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February 1946

LEMON GRASS OIL: A Primary Irritant and Sensitizing Agent

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology and Syphilology, New York University College of Medicine and the Dermatologic Service of the Third (New York University) Medical Division, Bellevue Hospital, service of Dr. Frank C. Combes, and from the Department of Dermatology and Syphilology, Sydenham Hospital, service of Dr. H. Victor Mendelsohn.

Arch Derm Syphilol. 1946;53(2):94-98. doi:10.1001/archderm.1946.01510310018002

IN a previous communication,1 I reported an outbreak of an acute eruption resembling poison ivy dermatitis in approximately 30 men, presumably due to lemon grass oil. Eight of the affected persons were observed by me.

These men had worked as machinists, carpenters and riggers on a boat which had recently arrived from India. Part of the cargo consisted of tanks of lemon grass oil, some of which had spilled and evidently had found its way to different parts of the boat. The eruption appeared six to eighteen days after the men had worked on the boat.

The diagnosis was based on the history and clinical appearance of the eruption and on a strongly positive reaction (erythematovesicular and vesiculobullous) to a patch test with pine wood soiled with lemon grass oil. I was unable to obtain a sample of lemon grass oil for use in patch tests.


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