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Allergy to Cosmetics: A Literature Review

Alani, Jennifer I. MB BCh BAO, GDip, MICGP*; Davis, Mark Denis P. MD*; Yiannias, James A. MD

doi: 10.1097/DER.0b013e3182a5d8bc

The term cosmetic has a broad definition and includes personal care products, hair care products, nail care products, and sunscreens. Modern cosmetics are safe for most users, and adverse reactions are very rare because the manufacturers invest heavily in safety, quality control, and product testing before releasing the product to the market. Despite these efforts, adverse reactions occur. Skin care products are major contributors to cosmetic allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), followed by hair care and nail care products. The most common allergens are fragrances and preservatives. The diagnosis of cosmetic allergy is established by reviewing the patient’s clinical history and physical examination findings and confirmed with skin patch testing. Patch testing is the standard method for detecting allergens responsible for eliciting ACD. The purpose of this article was to review the prevalence, legislative laws, and role of patch testing in ACD.

Author Information

From the *Mayo Clinic Rochester, Rochester, MN, and †Arizona Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ.

Address reprint requests to Jennifer Alani, MB BCh BAO, 509 2nd Street NW, Rochester, MN 55901.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to declare.

© 2013 American Contact Dermatitis Society

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