Copper hypersensitivity

Contact Dermatitis. 2014 Oct;71(4):191-201. doi: 10.1111/cod.12273. Epub 2014 Aug 7.


The world production of copper is steadily increasing. Although humans are widely exposed to copper-containing items on the skin and mucosa, allergic reactions to copper are only infrequently reported. To review the chemistry, biology and accessible data to clarify the implications of copper hypersensitivity, a database search of PubMed was performed with the following terms: copper, dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, contact hypersensitivity, contact sensitization, contact allergy, patch test, dental, IUD, epidemiology, clinical, and experimental. Human exposure to copper is relatively common. As a metal, it possesses many of the same qualities as nickel, which is a known strong sensitizer. Cumulative data on subjects with presumed related symptoms and/or suspected exposure showed that a weighted average of 3.8% had a positive patch test reaction to copper. We conclude that copper is a very weak sensitizer as compared with other metal compounds. However, in a few and selected cases, copper can result in clinically relevant allergic reactions.

Keywords: contact hypersensitivity; copper; dental; dermatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Copper / adverse effects*
  • Copper / chemistry
  • Copper / immunology
  • Cross Reactions
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Humans
  • Ions
  • Nickel / immunology
  • Patch Tests
  • Prevalence


  • Ions
  • Copper
  • Nickel