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August 1979

Allergic Contact Hypersensitivity to Nickel, Neomycin, Ethylenediamine, and Benzocaine: Relationships Between Age, Sex, History of Exposure, and Reactivity to Standard Patch Tests and Use Tests in a General Population

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology Research, Letterman Army Institute of Research (Drs Prystowsky, Allen, and Akers and Messrs Smith and Nonomura); Dermatology Service, Letterman Army Medical Center (Dr Odom), Presidio of San Francisco; and Department of Dermatology, University of California (Dr Prystowsky), San Francisco.

Arch Dermatol. 1979;115(8):959-962. doi:10.1001/archderm.1979.04010080023015

A study population of 1,158 paid adult volunteers was obtained. Prior to patch testing, a history of previous exposure to four allergens also was obtained. Prevalence of positive reactions to patch tests was nickel, 5.8%; neomycin, 1.1%; ethylenediamine, 0.43%; and benzocaine, 0.17%. Nine percent of women reacted to nickel compared with 0.9% of men. There was a strong correlation of nickel sensitivity with a history of pierced ears, earlobe rash, and jewelry rash. Ten of 12 neomycin-positive subjects used neomycin for one week or longer on an inflammatory dermatosis, compared with six of 36 age-, race-, and sex-matched controls. By history, 85% were exposed to benzocaine, 48% to neomycin, and 15% to Mycolog (ethylenediamine). Of 127 patients referred to clinics for evaluation of contact dermatitis, 11% yielded positive tests to nickel, 6.3% to neomycin, 3.1% to ethylenediamine, and 1.6% to benzocaine. Data obtained from testing contact dermatitis patients are not applicable to the general population.

(Arch Dermatol 115:959-962, 1979)

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