Allergic contact dermatitis to preservatives.

Vickie L. Timm-Knudson, Janis S. Johnson, Karel J. Ortiz, James A. Yiannias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In summary, a wide variety of skin care products contain preservatives. Patients who are allergic to one of these preservatives may have either localized or widespread dermatitis. Affected patients may find it difficult to avoid thimerosal without the help of the health care provider because the use of these allergens is so widespread. Patch testing is an invaluable tool for patients who struggle with dermatitis. Antigen-avoidance lists that facilitate patient education about what products to avoid are available from the manufacturers of patch test allergens (for example, TRUE Test or Chemotechnique). These lists are helpful starting points for patients in that they provide general categories (for example, shampoos, soaps, or creams) of products that the patient should avoid. With these printed guidelines alone, patients must read skin care product labels carefully, looking for the names of their allergens as identified by patch tests as well as for any synonyms and cross-reactors of these allergens. Thus, patients may feel overwhelmed by hearing the names of allergens that are long and complex. After an allergen has been identified, the nurse can play a key role in helping patients understand their dermatitis and its management. Nurses are in a unique position to spend time educating patients about how to uncover the sources of specific allergens and, subsequently, how to avoid them. The Contact Allergen Replacement Database can help in this educational process by giving patients a shopping list of specific items that are free of the specific allergens causing their allergic contact dermatitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-136
Number of pages7
JournalDermatology nursing / Dermatology Nurses' Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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