Gold allergy in North America

Am J Contact Dermat. 2001 Mar;12(1):3-5.


Objective: To determine the prevalence of allergic reactions to gold among patients tested by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) from 1996 to 1998.

Methods: This is a prospective analysis of patch test results from the 12 centers that comprise the NACDG. Gold was tested as gold sodium thiosulfate (0.5% in petrolatum [pet]), along with 49 other screening allergens, in patients presenting with possible contact dermatitis.

Results: Of 4,101 patients tested, 388 (9.5%) had a positive patch test result to gold. Women accounted for 62.8% of the subjects tested and 90.2% of patients positive to gold (P < .0001). The most common sites of dermatitis in gold-allergic patients were the hands (29.6%), face (19.3%), and eyelids (7.5%). Nickel and cobalt allergies, respectively, also were present in 33.5% and 18.3% of gold allergic individuals, as compared with 14.2% and 9.0% of the total population. Gold was the only positive reaction in 15.2% of the 388 patients.

Conclusion: Gold is a more common allergen than previously reported and might cause facial and eyelid dermatitis. Hypersensitivity to gold is statistically linked to female gender and to allergic reactions to nickel and cobalt.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / pathology
  • Facial Dermatoses / chemically induced
  • Facial Dermatoses / pathology
  • Female
  • Gold / adverse effects*
  • Gold Sodium Thiosulfate / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patch Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Societies, Medical
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Allergens
  • Gold
  • Gold Sodium Thiosulfate