Nickel-elicited systemic contact dermatitis from a peripheral intravenous catheter

Contact Dermatitis. 2005 Oct;53(4):222-5. doi: 10.1111/j.0105-1873.2005.00689.x.


Nickel-elicited systemic contact dermatitis is a well-known entity, although it is far less common than allergic contact dermatitis. In most of the cases, the main way of nickel administration is oral. Clinical manifestations are miscellaneous including pompholyx, diffuse exanthema, flexural dermatitis or baboon syndrome. Systemic nickel dermatitis induced by venous catheters is very uncommon, but it is probably underdiagnosed. We report here 2 patients with diffuse recurrent maculopapular rash corresponding to nickel-elicited systemic contact dermatitis. They were both perfused during the last episode with the assistance of a peripheral polyurethane venous catheter during or just before the cutaneous eruption. At the base of the catheter, there was a small metallic eyelet on which dimethylglyoxime test was positive, indicating a release of nickel. Then, we measured nickel release in normal use conditions and found high nickel levels, although the manufacturer denied that nickel could be released. This diagnosis is important to know because such exanthema often occurred during postoperative or postpartum period. Its frequency is probably underestimated because it is often considered as a cutaneous drug reaction. To our knowledge, only 2 cases have been reported in the literature.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / adverse effects*
  • Catheterization, Peripheral / instrumentation*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Equipment Design
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nickel / adverse effects*
  • Patch Tests
  • Polyurethanes
  • Trace Elements / adverse effects*


  • Polyurethanes
  • Trace Elements
  • Nickel