Frequency and main sites of allergic contact dermatitis caused by nail varnish

Dermatitis. 2008 Nov-Dec;19(6):319-22.


Background: Liquid nail varnish has been used since 1919, and allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) has been recognized for at least 80 years, but it is difficult for nonspecialists to identify this condition.

Objectives: (1) To verify the frequency of ACD from nail varnish in patients with a presumptive diagnosis of contact dermatitis seen at an outpatient clinic, (2) to characterize the groups studied according to site of skin disorder, and (3) to determine the main sensitizer related to varnish.

Methods: Patients with a final diagnosis of ACD caused by nail varnish were assessed by means of retrospective analysis of medical charts and protocols used in the clinic from January 1996 to December 2006. Patch tests with the Brazilian standard series and a complementary series were applied to all patients.

Results: Diagnosis of ACD from nail varnish was made in 8% of cases (157 of 1,971). The most affected sites were the face and neck; however, involvement of some uncommon areas, such as periungual and perianal regions, was also observed.

Conclusions: ACD from nail polishes is a common event and recognition of the condition must be improved. Toluenesulfonamide formaldehyde resin (TSFR) was the most common allergen in the group studied.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / epidemiology*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Cosmetics