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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1995 Jan;32(1):25-31.

Estrogen dermatitis.

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Department of Medicine, Medical College of Ohio, Toledo 43699.



Autoimmune progesterone dermatitis includes pruritus, urticaria, papulovesicular eruptions, and bullous erythema multiforme. Sensitivity to estrogen has not been described, although it was probably first recognized almost 50 years ago.


Our purpose was to assess sensitization to selected hormones in women with a significant premenstrual flare of skin lesions.


Intradermal skin tests to 18 hormones and control substances were performed in seven patients and four control subjects and read for immediate urticarial and delayed type reactions. Six other control subjects had only estrone and progesterone skin tests. The effect of the antiestrogen tamoxifen on the course of the dermatosis was studied.


Seven women exhibiting severe premenstrual exacerbations of papulovesicular eruptions, urticaria, eczema, or generalized pruritus proved to have an unrecognized sensitivity to estrogen. Five patients had a positive delayed tuberculin-type skin test to estrogen. Two patients with generalized chronic urticaria had only an urticarial reaction to intradermal estrogens. Antiestrogen therapy with tamoxifen proved effective in all five patients, whereas elimination of oral estrogen therapy cured the other two patients.


Women can become sensitized to their own estrogens; the major clue is worsening of the skin problem premenstrually. Positive intradermal skin tests to estrogens are diagnostic. Tamoxifen is a specific therapy. We have named this disorder estrogen dermatitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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