Allergic contact dermatitis caused by dexpanthenol-Probably a frequent allergen

Contact Dermatitis. 2018 Nov;79(5):276-280. doi: 10.1111/cod.13054. Epub 2018 Jul 16.


Background: Panthenol (synonym: dexpanthenol), the alcohol analogue of panthothenic acid, is frequently included in moisturizers, wound-healing agents, and other cosmetics, and has been shown to be responsible for allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).

Objectives: To evaluate the frequency of ACD caused by dexpanthenol, and to characterize reactive patients.

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the files of patients patch tested between 2009 and 2017 in the Department of Dermatology of the Coimbra's University Hospital and describe patients who reacted to dexpanthenol 5% pet., tested initially in a cosmetic/vehicle series and in the last 3 years in consecutive patients.

Results: Among 2171 patients, 26 (1.2%) had positive patch test reactions to dexpanthenol, mostly patients tested for chronic eczema (88.5%, n = 23), either widespread (5), or localized to the hands (5), face (4), or legs (7). Relevance could be traced in 20 patients (76.9%), related to the use of Bepanthene cream (15), moisturizers (3), topical medications (1), and a shampoo (1). Twenty-five of 26 patients (96.2%) reacted to several other allergens, mostly ingredients of cosmetic or pharmaceutical products.

Conclusions: Although ACD caused by dexpanthenol is considered to be rare, it may be frequently overlooked. As we found a relatively high frequency of relevant cases, in agreement with a previous study, the inclusion of dexpanthenol in patch test series, at least in cosmetic and topical drug series, is encouraged.

Keywords: CAS no. 81-13-0; allergic contact dermatitis; cosmetics; dexpanthenol; patch test; topical medication.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allergens / adverse effects*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology*
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Hair Preparations / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pantothenic Acid / adverse effects
  • Pantothenic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Patch Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Skin Cream / adverse effects
  • Vitamin B Complex / adverse effects*
  • Wound Healing / drug effects
  • Young Adult


  • Allergens
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Hair Preparations
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Pantothenic Acid
  • dexpanthenol