The optimal patch test concentration for ascaridole as a sensitizing component of tea tree oil

Wietske Andrea Christoffers, Brunhilde Bloemeke, Pieter-Jan Coenraads, Marie-Louise Anna Schuttelaar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Tea tree oil is used as a natural remedy, but is also a popular ingredient in household and cosmetic products. Oxidation of tea tree oil results in degradation products, such as ascaridole, which may cause allergic contact dermatitis.

OBJECTIVES: To identify the optimal patch test concentration for ascaridole, and to investigate the relationship between a positive reaction to ascaridole and a positive reaction to oxidized tea tree oil.

PATIENTS/MATERIALS/METHODS: Three hundred and nineteen patients with eczema were patch tested with ascaridole 1%, 2%, and 5%, and 250 patients were patch tested with oxidized tea tree oil 5%. Readings were performed on D3 and D7 according to a patch test calibration protocol.

RESULTS: With an increasing ascaridole test concentration, the frequency of positive reactions increased: ascaridole 1%, 1.4%; ascaridole 2%, 5.5%; and ascaridole 5%, 7.2%. However, the frequencies of irritant and doubtful reactions also increased, especially for ascaridole 5%. A positive reaction to ascaridole was related to a positive reaction to tea tree oil.

CONCLUSIONS: This study is in support of ascaridole being a sensitizer. We recommend patch testing with ascaridole at 2%. The finding that every positive reaction to oxidized tea tree oil is accompanied by a positive reaction to ascaridole suggests that ascaridole might be a contact allergen in oxidized tea tree oil.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2014


  • allergic contact dermatitis
  • ascaridole
  • Melaleuca alternifolia
  • tea tree oil
  • MG/CM2

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