Long-term repetitive sodium lauryl sulfate-induced irritation of the skin: an in vivo study

Contact Dermatitis. 2005 Nov;53(5):278-84. doi: 10.1111/j.0105-1873.2005.00703.x.


Skin may adapt to topical irritants through accommodation. This study focuses on long-term exposure to irritants and attempts to demonstrate accommodation. Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) induced irritant contact dermatitis at 3 concentrations (0.025% to 0.075%). Distilled water, acetone and an empty chamber served as controls. Experimental compounds were applied to forearms of 7 healthy volunteers for 24 hr before replacing by a fresh chamber for 6 non-consecutive weeks over 103 days. Possible accommodation was quantified by visual scoring (erythema and dryness) and by bioengineering parameters: transepidermal water loss (TEWL), capacitance, chromametry and laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF). Significant erythema, dryness, elevated TEWL, skin colour reflectance and LDF values occurred during the exposure periods. Upon repeat exposure, an immediate and augmented response in erythema, TEWL, skin colour reflectance and LDF developed. However, irritant skin changes were not sustained. Irritation parameters return to baseline after cessation of exposure. There was no evidence of sustained irritation or accommodation after the last exposure. Study findings do not document sustained accommodation or adaptive hyposensitivity after long-term repetitive irritant exposure under these test conditions. Alternative models should be developed to prove or disprove the accommodation hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Irritant / physiopathology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena / drug effects
  • Skin Tests
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate / adverse effects*
  • Surface-Active Agents / adverse effects*
  • Time Factors
  • Water Loss, Insensible / drug effects


  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate