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Contact Dermatitis. 2000 Nov;43(5):264-6.

Benzalkonium chloride neutralizes the irritant effect of sodium dodecyl sulfate.

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St John's Institute of Dermatology, St Thomas's Hospital, London, UK.


When benzalkonium chloride (BKC), a cationic surfactant, is added to sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), an anionic surfactant, and used in patch testing, on the basis of their known physicochemical interaction, it is possible to predict that there will be a tendency towards a reduction in the expected irritant response when compared to SDS alone. The aim of this study was to investigate whether BKC could reduce the irritant response to SDS when applied after the SDS exposure. 54 non-atopic adult volunteers were recruited for the study. 20% SDS was applied for 2 h under occlusion. 1% BKC was then applied to the same site. Various controls, including SDS application followed by water for 2 h, were included. The irritant reaction was assessed at 24 h and 48 h. 40 of the 54 subjects had some reaction when SDS was applied for 2 h followed by either benzalkonium chloride or water control under occlusion. In comparison to water control, where BKC was applied after SDS, 20 of the 40 responders had a weaker reaction but only 4 had a stronger response. This study shows that BKC applied to skin exposed to SDS attenuates the resulting irritant reaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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