Research links ‘contact dermatitis’ to cosmetic ingredients

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Eczema

Research links ‘contact dermatitis’ to cosmetic ingredients
Spanish scientists at Valencia’s University Hospital have uncovered a link between contact dermatitis and cosmetics. Allergens found to be most responsible were methylisothiazolinone (19 per cent), paraphenylenediamine (15.2 per cent), and fragrance mixtures (7.8 per cent).

We reviewed cases of allergic contact dermatitis to cosmetics diagnosed in our dermatology department over a 7-year period with a view to identifying the allergens responsible, the frequency of occurrence of these allergens, and the cosmetic products implicated,”​ says a department spokesperson.

Contact dermatitis, a condition marked by areas of inflammation (redness, itching and swelling) form after a substance comes into contact with the skin. Preservatives, paraphenylenediamine, and fragrances were the most frequently detected cosmetic allergens in this study.


From the database of the University’s skin allergy department, the team carried out a search of allergic contact dermatitis to cosmetics cases diagnosed in their department over a seven year period whereby patch tests were carried out on 2485 patients.

740 of those patients were diagnosed with allergic contact dermatitis, cosmetics being the cause in 202 of those patients who accounted for 27.3 per cent of all cases. A total of 315 positive results were found for 46 different allergens​.”

In order to detect new cosmetic allergens, the department says cooperation between physicians and cosmetics producers is needed.


Cosmetics Europe, formerly Colipa ensures that the industry provides European customers with products that comply with EU regulation and safety standards.

The directive lays down rules for product and ingredient safety assessment, its annexes include lists of substances that can only be used in specified circumstances and the substances approved for use in cosmetics as colouring agents, preservatives and UV filters.

In regards to allergic reactions, its website states, “Fragrance ingredients listed on cosmetic products have become more detailed in recent years. This has allowed the small number of allergy sufferers who react to fragrance substances to be well informed when choosing their cosmetics​.”

The body stresses that it supports dermatologists seeking to identify the allergens affecting their patients.

Related topics Regulation & Safety

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