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Contact Dermatitis. 1987 Nov;17(5):306-9.

Allergic contact dermatitis of the face from contact with nickel and ammoniated mercury in spectacle frames and skin-lightening creams.

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Department of Dermatology, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Republic of China.


A total of 507 (M 121, F 386) cases of facial dermatitis were investigated, of whom 308 (M 49, F 259) had eczema confined to the face. The prevalence of positive patch tests was 45% (229/507). Among all the patients, the 2 most frequent allergens were nickel (15.2%) and ammoniated mercury (6.1%), with the incidence of nickel sensitivity in men (20%) being greater than in women (13.7%). 56% of the nickel-positive cases were caused by metal spectacle frames. Taiwan's high number of spectacle-wearers, its subtropical climate and the characteristic oriental facial structure are possibly major contributing factors. Most ammoniated mercury (AM)-sensitive cases resulted from cosmetics. Skin-lightening creams are widely used in Taiwan, but their content is poorly controlled. According to consumer reports, 14.9% (48/322) had applied AM-containing cosmetics. Of all the cosmetics tested for mercury, 2.2% (60/2711) were positive.

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