Allergic contact dermatitis to topical antibiotics: Epidemiology, responsible allergens, and management

J Am Acad Dermatol. 2008 Jan;58(1):1-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2007.07.050.


Topical antibiotics are widely used to treat cutaneous, ocular, and otic infections. Allergic contact dermatitis to topical antibiotics is a rare but well-documented side effect, especially in at-risk populations. The purpose of this article is to review the epidemiology, responsible allergens, and management of allergic contact dermatitis to topical antibiotics.

Learning objective: After completing this learning activity, participants should be able to describe the epidemiology of allergic contact dermatitis related to topical antibiotics; show knowledge of the most common allergenic topical antibiotics; and understand the allergenic cross-reactivity pattern amongst topical antibiotics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Age Distribution
  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / epidemiology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Distribution


  • Allergens
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents