Imagine waking up to a horrible skin problem and not knowing what could have triggered it.

This was what happened to medical doctor Dr. Samuel, who has almost 224,000 followers on TikTok. He noticed red, irritated rashes under his eye area when he woke up one morning.

Candle rashes

Credits: @skingapore/TikTok

He, like most of us, assumed that his skincare was the problem and stopped using most items in his routine, particularly reactive ones like retinol.

Instead, he switched to a simple routine of soothing moisturiser and non-irritating mineral sunscreen.

He followed this pared down regimen for three weeks, but the rashes persisted, which means something else must still be triggering it.

By studying the changes he’s introduced to his lifestyle recently, it finally dawned on him: he’d started burning scented candles after he moved into his new apartment.

candle rashes 3

Credits: pvproductions/Freepik

How does scented candles cause rashes?

Photo from DepositphotosSkin irritations from a scented candle, such as rashes, are more common than you might think. According to Dr. Agren, founder and president of AllergyEasy, one out of every five people report reacting to candles with allergy symptoms.

Most of us avoid using fragranced products on our skin, especially if we have sensitive skin. However, even if not in direct contact, fragrance from our environment, like Dr. Samuel and his new bougie candles, can cause allergic contact dermatitis.

This is especially true for candles, which are made of a variety of synthetic scents containing hundreds of different chemicals, making them even more irritating for people with sensitive skin.

Rashes around the eyes are also common because they are the thinnest and most sensitive part of our skin.

Solution for candle-lovers

scented candles can cause rashes 2

Photo from Depositphotos

If candles are causing you skin problems but you still want to enjoy the ambience they provide, consider scentless and flameless LED candles. These will reduce the risk of allergic contact dermatitis caused by scented candles and candle soot.

Beeswax and soy candles with natural cotton wicks, while more expensive, are also better options because they are free of many chemicals found in standard paraffin candles, which produce smoke similar to inhaling fumes from a car engine.

If you know you have sensitive skin, especially to fragrances, addressing the underlying cause is the best option for you and your skin. This means to stop using candles or, as Dr. Samuel put it, “burning your money away”!

What happened to Dr. Samuel in the end?

In case you’re wondering, after Dr. Samuel stopped burning scented candles in his house, the rashes went down significantly.

Here’s how it looked after three days – phew!

candle rashes

Credits: @skingapore/TikTok

View his full TikTok here:


I finally had my own place to burn candles and this happened … Asian Mums “I told you already … don’t waste money”. #skingapore #learnontiktok #learningisfun #gpsamuel #doctorsoftiktok #tiktokdoctor #familymedicine #sgdoctor #tiktoksg🇸🇬 #sgtiktok #tiktokusa🇺🇸 #usa🇺🇸 #selfcare #mentalhealthawareness #eczema #contactdermatitis #candles #asianmom #fragrance #allergy #allergiccontactdermatitis #contactdermatitis #atopicdermatits #fragrances #jomalone #lelabo #scentedcandle #scentedcandles All products are self purchased not endorsing and not advertising. Candle is now purely for display purposes. #publichealth #sensitiveskin #skincaretips #skincare #sgskincare #familymedicine👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 #familymedicinedoctor #dermatology #faceskin #eyelid #rash Will not happen to everyone, but if you have sensitive skin – this maybe a source of irritation that your nose may have caused you to inadvertently overlook. #singlish

♬ original sound – GP Samuel – GP Samuel