Capsaicin is the spice component of red pepper. It can be easily inhaled, inducing a reproducible cough and provokes a secretory response from the human nasal mucosa. To date, there has been no report of occupational rhinitis (OR) caused by capsaicin. We report the case of a 44-year-old female mill worker who developed occupational rhinitis after 4 years of exposure to capsaicin. She developed nasal congestion, rhinorrhea, and itchy nose, which were all aggravated upon exposure at the workplace. The patient had negative responses to all common inhalant allergens, including capsaicin, by skin prick tests. The nasal provocation test with capsaicin showed that the nasal symptom score and eosinophil count increased 10 minutes after the provocation and decreased after 1 to 3 hours; no significant response was noted to house dust mite allergen. The patient's work-related rhinitis improved 1 month after she relocated and started pharmacological treatment. To our knowledge, this is the first case of OR caused by capsaicin exposure in the workplace. We provide evidence suggesting that OR may be mediated by a non-immunological mechanism.
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