Over recent years, allergic contact dermatitis in children has repeatedly been reported as a significant clinical problem. It is generally accepted that allergic contact dermatitis is rare in the first years of life, and with increasing age (by the age of 10 years) reaches the incidence seen in adults. As in adults, metals are one of the most common sensitizers in children, along with rubber chemicals and fragrances. The influence of fashion trends and lifestyle such as piercing, decorative skin paintings, the hype of natural remedies and cosmetics (e.g. tea tree oil) or the use of cosmetical products with fragrances or herbal ingredients play an important role in developing allergic contact dermatitis. This review aims to give an overview on allergic contact dermatitis in childhood by focussing on strategies for prevention, potential risk factors and recommendations for parents as well as for physicians. By reporting typical cases of our outpatients clinic we point out several characteristics of allergic contact dermatitis. Prevention of allergic contact dermatitis in children is a current problem of interdisciplinary concern not only for dermatologists and paediatricians, but also for midwives. Frequently, children are already exposed at an early age to well-known allergens, and therefore, strategies of avoidance have to gain or regain importance and should start as early as possible.
Copyright John Libbey Eurotext 2003.