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In Denmark apparently an ointment containing balsam of Peru in petrolatum is a common household remedy for cuts and burns. The author therefore undertook first to study the role of the balsam in chronic eczema and soon found himself in ramifications which led finally to an enormous detailed study, probably the most complete ever made of this product and its role in sensitization reactions. Out of 7,500 cases of eczema studied 230 exhibited positive reactions to patch tests with 25% balsam of Peru. The allergens are assumed to be polymers of esters of coniferyl alcohol with benzoic and cinnamic acids. Testing with related aromatic compounds such as scented soaps, orange peel, vanilla, cinnamon, etc., revealed a significant amount of cross sensitization. The implications are apparent—though balsams are no longer employed to any extent by the cosmetic industry in this country.
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Rattner H. Eczematous Allergy to Balsams: Allied Perfumes and Flavouring Agents with Special Reference to Balsam of Peru. Arch Dermatol. 1962;85(1):161–162. doi:10.1001/archderm.1962.01590010167027
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