Contact sensitivity to topical antimicrobials. (II). Sensitizing potentials of some topical antimicrobials

Contact Dermatitis. 1989 Sep;21(3):166-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.1989.tb04730.x.


A predictive study comparing the sensitizing potentials of some topical antimicrobials, using a modified Beuhler's technique, showed that over-the-counter (OTC) antimicrobials were more sensitizing than prescribed topical antibiotics. Among OTC antimicrobials, proflavine was the most potent sensitizer (4/10 guinea pigs); parachlorometaxylenol, benzalkonium chloride and propamidine isethionate moderate sensitizers (2/10 guinea pigs); iodine a weak sensitizer (1/10 guinea pigs); and chlorhexidine and cetrimide very weak sensitizers (0/10 guinea pigs). Among prescribed topical antibiotics, neomycin was a moderate sensitizer (2/10 guinea pigs); gentamycin and chloramphenicol weak sensitizers (1/10 guinea pigs); kanamycin, clioquinol, polymyxin B, bacitracin, tetracycline, sodium fusidate and fusidic acid very weak sensitizers (0/10 guinea pigs). There was good correlation between sensitizing potentials in animal studies and clinical experience of contact allergy to these topical antimicrobials.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / immunology*
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / immunology*
  • Antiprotozoal Agents / immunology
  • Chlorhexidine / immunology
  • Dermatitis, Contact / etiology*
  • Drug Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Proflavine / immunology
  • Xylenes / immunology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Xylenes
  • chloroxylenol
  • Proflavine
  • Chlorhexidine