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The epidemic of contact allergy to methylisothiazolinone-An analysis of Danish consecutive patients patch tested between 2005 and 2019

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BACKGROUND: In 2005, methylisothiazolinone (MI) was allowed as a stand-alone preservative in cosmetics. This resulted in an epidemic of allergic contact dermatitis to MI, mainly affecting women exposed to leave-on cosmetics. Consequently, a regulation of Annex V in the European Union in 2017 banned the use of MI in leave-on cosmetics and reduced the allowed concentration in rinse-off products.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze the temporal trends in contact allergy to MI in Danish patients in relation to key events including European regulations over time.

METHODS: A retrospective study of consecutive patients patch tested with methylisothiazolinone from 2005 to 2019. Demographics and clinical characteristics in terms of MOAHLFA (male, occupational, atopic dermatitis, hand dermatitis, leg dermatitis, facial dermatitis and age >40 years), sources of exposure, and clinical relevance were analyzed in relation to key historical events.

RESULTS: Three hundred eighty of 12 494 patients (3.0%, 95CI: 2.7-3.4%) tested from 2005 to 2019 were sensitized to MI. An increasing trend in the prevalence of MI contact allergy from 2005 to 2019 (P < .01) was observed, although a decline in the absolute number of patch-test positive patients was seen from 2013 and onward. A reduction in leave-on cosmetics as a source of exposure was observed following the legislative ban in 2017, from 24.8% from in 2010 to 2013 to 6.2% in 2017 to 2019 (P < .01).

CONCLUSION: The epidemic of MI contact allergy is declining in absolute terms, although the prevalence in the patch-tested population has not returned to its pre-epidemic levels. The legislative regulation of MI in 2017 has been effective in terms of leave-on cosmetics as a source of exposure in MI allergic patients. The process of post-marketing risk assessment of contact allergens in the European Union needs improvement.

Original languageEnglish
JournalContact Dermatitis
Volume84
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)254-262
Number of pages9
ISSN0105-1873
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

    Research areas

  • epidemic, methylisothiazolinone, preservatives, prevention, risk assessment

ID: 64780148