Background: Preservatives are indispensable agents used to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination of cosmetics, personal care products, domestic preparations, and industrial products.
Objective: We evaluated patch-test data at the National Skin Centre, Singapore, from 2006 to 2011 to identify the trends in preservative contact allergies.
Methods: All patients with suspected contact dermatitis were patch tested to 4 preservatives within the modified European standard series. Patients were also tested with 7 preservatives from our special series if clinically indicated.
Results: Three thousand one hundred seventy-seven patients were tested to preservatives in the standard series. Sensitization frequencies were all greater than 1%: parabens (2.58%), methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone (1.75%), quaternium 15 (1.43%), and methyldibromoglutaronitrile (1.2%). There was no change in trends in sensitization frequencies from 2006 to 2011, with no increase in sensitization frequency to methylchloroisothiazolinone/methylisothiazolinone. The sensitization frequencies for methyldibromoglutaronitrile/phenoxyethanol and diazolidinylurea were 2.03% and 1.37%, respectively, and remained less than 1% for bronopol, imidazolidinyl urea, and 2-phenoxyethanol. A rate of 0% was seen for 1,3-dimethylol-5,5-dimethyl hydantoin and formaldehyde; 9.4% of positive patch-test results became positive only at day 7.
Conclusions: Preservatives are common causes of allergic contact dermatitis. This should be considered when introducing new preservatives into the market. Day 7 readings are important to detect late reactions.