Respiratory and cutaneous adverse reactions to mint can result from several different mechanisms including IgE-mediated hypersensitivity, delayed-type hypersensitivity (contact dermatitis), and nonimmunologic histamine release. Reactions to cross-reacting plants of the Labiatae family, such as oregano and thyme, as well as to the chemical turpentine, may clue the clinician in on the diagnosis of mint allergy. Contact dermatitis can result from menthol in peppermint. Contact allergens have been reported in toothpastes, which often are mint-flavored. Allergic asthma from mint is less well-recognized. A case of a 54-year-old woman with dyspnea on exposure to the scent of peppermint is presented in whom mint exposure, as seemingly innocuous as the breath of others who had consumed Tic Tac candies, exacerbated her underlying asthma. This case highlights the importance of testing with multiple alternative measures of specific IgE to mint, including skin testing with mint extract, and skin testing with fresh mint leaves. Additionally, this cases suggests that asthma can result from inhaling the scent of mint and gives consideration to obtaining confirmatory pre- and postexposure pulmonary function data by both impulse oscillometry and spirometry.
Keywords: Allergic asthma, allergy, asthma, contact dermatitis, IgE, mint, mint leaves, peppermint, skin test