Adverse cutaneous reactions to skin care products on the face vary with age, but not with sex

Contact Dermatitis. 2018 Dec;79(6):365-369. doi: 10.1111/cod.13102. Epub 2018 Sep 12.


Background: Adverse skin reactions to skin care products have been increasing in recent years. However, to date, these reactions have not been well characterized.

Objective: To describe the symptoms, clinical signs and frequency of adverse cutaneous reactions to skin care products on the face in males vs females of various ages.

Patients and methods: All outpatients diagnosed with adverse cutaneous reactions to skin care products on the face examined by dermatologists at the Dermatology Hospital of South Medical University between November 1, 2016 and October 31, 2017, employing a questionnaire and an interview, were eligible. The associations of adverse cutaneous reactions with age and sex were analysed.

Results: A total of 433 outpatients, accounting for 0.12% of all outpatients, were assessed. Of these, 223 patients, including 204 females and 19 males, aged 4 to 75 years, were eventually diagnosed with adverse reactions to skin care products on the face. Eighty-two per cent of patients experienced pruritus, 80% showed erythema, and 48% showed visible swelling. The incidence rates of both xerosis and oedema correlated positively with age, whereas acne-like lesions were negatively associated with age, but not with sex.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that pruritus, xerosis and erythema are common adverse cutaneous reactions to facial skin care products. These reactions vary with age, but not with sex. Vigorous safety testing should precede the marketing of skin care products.

Keywords: adverse reactions; age; inflammation; sex; skin care products.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cosmetics / administration & dosage
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis*
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / etiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / etiology*
  • Dermatologic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Dermatologic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skin Care / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Cosmetics
  • Dermatologic Agents