Dermatitis :: Mystery Rash? Go for the Gold
All that itches is not gold, but the precious metal is among the leading causes of a skin condition called allergic contact dermatitis.
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, allergic contact dermatitis is a skin inflammation characterized by swollen, reddened and itchy skin that’s caused by direct contact with an allergen.
The Mayo team analyzed results from contact dermatitis testing conducted on 3,854 patients, each tested with an average of 69 allergens. Of the patients in the study, 69 percent had at least one positive reaction and 50 percent had two or more positive reactions.
The top ten contact dermatitis allergens were:
Nickel, frequently used in jewelry and clasps or buttons on clothing;
Gold, common to jewelry;
Balsam of Peru, a tree resin-derived fragrance used in perfumes and skin lotions;
Thimerosal, a mercury compound used in vaccines and local antiseptics;
Neomycin sulfate, a topical antibiotic common in first-aid creams and ointments. It’s also found in cosmetics, deodorants, soap and pet food;
Fragrance mix, a group of the eight most common fragrance allergens found in foods, cosmetic products, insecticides, antiseptics, soaps, perfumes and dental products;
Formaldehyde, a preservative used in numerous items including paints, medications, fabric finishes, paper products, household cleaners and cosmetics;
Cobalt chloride, a metal found in medical products, hair dye, antiperspirant, and metal-plated objects such as snaps, buttons and tools. Also found in cobalt blue pigment;
Bacitracin, a topical antibiotic;
Quaternium 15, a preservative found in cosmetic products such as self-tanners, shampoo, nail polish and sunscreen, and in industrial products such as polishes, paints and waxes.
The findings were presented this week at the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting, in San Francisco.
The study also confirmed that patch testing with a standard contact dermatitis series of substances is useful for identifying common contact allergens. Avoiding allergens is the chief treatment for contact dermatitis. In some cases, corticosteroid creams can be used to treat rashes caused by contact dermatitis.