PEPPERMINT (Mentha piperita) is a popular herb that can be used in numerous forms (ie, oil, leaf, leaf extract, and leaf water). Peppermint oil has the most uses, and use data on the oil are considered relevant to the leaf extract formulations as well. This herbal preparation is used in cosmeceuticals, personal hygiene products, foods, and pharmaceutical products for both its flavoring and fragrance properties. Peppermint oil possesses a fresh sharp menthol odor and a pungent taste followed by a cooling sensation. It also has a variety of therapeutic properties and is used in aromatherapy, bath preparations, mouthwashes, toothpastes, and topical preparations. Topical preparations of peppermint oil have been used to calm pruritus and relieve irritation and inflammation. Their frequent application to impaired skin could contribute to the sensitization rates seen. Numerous allergic contact dermatitis reactions to peppermint oil have been described, many of which are linked to both perioral and intraoral disorders. Although peppermint oil is known for its many properties, its role as a sensitizer should be recognized so as to aid in the diagnosis of both dermatitis and oral conditions and to allow the initiation of proper avoidance measures.
From the Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Dermatology, University of California, San Diego-Rady Children's Hospital, San Diego, CA.
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