Isothiazolinone Detection in Dish Soap and Personal Care Products: Comparison of Lovibond Isothiazolinone Test Kit and Ultrahigh-Performance Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry

Dermatitis. 2021 Jul-Aug 01;32(4):245-250. doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000672.

Abstract

Background: Isothiazolinones are commonly used preservatives, which may cause allergic contact dermatitis. The Lovibond Isothiazolinone Test Kit (LITK) has been reported to successfully identify clinically relevant, occult isothiazolinones in patient personal care products.

Objective: The aim of the study was to analyze dish soaps and personal care products that do not declare isothiazolinones ("no-ISO") for the presence of isothiazolinones via 2 methods: LITK and ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC-MS/MS).

Methods: No-ISO dish soaps (n = 9), a convenience sample of patient products (n = 6), and controls (positive [isothiazolinone declared], n = 5; negative, n = 2) were tested with LITK (X3) and UHPLC-MS/MS.

Results: Several no-ISO dish soaps and personal products were positive for isothiazolinones (LITK, n = 12; UHPLC-MS/MS, n = 3). Ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry specifically identified methylisothiazolinone alone in 1 no-ISO dish soap, methylchloroisothiazolinone in another, and both in a third. Using UHPLC-MS/MS as the criterion standard, we observed the accuracy of LITK for 9 dish soaps was poor (sensitivity, 66.7%; specificity, 20%) and very poor for 6 personal care products (sensitivity, 0%; specificity, 0%).

Conclusions: Personal products may contain undeclared isothiazolinones. The current study found that LITK had poor accuracy for testing dish soap and personal care products. Clinicians should be aware of these factors when managing patients with contact allergy to isothiazolinones.