Deodorant: FSA Eligibility
What is deodorant?
Deodorant is a fixture in most men and women's personal hygiene regimens, which helps to eliminate bodily odors caused by the breakdown of bacteria caused by perspiration and also typically contains an antiperspirant to curb the formation of sweat in these areas (Medical News Today). Deodorant has existed in some form dating as far back as ancient Rome and Greece, whose inhabitants used perfumes and aromatic oils to stay fresh, but it wasn't until the late Victorian area that sparked a revolution in cleanliness and hygiene that deodorant became the commercial product we know today.
The first trademarked deodorant was released in 1888, which was dubbed "Mum" and was patented by an unknown inventor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The small company was purchased by Bristol-Meyers in 1931, and deodorant evolved over the successive decades to include antiperspirants like aluminum chloride and others before culminating in the predecessor to modern deodorant, the first roll-on deodorant stick from Ban in 1952. In the early 1960s, the first aerosol deodorant, Right Guard, was released and quickly became one of the most popular personal hygiene products in the U.S. Today, nearly 95 percent of Americans use deodorant in gels, sprays, sticks and powders, which has now grown into a multi-billion dollar industry (Smithsonian Institution).
Why is deodorant not a qualified health expense?
Under IRC 213(d)(1), which regulates the eligibility of medical products and services covered under consumer-directed healthcare accounts, "medical care includes amounts paid for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, or for the purpose of affecting any structure or function of the body." Deodorant does not fall under the classification of a medical product used to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent a legitimate medical condition, but rather it is a product used to promote an individual's "general health" and personal hygiene, therefore it is not eligible for reimbursement.