance Allergens Harm Public Health," by Women's Voices for the Earth found fragrance in household and personal care products was one of the most frequently identified allergens.
However, since companies are not required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Environmental Protection Agency to disclose fragrance ingredients, it is difficult for dermatologists to pinpoint specific fragrance allergens among the hundreds of ingredients that make up a scent, the report said. Women are 200 percent to 300 percent more likely to have fragrance allergies than men, the report said.
Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research for Women's Voices for the Earth, said fragrance allergy usually manifested itself in the form of red bumps, blisters, itchiness and blotchiness of the skin and frequent exposure to fragrance allergens can lead to chronic dermatitis. Fragrance can also exacerbate asthma.
"Every day too many women suffer from reactions to the secret chemicals used in fragrances in their household products," Scranton said in a statement.
The report noted allergic contact dermatitis, once a rare skin condition, is now quite common among children, and eczema has seen worldwide increases in the last decade.
The most common fragrance allergens found in cosmetic products were geraniol and eugenol, which give off rose and clove-like scents. The most common fragrance allergens in cleaning products are limonene and hexyl cinnamal, which give off orange and floral scents.
Secret Scents found U.S. annual costs to insurance companies and Medicaid for treatment of contact dermatitis and eczema in the totaled $1 billion to $3.8 billion.