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December 1959

Primary Irritation of the Skin: Observations on Threshold Reactions

Author Affiliations


From the Department of Dermatology, University of Illinois College of Medicine (Drs. Haeberlin and Fox) and The Department of Dermatology, Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital (Dr. Haeberlin).

AMA Arch Derm. 1959;80(6):690-699. doi:10.1001/archderm.1959.01560240042005

The importance of primary irritation of the skin in producing an eczematous dermatitis by itself, as well as influencing the engendering of an allergic eczematous contact dermatitis is well documented. The recent literature is replete with articles adding to the fund of observations on mechanisms of pathogenesis of the eczematous sensitization and various aspects of dermatitis and eczema, but relatively few references are found under the heading of primary irritation as such. At present much of this information is found under such topics as contact dermatitis due to specific agents, thermal injuries, industrial dermatitis, and eczemas of various sorts, and it is inseparably linked with studies on allergic reactions in the skin. This is quite understandable since the need for such a term arose from the introduction of the concept of allergy which called for a designation to distinguish allergic from nonallergic forms