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August 1960

Reactions in Green Tattoos: The Significance of the Valence State of Chromium

Author Affiliations

Johannesburg, Union of South Africa

From the South African Institute for Medical Research, Johannesburg.

Arch Dermatol. 1960;82(2):237-243. doi:10.1001/archderm.1960.01580020079013

Allergic reactions in green tattoos have now been reported in seven cases,1-5 of whom four showed a foreign-body and/or sarcoid reaction on histologic examination. The typical case acquires an allergic sensitivity to dichromates and later presents a reaction in areas tattooed with chrome green many years before. The fact that the chrome in dichromates and the chrome used in tattooing differ fundamentally in their chemical, biologic, and allergenic behavior has hitherto been ignored. In the absence of cross sensitivity between chrome in its different states of valence another explanation of this phenomenon must be sought.

Report of a Case  The patient, a white man, age 35, was first seen in August, 1958. Employed as a bricklayer, he was in frequent contact with wet cement. For one year he has had a persistent eczema of the hands and legs, with occasional generalized dissemination. Patch tests with potassium dichromate were positive