A few takes from European Society of Contact Dermatitis congress 2022

Skin allergy in numbers 

So how many men contra women have allergy towards fragrance? How old are they? And what type of products are they exposed to? Credit: Cynthia van Amerongen from the University in Groningen, the Netherlands, talking at ESCD in Amsterdam 2022.  

Fact: the prevalence of contact allergy to Fragrance Mix I in the general European population is 3.5 %.

Comment: when you go to see a dermatologist because you suspect you might be allergic to perfume – he or she will typically test you with two different patches. One with Fragrance Mix I and the other with Fragrance Mix II. This means you will be tested for allergy to 14 different perfumes. Different studies have shown that out of 100 Europeans three and a half of us will be allergic to one or more of the perfumes in Fragrance Mix I. And this is just Fragrance Mix I. (Note to further studies: One of the hassels with patch testing with a Fragrance Mix is that the patient will not know which one of the perfumes he or she is allergic to). Anyway; 3,5 out of 100 Europeans are allergic to Fragrance Mix I. 

Fact: 3.314 people participated in this study. 55 % were women, leaving the last 45 % to being men. 41 % of the participants were younger than 40 and 59 % were more than forty years old. Of the participants who tested positive to having an allergy towards Fragrance Mix I 67 % of the positive were women. And it were the 40+ years old women who mainly tested positive with 70 % more than forty being positive.

Fact: all of the 3.314 participants were asked to self report what type of products they use during a week – both on weekly basis and daily as well. From the long list of products the participants mentioned the conclusion was drawn that the more leave on products people use the higher risk there is of developing skin allergy towards perfume. 

Comment: it is not necessarily a surprise that the risk of skin allergy is higher if you use many leave on products with perfume since you leave the product on your skin for a long time. Once you have skin allergy the rinse off products with perfume can become a problem giving you an allergic reaction to the product even though it is on your skin for a short period of time.  

Black Beard = Skin Allergy?

John McFadden who is a dermatologist at St Johns Institute of Dermatology in London gave a brief talk about dyeing your beard. He gave a very simple and easy to remember advice: 

Advice regarding dyeing facial beard moustache hair: don’t do it. 

The risk of allergic contact dermatitis is simply too high. The reason being if you want your beard to stay black you have to dye it just about every second week. The problem with dyeing your beard so often is that dye allergens will still be in your skin after 21-28 days. So when you dye your beard every second week you will actually accumulate dye allergen in the skin and therefore increase the risk of developing allergy.  

So try to accept your graying beard and prevent getting allergy. 

Work related skin allergy 

There are a long list of jobs where the risk of developing skin allergy is increased. One of them is working as a massage therapist.   

  • Hand dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis is common among massage therapists  
  • Most relevant allergens are fragrance and essential oils 
  • Sensitization primarily related to occupational exposure to massage oils and other preparation contain these allergens 
  • Massage therapist should be made aware of sensitization risk- Þ fragrance free product and use of protective gloves should be promoted