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Patch Testing to Propylene Glycol: The Mayo Clinic Experience

Lalla, Soogan C., MB, ChB, FRCP*; Nguyen, Henry, MD*; Chaudhry, Hafsa, MD; Killian, Jill M., BS; Drage, Lisa A., MD*; Davis, Mark D.P., MD*; Yiannias, James A., MD§; Hall, Matthew R., MD

doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000393

Background Propylene glycol (PG) is a solvent, vehicle, and humectant being used increasingly in a wide array of personal care products, cosmetics, and topical medicaments. Propylene glycol is a recognized source of both allergic and irritant contact dermatitis.

Objective The aim of the study was to report incidence of positive patch tests to PG at Mayo Clinic.

Methods We retrospectively reviewed records of all patients patch tested to PG from January 1997 to December 2016.

Results A total of 11,738 patients underwent patch testing to 5%, 10%, or 20% PG. Of these, 100 (0.85%) tested positive and 41 (0.35%) had irritant reactions. Patients also tested to a mean of 5.6 concomitant positive allergens. The positive reaction rates were 0%, 0.26%, and 1.86% for 5%, 10%, and 20% PG, respectively, increasing with each concentration increase. The irritant reaction rates were 0.95%, 0.24%, and 0.5% for 5%, 10%, and 20% PG, respectively.

Conclusions Propylene glycol is common in skin care products and is associated with both allergic and irritant patch test reactions. Increased concentrations were associated with increased reactions.

From the *Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN;

Brown University Internal Medicine Program, Providence, RI;

Division of Biomedical Statistics and Informatics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN;

§Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ; and

Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL.

Address reprint requests to Mark D. P. Davis, MD, Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905. E-mail:

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

© 2018 American Contact Dermatitis Society
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