Chloroxylenol, also known as p-chloro-m-xylenol (PCMX), is a compound that has been used as a preservative in cosmetics and as an active agent in antimicrobial soaps. We present two patients with allergic contact dermatitis from PCMX, confirmed by positive (+++) patch-test reactions at 48 and 72 hours, identification of PCMX in a soap and in a hand cream used by the patients, and improvement following withdrawal of the incriminating products. The mechanism of action, structure, antimicrobial activity, and dangers of PCMX are reviewed.
From the University of Texas Medical School Southwestern, Dallas, TX, and the Department of Dermatology, University of Pittsburgh Medical School, Pittsburgh, PA.
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