Cosmetic contact sensitivity in general population – A clinico-epidemiological study

Mrinal Gupta


Objective To study the patterns of cosmetic dermatitis among general population and to identify the most common allergens and cosmetic product causing dermatitis using patch testing.


Methods One hundred and forty consecutive patients (M:F 57:83) with suspected cosmetic dermatitis were examined, detailed history regarding the use of different cosmetics was taken and the pattern of dermatitis was noted. All of them were subjected to patch testing using Indian Cosmetic Series and eight antigens of the Indian Standard Series.


Results The study included 57 (40.7%) males aged between 18 and 74 years and 87 (59.3%) females aged between 18 to 69 years and the majority of patients were in the 40-59 years age group (54.28%; n=76). The most common sites of cosmetic dermatitis observed were hands in 18, face and neck in nine and disseminated dermatitis in 3 patients. Itching was the most common symptom present in 91 (65%) patients and the most common clinical manifestation was erythema and papules in 124 (88.6%) patients. The most frequently implicated cosmetics were hair dyes (58.5%), face creams (42.1%), perfumes (32.1%), soaps (16.4%) and nail paints (13.5%). 79 (56.4%) patients showed positive reaction to one or more allergens on patch testing. The most common allergens giving positive patch test were p‑phenylenediamine (PPD) in 54 (68.4%), fragrance mix in 8 (10.1%), colophony, parabens mix and thiomersal in three patients each (3.8%).


Conclusion The incidence of cosmetic dermatitis is higher among the 40-59 years age group with hands and face being the most commonly affected sites. Hair dyes and creams are the most commonly implicated agents, while PPD, fragrance mix, thiomersal and cetrimide are the most common causative allergens.



Cosmetic dermatitis, beauticians, hairdressers, occupational dermatoses, hair dye, p-phenylenediamine (PPD)

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