Indian Journal of Dermatology
: 2014  |  Volume : 59  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 200--201

Ylang-ylang oil not an uncommon sensitizer in India

PK Srivastava1, AK Bajaj2,  
1 Mansi Skin and Allergy Clinic, Allahabad, India
2 Bajaj Skin Clinic, Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
P K Srivastava
Mansi Skin and Allergy Clinic, Allahabad

How to cite this article:
Srivastava P K, Bajaj A K. Ylang-ylang oil not an uncommon sensitizer in India.Indian J Dermatol 2014;59:200-201

How to cite this URL:
Srivastava P K, Bajaj A K. Ylang-ylang oil not an uncommon sensitizer in India. Indian J Dermatol [serial online] 2014 [cited 2020 Jul 8 ];59:200-201
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Full Text


Ylang-ylang oil is an essential oil extracted from the flower of Cananga odorata and has an excellent and fascinating fragrance. It was first discovered to be a common cosmetic sensitizer in 1971. [1] There have been reports of increased incidence of contact sensitivity from ylang-ylang oil in the years of 70-80 of the last century but there are no reports from the Indian literature. We hereby report a series of five cases allergic to ylang-ylang oil.

A 30-year-old female presented with the complaints of diffuse brownish black pigmentation on the face and the side of the neck for the last 2 years. Initially the pigmentation was reddish brown, which gradually turned to brownish black. She had no other complaint except the facial hyperpigmentation which was progressing gradually. Patch test with Indian Standard series, sun screen, fragrance series from Chemotechnique Diagnostics Sweden was done and positivity was observed with fragrance mix, Isoeugenol, Oakmos absolute and ylang-ylang oil (YYO) [Figure 1] and [Figure 2] and [Figure 3].{Figure 1}{Figure 2}{Figure 3}

Second patient a 40-year-old housewife presented with the similar complaints, she was also patch tested with the same series and positive reactions were found with Balsam Peru, Para Phenylenediamine (PPDA), Colophony and ylang-ylang oil.

Third patient was presented with malar erythema. Patch test revealed positivity with PPDA, colophony, Geranium oil bourbon, ylang-ylang oil and lavender absolute.

Another 28-year-old female housewife presented with facial erythema for the last 18 months with a history of applying aromatic oil off and on to relieve headache. Patch test of this patient revealed allergy to fragrance mix, balsam Peru, ylang-ylang oil and Isoeugenol.

One more female patient gave the history of application of aromatic oil to relieve headache and developed erythema on cheek after 1-1.5 years of its use, later on patch tested and found to be allergic to ylang-ylang oil, Cananga odorata and fragrance mix 1 and 2 (FM1 and 2).

All these patients were also tested with their own material but only one patient showed positive reaction with aromatic oil on Repeated Open Application Test (ROAT).

Ylang-ylang oil is an essential oil extracted from the fragrant yellow flowers of the tree Cananga odorata growing in Southern India, Java, Philippines and in many islands of tropical countries. [2] Its excellent fascinating fragrance is obtained through steam distillation of flowers and separated into different grades which contain several allergens including main sensitizer dihydro di-isoeugenol (DDIE). [3] It is used in aroma therapy, to relieve high blood pressure, normalizes sebum secretion and is considered to be an aphrodisiac. First discovered to be a cosmetic sensitizer in 1971 [1] and not an uncommon component of many cosmetics, fragrances and perfumes. Most of them are stay on product leading to contact sensitization in susceptible individuals following repeated exposure over a long period of time. Contact hypersensitivity and pigmented contact dermatitis have been reported from Japan by Nakayama et al. [4]

Toyada et al., claimed that the elimination of DDIE from the ylang-ylang oil resulted in reduced incidence of contact hypersensitivity. [3] In another study of 32 patients known patch test reactivity to fragrance mix, 2 patients showed positive reaction to 2% aqua extract of Cananga odoratum (plant containing ylang-ylang oil). [5]

Thin layer chromatography of commonly advertised aromatic oils in India and ylang-ylang oil as a control showed that some of the components of aromatic oils had similar Rf (relative front) to the components of ylang-ylang oil which confirms its presence in these oils.

Ylang-ylang oil does not seem to be an uncommon sensitizer in Indian set up as supported by positive reactions in 5 out of 43 patients of facial melanosis and dermatitis. It might be a component of various creams and aromatic oils and may be contributing to spurt of cases of facial melanosis/dermatitis.


1Sugawara M, Nakayama H, Watanabe S. Contact hypersensitivity to Ylang Ylang oil. Contact Dermatitis 1990;23:248-9.
2Benezara C, Ducombs G, Sell Y, Foussereau J. Plant contact dermatitis. Ontario: Marcel Decker Inc.; 1985. p. 88-9.
3Toyada T, Watanabe S, Kawasaki M, Nakayama H, Sugawara M. Dihydroisoeugenol found in Ylang Ylang oil. Skin Res 1989;31:35-43.
4Nakayama H, Harada R, Toda M. Pigmented contact dermatitis. Int J Dermatol 1976;15:673.
5Roesyanto-Mahadi ID, Geursen-Reitsma AM, van Joost T, van den Akker T. Sensitation to fragrance materials in Indonesian cosmetics. Contact Dermatitis 1990;22:212-7.