Skin contact allergy to emulsifiers

Int J Cosmet Sci. 1988 Feb;10(1):9-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-2494.1988.tb00579.x.


Synopsis Contact allergy to cetyl and stearyl alcohols has been reported for many years. About one per cent of eczema patients are allergic to either alcohol or a mixture of the two. In the present study, 11 of 1374 patients reacted to 20% cetylstearyl alcohol in patch tests. Results of a previous study, suggested that some impurities in commercial cetyl and stearyl alcohols might be responsiblefor the contact allergies. Sorbitan esters are also contact allergens in dermatological preparations. Sorbitan sesquioleate (20% in petrolatum) was patch-tested in 4469 eczema patients in the present study, with a positive result in 25 (0.56%) of them. Widespread dermatitis from moisturizing creams was seen in two patients, one of whom was treated with peroral corticosteroids and the other with a potent corticosteroid cream. Several other emulsifiers have also occasionally been found to cause contact allergy. Popular emulsifiers are thus potential allergens, especially in preparations commonly used as moisturizersfor dry or slightly eczematous skin. Les allergies cutanees aux emulsifiants.