Allergic to Lavender? What You Need to Know

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A lavender allergy is a rare allergic reaction to lavender or lavender oil. Lavender oil is an essential oil made from the lavender flower.

If you are allergic to lavender, you may experience allergic contact dermatitis when exposed. Possible symptoms include a rash with redness, swelling, and itching. 

Linalyl acetate is a fragrance chemical used in most forms of lavender essential oil and is known to cause allergic eczema.

This article will provide an overview of lavender allergy, including symptoms, causes, and treatments. 

Lavender-scented essential oils

Svitlana Romadina / Getty Images

Lavender Flower

Lavender is a flower that is often used in aromatherapy oils, as well as in personal and household products. It is a possible cause of allergic contact dermatitis. 

One study found that when 2,178 individuals were tested for a lavender allergy, 49 reacted. This meant that 2.2% had a positive patch test and were considered allergic to lavender.

Symptoms

Possible symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis include:

  • Rash
  • Redness
  • Swelling 
  • Itching 

Causes

An allergic reaction is caused by an overreaction of the body’s immune system. The most common cause of a lavender allergy is personal care products as this oil is often used in soaps, shampoos, and lotions.

Two of the main components of lavender oil are linalool and linalyl acetate. These substances have been found to cause allergic contact dermatitis in individuals. 

Linalyl acetate is a fragrance chemical that is found in lavender oil. It has been linked to an increased risk of allergic contact dermatitis. 

Treatment

The best treatment for an allergy is to avoid the allergen. If you have been struggling with contact dermatitis from lavender, consider meeting with your primary care provider, an allergist, or a dermatologist, a medical doctor specializing in skin, hair, and nails. They will conduct a physical exam and may recommend allergy testing. 

Possible treatment options for allergic contact dermatitis include:

  • Cool compress to ease the itching
  • Calamine lotion or colloidal oatmeal baths for open sores
  • Oral prednisone to reduce swelling and redness (prednisone is only used in moderate to severe dermatitis episodes)
  • Phototherapy (treatment using natural or artificial light)

Prevention

An allergic reaction is an overreaction by the immune system. The only way to prevent the reaction is to avoid the trigger. If you are allergic to lavender, you must avoid all lavender flowers or lavender oil sources. 

Because lavender is commonly used in household and personal care products, it is important to use caution with new products. Read the label carefully and only use a small amount the first time. 

Summary

While uncommon, it is possible to experience an allergic reaction to lavender flowers or lavender essential oil. Possible signs of allergic contact dermatitis include a red rash, swelling, and itching. To treat allergic contact dermatitis caused by lavender, consider trying cool compresses, calamine lotion, and colloidal oatmeal baths. See your healthcare provider if home remedies are not successful. The best way to prevent a reaction from a lavender allergy is to avoid the trigger. 

A Word From Verywell

Allergic reactions to lavender are uncommon but possible. Talk with your healthcare provider if you believe you are sensitive or allergic to lavender. It is important to avoid lavender as much as possible to prevent an allergic reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does the lavender plant look like?

    The lavender plant contains long purple flowers attached to very long green stems. The flowers may also appear blue or periwinkle. 

  • How common is a lavender allergy?

    A lavender allergy is rare. Having an allergic reaction to any essential oil is uncommon. Talk with your healthcare provider if you believe you’re sensitive or allergic to lavender. 

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Eczema Association. Hidden fragrance compound in lavender can cause contact allergy.

  2. Bingham LJ, Tam MM, Palmer AM, Cahill JL, Nixon RL. Contact allergy and allergic contact dermatitis caused by lavender: A retrospective study from an Australian clinic. Contact Dermatitis. 2019 Jul;81(1):37-42. doi:10.1111/cod.13247

  3. National Eczema Association. Contact dermatitis.

  4. Hagvall L, Christensson JB. Patch testing with main sensitizers does not detect all cases of contact allergy to oxidized lavender oil. Acta Derm Venereol. 2016 Jun 15;96(5):679-83. doi:10.2340/00015555-2319

  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Eczema types: Contact dermatitis diagnosis and treatment.