Background: Ethylhexylglycerin is a relatively new cosmetic ingredient that is used for its surfactant, emollient, skin-conditioning and antimicrobial properties. Since 2002, it has been occasionally reported as a contact allergen.
Objectives: To report on 13 patients who presented with allergic contact dermatitis caused by ethylhexylglycerin, evaluated at two Belgian university patch test clinics during the period 1990-2015.
Patients and methods: The patients were patch tested with the European baseline series, a cosmetic series, and - if indicated - additional series. Both the cosmetic products used and their single ingredients were patch tested.
Results: All but one of the ethylhexylglycerin-allergic patients were female, with a median age of 43 years (range: 29-81 years), most often suffering from dermatitis on the face, and sometimes on the hands and/or axillae. As the culprit products, leave-on cosmetics were identified, including a high number of proclaimed 'hypo-allergenic' and 'preservative-free' facial creams, sun protection creams, and deodorants.
Conclusions: Ethylhexylglycerin is a rare, but highly relevant, cosmetic sensitizer, even in those products advertised to be safe for consumers. Targeted patch testing with ethylhexylglycerin 5% pet. is very useful, and routine patch testing in a cosmetic series may be considered. Higher test concentrations might be indicated in selected cases.
Keywords: CAS no. 70445-33-9; allergic contact dermatitis; cosmetics; deodorants; ethylhexylglycerin; octoxyglycerin; patch testing; preservative; skin conditioner; sunscreens.
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.