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Original Investigation
January 2016

Patch Testing for Methylisothiazolinone and Methylchloroisothiazolinone-Methylisothiazolinone Contact Allergy

Author Affiliations
  • 1Currently a medical student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 2Department of Dermatology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
JAMA Dermatol. 2016;152(1):67-72. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2015.3606

Importance  Contact allergy to methylisothiazolinone (MI) or to the combined formulation of methylchloroisothiazolinone and MI (MCI-MI) has increased significantly, with a frequency of as much as 11.1% in patients with dermatitis; however, few cohort studies in the US population have been reported.

Objective  To investigate the prevalence of contact allergies to MI and MCI-MI and the outcomes of patients with positive patch test reactions to MI and MCI-MI.

Design, Setting, and Participants  Retrospective medical record review of all consecutive patients (n = 703) presenting with possible allergic contact dermatitis and subsequently undergoing patch testing at a tertiary referral center from January 1, 2012, through November 30, 2014. Patch testing used the North American Contact Dermatitis Group standard series. The MCI-MI concentration was 100 ppm; the MI concentration in the screening series increased from 200 to 2000 ppm in January 2013. Demographic data, exposures, and outcomes were reported for patients with positive patch test reactions to MI and/or MCI-MI. Data were analyzed from December 1, 2014, through January 31, 2015.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Positive patch test reaction to MI and/or MCI-MI and identification of the relevance of contact allergy to these preservatives. Follow-up after allergen avoidance was determined when available.

Results  Of the 703 patients who underwent patch testing, contact allergy to MI and/or MCI-MI occurred in 57 patients (8.1%), with 35 reactions to MI only, 5 reactions to MCI-MI only, and 17 reactions to both. Prevalence of contact allergy to MI increased from 6 of 236 patients (2.5%) in 2012 to 16 of 235 patients (6.8%) in 2014. The most commonly affected sites were the hands and face. Contact allergy to MI and/or MCI-MI was occupationally related in 4 cases. Cosmetics, soaps and cleansers (including wet wipes), and hair care products accounted for all identified sources. Twenty-three patients had follow-up data, and 17 of these (74%) improved with allergen avoidance.

Conclusions and Relevance  The increasing prevalence of contact allergy to MI alone supports its addition to the standard series to identify cases missed by testing only for MCI-MI. Recent regulations by the European Commission have banned MCI-MI in all leave-on body products as of July 16, 2015. Currently recommended US regulations are less stringent; however, US regulatory agencies must act to ensure patient safety.