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Brief Report
November 27, 2019

Facial Dermatitis in Male Patients Referred for Patch Testing: Retrospective Analysis of North American Contact Dermatitis Group Data, 1994 to 2016

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 2Department of Dermatology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  • 3University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis
  • 4Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 5Department of Dermatology, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
  • 6Department of Dermatology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 7Department of Dermatology, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • 8Department of Dermatology, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison
  • 9Division of Dermatology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 10Division of Dermatology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 11Department of Dermatology, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California
  • 12Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire
  • 13Associates in Dermatology, Fort Myers, Florida
  • 14Department of Dermatology, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • 15Department of Dermatology, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 16University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky
  • 17Department of Dermatology, Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania
  • 18Division of Dermatology, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • 19Department of Dermatology, Ohio State University, Columbus
JAMA Dermatol. 2020;156(1):79-84. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2019.3531
Key Points

Question  What characteristics, allergens, and sources are associated with male facial dermatitis?

Findings  In this retrospective cross-sectional analysis of 50 507 patients who underwent patch testing, 1332 male patients had facial dermatitis, increasing from 5.6% in 1994 through 1996 to 10.6% in 2015 through 2016. Male patients with facial dermatitis were significantly younger than other male participants and commonly reacted to allergens in personal care products including preservatives, fragrances, hair dye, and surfactants.

Meaning  Male patients with facial dermatitis appear to have unique sources of allergens that must be considered as male grooming practices evolve; dermatologists should be aware of these implications to adequately identify and treat patients.


Importance  Facial dermatitis in women is well characterized. However, recent shifts in the men’s grooming industry may have important implications for male facial dermatitis.

Objective  To characterize male patients with facial dermatitis.

Design, Setting, and Participants  A 22-year retrospective cross-sectional analysis (1994-2016) of North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) data, including 50 507 patients who underwent patch testing by a group of dermatology board-certified patch test experts at multiple centers was carried out. Facial dermatitis was defined as involvement of the eyes, eyelids, lips, nose, or face (not otherwise specified).

Main Outcomes and Measures  The main outcome was to compare characteristics (including demographics and allergens) between male patients with facial dermatitis (MFD) and those without facial dermatitis (MNoFD) using statistical analysis (relative risk, CIs). Secondary outcomes included sources of allergic and irritant contact dermatitis and, for occupationally related cases, specific occupations and industries in MFD.

Results  Overall, 1332 male patients (8.0%) were included in the MFD group and 13 732 male patients (82.0%) were included in MNoFD. The mean (SD) age of participants was 47 (17.2) years in the MFD group and 50 (17.6) years in the MNoFD group. The most common facial sites were face (not otherwise specified, 817 [48.9%]), eyelids (392 [23.5%]), and lips (210 [12.6%]). Participants in the MFD group were significantly younger than MNoFD (mean age, 47 vs 50 years; P < .001). Those in the MFD group were less likely to be white (relative risk [RR], 0.92; 95% CI, –0.90 to 0.95) or have occupationally related skin disease (RR, 0.49; 95% CI, –0.42 to 0.58; P < .001) than MNoFD. The most common allergens that were associated with clinically relevant reactions among MFD included methylisothiazolinone (n = 113; 9.9%), fragrance mix I (n = 27; 8.5%), and balsam of Peru (n = 90; 6.8%). Compared with MNoFD, MFD were more likely to react to use of dimethylaminopropylamine (RR, 2.49; 95% CI, –1.42 to 4.37]) and paraphenylenediamine (RR, 1.43; 95% CI, –1.00 to 2.04; P < .001). Overall, 60.5% of NACDG allergen sources were personal care products.

Conclusions and Relevance  Although many allergens were similar in both groups, MFD were more likely to react to use of dimethylaminopropylamine and paraphenylenediamine, presumably owing to their higher prevalence in hair products. Most sources of allergic and irritant contact dermatitis in MFD were personal care products. This study provides insight into the risks and exposures of the increasing number of grooming products used by male dermatology patients. This will enable clinicians to better identify male patients who would benefit from patch testing and treat those with facial dermatitis.

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