Parabens have been widely used as preservatives in the cosmetics, food, and pharmaceutical industries for more than 70 years. Monitoring for paraben allergy closely followed with studies reporting paraben testing in standard screening fashion as early as 1940. The frequency of sensitivity to this widely used biocide has remained low and remarkably stable for many decades despite extensive use and progressive expansion of utilization worldwide. The authors select paraben mix as the (non)allergen of the year. Paraben reactions are quite uncommon and generally relevant. Parabens remain one of the least allergenic preservatives available. The unsubstantiated public perception of paraben safety has led to its replacement in many products with preservatives having far greater allergenic potential. This report reviews the well-established safety of parabens from an allergologic standpoint.
From the *Associates in Dermatology, Fort Myers, FL;
†MS IV, American University of Caribbean, Saint Martin;
‡Department of Dermatology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY;
§Department of Dermatology, University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis;
∥Division of Dermatology, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada;
¶University of Louisville, KY;
#Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto; and
**Division of Dermatology, University of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada;
††Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco;
‡‡Department of Dermatology, Cleveland Clinic, OH;
§§Department of Dermatology, Pennsylvania State University, State College;
∥∥Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati, OH;
¶¶Department of Dermatology, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA;
##Ohio State University, Columbus;
***Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH;
†††Department of Dermatology, Duke University, Durham, NC;
‡‡‡Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL; and
§§§Margo J Reeder, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.
Address reprint requests to Anthony F. Fransway, MD, Associates in Dermatology, 8381 Riverwalk Park Blvd, Ste 101, Fort Myers, FL 33919. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
D.V.B. and J.G.M. are Expert Panel Members, Cosmetic Ingredient Review, Washington, DC. E.M.W. has been a consultant to WEN by Chaz Dean. J.S.T. is an employee of Pfizer Inc. and a stockholder in the following companies: AstraZeneca Express Scripts, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company, and Merck and Co. Inc. He is also a consultant for Bayer, Decision Support in Medicine LLC, Equinox Group, and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development. The other authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to declare.