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Year : 1994  |  Volume : 60  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 292-293

Contact dermatitis to sandalwood

Correspondence Address:
Ramji Gupta

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A 80-year-old priest developed itchy, erythematous, scaly and fissured area on the centre of his forehead, palmar aspect of right hand fingers and medial half of left palm. These were suspected to be contact dermatitis due to sandalwood paste he was using on these areas. Patch test with sandalwood paste was positive. All the lesions cleared in 10 days after stopping application of sandalwood paste and topical application of betamethasone valerate cream and recurred in 2 days when the application of paste was restarted.

How to cite this article:
Gupta R, Arora S. Contact dermatitis to sandalwood. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1994;60:292-3

How to cite this URL:
Gupta R, Arora S. Contact dermatitis to sandalwood. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 1994 [cited 2021 Jan 24];60:292-3. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Sandalwood (Santalum album Linn) is commonly used for manufacturing decorative pieces, and various gift articles. Sandalwood oil, is very frequently incorporated into perfumes, soaps and talcum powders. In addition, pieces of wood moistened with water are grounded on a stone to prepare a paste which is applied on the forehead and the other parts of the body as a ritual. Thus the individual has ample opportunities to come in contact with sandalwood and develop hypersensitivity to it. However contact dermatitis to sandalwood is hardly mentioned in the literature. [1],[2] We report a case having contact dermatitis on his forehead, medial half of left palm and palmer aspect of right hand fingers proved to be due to sandalwood paste.

  Case Report Top

A 80-year-old priest was seen with itchy, erythematous, scaly and fissured areas on the centre of forehead [Figure - 1], distal part of the palmer aspect of his right hand's fingers and medial half of his left palm of 2 1/2 months duration. Patient used to apply sandalwood paste on the centre of his forehead by the right fingers after putting it first on the medial side of left palm since many years. Scraping from the palm and fingers in 10% KOH solution showed no dermatophytic mycelia. The application of sandalwood paste was stopped and betamethasone valerate 0.12% topically was started which led to the clearance of all the lesions during the next 10 days. Patch tests with sandalwood paste, shaving from sandalwood twig, flower petals used during worship and scraping of the stone used to prepare the paste showed positive reaction to standalwood paste only. After 10 days patient restarted applying sandalwood paste on his forehead again by his right finger after putting the paste on his medial half of left palm. Within 2 days, he developed recurrence of itching, erythema and scaling on all the previous sites. The application of sandalwood paste was again stopped. The lesions cleared in 5 days with topical application of betamethasone valerate o.12%.

  Comments Top

Positive patch test with sandalwood paste the recurrence of the lesions on all sites after restart of application of sandalwood paste confirm that the dermatitis was due to Sandalwood. Pasricha and Ramam [1] recorded a similar type of case where a 64-year-old priest was using sandalwood paste on his forehead as a ritual and on his hands and feet as a remedy on the areas. In their case patient showed positive reactiong to sandalwood paste as well as from the sandalwood twig. Similarly Sharma et al [2] has also reported one case. The case of photocontact dermatitis reported by Starke [3] due to commercial sandalwood oil in an aftershave lotion, showed positive reaction with geranium oil while there was no reaction with sandalwood oil. Thus the photocontact dermatitis was not due to sandalwaood oil.

  References Top

1.Pasricha J S, Ramam M. Contact dermatitis due to sandalwood (Santalum Album Linn.). Ind J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1986; 52: 232-233.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Sharma R, Bajaj A K, Singh K G. Sandalwood dermatitis. Int J Dermatol 1987; 26: 557.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Starke J C. Photoallergy to sandalwood oil. Arch Dermatol 1987; 96: 62-3.  Back to cited text no. 3    


[Figure - 1]


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