Contact allergy to kojic acid in skin care products

Contact Dermatitis. 1995 Jan;32(1):9-13. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.1995.tb00832.x.


Kojic acid (5-hydroxy-2-(hydroxymethyl)-4-pyrone), a fungal metabolic product, has increasingly been used as a skin-depigmenting agent in skin care products marketed in Japan since 1988. In order to determine its frequency of sensitization, during 1 year from October 1992 to September 1993, we performed patch testing with it in 220 female patients with suspected cosmetic-related contact dermatitis. Of the 220 patients, 8 used at least 1 skin care product containing kojic acid, 5 of whom reacted to kojic acid as well as to 1 or more their own products containing 1% kojic acid, but not to their other products not containing it, and 3 of whom were negative to kojic acid and all their own products. Patch testing with kojic acid in the remaining group of 212 patients, who had not previously used skin care products containing it, was negative without exception. The 5 kojic-acid-sensitive patients, aged 34 to 58 years, developed facial dermatitis 1-12 months after starting application of kojic-acid-containing products. Kojic acid is considered to have high sensitizing potential, as a comparatively high frequency of contact sensitivity was observed in patients using products containing it (5 out of 8).

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adult
  • Cosmetics / adverse effects*
  • Cosmetics / therapeutic use
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis, Allergic Contact / immunology*
  • Drug Eruptions / diagnosis
  • Drug Eruptions / immunology*
  • Facial Dermatoses / chemically induced*
  • Facial Dermatoses / diagnosis
  • Facial Dermatoses / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycotoxins / adverse effects*
  • Mycotoxins / therapeutic use
  • Patch Tests
  • Pyrones / adverse effects*
  • Pyrones / therapeutic use
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / immunology*


  • Cosmetics
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pyrones
  • kojic acid