An overview of parabens and allergic contact dermatitis

Skin Therapy Lett. 2013 Jul-Aug;18(5):5-7.


Esters of p-hydroxybenzoic acid (parabens) are the most widely used preservatives in cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and industrial products. However, since the 1960s, controversy has surrounded its use and safety as a potential cause of allergic contact dermatitis. Despite the cloud of suspicion that has hovered over parabens ever since, these ubiquitous compounds have withstood four decades of extensive skin testing conducted by a variety of organizations, both North American and European, and now, it seems parabens have shown to be one of the least sensitizing preservatives in commercial use. Of the very limited reports of paraben-induced allergic contact dermatitis, these cases are often attributable to the application of parabens on damaged skin.

MeSH terms

  • Cosmetics / adverse effects
  • Cosmetics / chemistry
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Parabens / adverse effects*
  • Parabens / chemistry
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / adverse effects*
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical / chemistry
  • Skin / pathology
  • Toxicity Tests


  • Cosmetics
  • Parabens
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Preservatives, Pharmaceutical