The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Contact dermatitis from lip balms that contain peppermint oil

    Researchers at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario,  describe 4 patients with allergic contact cheilitis (inflammation of the lip) following exposure to peppermint oil contained in a lip balm product.

    First, the details.

    • Each patient developed inflammation of their lips and the skin around the lips.
    • The lip balm they used contained potential sensitizers such as propolis, lanolin, coconut oil, almond oil, peppermint oil, and vitamin E.
    • They were tested with a patch test for allergens.

    And the results.

    • The patch-test results showed that peppermint oil was the most likely cause of the allergic reaction in these patients.

    The bottom line?

    Peppermint oil is not commonly reported as a cause allergic contact cheilitis. In 1995 researchers from Glasgow Royal Infirmary, in the UK reported a series of patients with contact sensitivity to peppermint.

    “However,” the authors concluded, “with the widespread use of lip balms containing peppermint oil, more cases of peppermint oil-induced allergic contact cheilitis may be expected.”

    MedlinePlus tells us, “Allergic/hypersensitivity reactions may occur from using peppermint… by mouth or on the skin, including throat closing (laryngeal spasm), breathing problems (bronchial constriction/asthma symptoms), or skin rash/hives/contact dermatitis. People with known allergy/hypersensitivity to peppermint leaf or oil should avoid peppermint products.”

    8/5/10 22:04 JR

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