Currently produced bar soaps that are used for personal hygiene and that contain no special ingredient seldom produce a dermatitis when not used excessively. Excessive use of soap and water may be partly responsible for a dermatitis or may aggravate a preexisting dermatitis. In such cases it is now thought that the action of the soap is not that of an allergen. The rare individual who is thought to be allergically hypersensitive to a bar soap is often shown to be sensitive to some ingredient other than the alkaline salts of the fatty acids—the true soaps. Patients have been observed who are hypersensitive to a dye or a perfume in a soap.
Until recent years, antiseptic soaps have not been used by a very large percentage of the population. Formerly a soap containing a mercury salt was sometimes used by physicians and surgeons. Phenol and phenolic derivatives were occasionally added
Blank IH. ALLERGIC HYPERSENSITIVITY TO AN ANTISEPTIC SOAP. JAMA. 1956;160(14):1225–1226. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02960490039010b
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