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Contact Dermatitis. 2010 Jan;62(1):18-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0536.2009.01631.x.

Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Part 2. Patch test relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy, experimental provocation tests, amount of formaldehyde released, and assessment of risk to consumers allergic to formaldehyde.

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Department of Dermatology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


This is the second part of an article on formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics. The patch test relationship between the releasers in cosmetics to formaldehyde contact allergy is reviewed and it is assessed whether products preserved with formaldehyde-releasers may contain enough free formaldehyde to pose a threat to individuals with contact allergy to formaldehyde. There is a clear relationship between positive patch test reactions to formaldehyde-releasers and formaldehyde contact allergy: 15% of all reactions to 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol and 40-60% of the reactions to the other releasers are caused by a reaction to the formaldehyde in the test material. There is only fragmented data on the amount of free formaldehyde in cosmetics preserved with formaldehyde donors. However, all releasers (with the exception of 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, for which adequate data are lacking) can, in the right circumstances of concentration and product composition, release >200 p.p.m. formaldehyde, which may result in allergic contact dermatitis. Whether this is actually the case in any particular product cannot be determined from the ingredient labelling. Therefore, we recommend advising patients allergic to formaldehyde to avoid leave-on cosmetics preserved with quaternium-15, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, or imidazolidinyl urea, acknowledging that many would tolerate some products.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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