The epidemic of methylisothiazolinone: a European prospective study

Jakob F. Schwensen, Wolfgang Uter, Magnus Bruze, Cecilia Svedman, An Goossens, Mark Wilkinson, Ana Giménez Arnau, Margarida Gonçalo, Klaus E. Andersen, Evy Paulsen, Tove Agner, Caterina Foti, Kristiina Aalto-Korte, John McFadden, Ian White, Jeanne D. Johansen

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63 Citations (Scopus)


© 2016 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd Background: The use of methylisothiazolinone (MI) in cosmetic products has caused an unprecedented epidemic of MI contact allergy. Current data concerning exposures at a European level are required. Objectives: To describe demographics and MI exposures for European patients with MI contact allergy. Methods: Eleven European dermatology departments from eight European countries prospectively collected data between 1 May and 31 October 2015 among consecutive patients who had positive patch test reactions to MI (2000 ppm aq.). Results: A total of 6.0% (205/3434; range 2.6–13.0%) of patients had positive patch test reactions to MI. Dermatitis most frequently affected the hands (43.4%), face (32.7%), arms (14.6%), and eyelids (11.7%); 12.7% had widespread dermatitis. For 72.7% (149/205), MI contact allergy was currently relevant mainly because of exposure to cosmetic products (83.2%; 124/149). Of these 124 patients, 19.5% were exposed to leave-on and rinse-off cosmetic products, 24.8% only to leave-on cosmetic products and 38.9% only to rinse-off cosmetic products containing MI or methylchloroisothiazolinone/MI. The majority of these (79%) noted onset of their dermatitis between 2013 and 2015. Fifteen patients (7.3%) had previously experienced allergic reactions when they were in newly painted rooms. Conclusion: Clinically relevant MI contact allergy remains prevalent across European countries, mainly because of exposure to rinse-off and leave-on cosmetic products.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-279
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • allergic contact dermatitis
  • CAS no. 2682-20-4
  • cosmetics
  • exposure
  • methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • methylisothiazolinone


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