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August 1966

Formaldehyde Allergy: Incidence and Patch Test Problems

Author Affiliations


From the Division of Dermatology, Department of Medicine, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, and the San Mateo (Calif) Medical Clinic.

Arch Dermatol. 1966;94(2):186-190. doi:10.1001/archderm.1966.01600260078009

Conflicting reports on formaldehyde allergy led us to analyze our clinical and patch test data. While patch-test positive formaldehyde allergy occurred in less than 5% of our eczematous patients, when present it was usually clinically significant. In three patients formaldehyde allergy caused garment contact dermatitis. Patch tests with formalin require critical evaluation as false-positive irritant responses may occur, especially if 4% or 5% formalin is used. The high incidence of so-called latent formaldehyde allergy found in some studies probably represents an artifact from misinterpretation of irritant reactions. The patch test with 2% formalin is a useful procedure in the investigation of contact dermatitis.

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