Triethanolamine is extensively used in the manufacture of cosmetics and in dermatologic therapy. Maynard1 has pointed out the value of its emulsifying and skin-softening properties when used in ointments and oily bases to facilitate their removal from hairy surfaces and to increase the penetration of medicaments into the skin. Goodman2 has indicated its extensive use in the manufacture of soap and cosmetic cream. Commercial triethanolamine, consisting of 2 to 5 per cent monoethanolamine, 11 to 20 per cent diethanolamine and over 80 per cent triethanolamine, is as efficacious as triethanolamine of 99 per cent purity.
In view of the wide use of the chemical by manufacturers and its increasing use in dermatologic therapy, it is to be expected that some cases of cutaneous hypersensitivity of the contact eczematous type will occur, although Goodman2a has applied triethanolamine to denuded cutaneous surfaces without producing irritating symptoms. Maynard and Goodman
CURTIS GH, NETHERTON EW. CUTANEOUS HYPERSENSITIVITY TO TRIETHANOLAMINE: REPORT OF TWO CASES. Arch Derm Syphilol. 1940;41(4):729–731. doi:10.1001/archderm.1940.01490100093016
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