ORLANDO (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Alkyl glucosides, mild surfactants derived from natural, sustainable sources, have been named allergen of the year by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

The ecofriendly nature of these compounds has led to their inclusion in more personal care products in the last decade and a half. Alkyl glucosides are derived from coconut, palm, or rapeseed oil with glucose supplied by corn, wheat starch, or potatoes. They can be found in rinse-off products such as shampoos, shower gels, and liquid cleansers but also in leave-on products such as deodorants, sunscreens, and moisturizers, investigators said at the annual meeting of the American Contact Dermatitis Society, held just prior to the start of the American Academy of Dermatology’s annual meeting.

Camille Loranger, MD, of the department of dermatology, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, presented her institution’s experience with allergic contact dermatitis caused by alkyl glucosides. A total of 3,095 patients were patch tested at the clinic between January 2009 and June 2016. Researchers used the North American Contact Dermatitis Group 65-allergen series , which includes decyl glucoside (5% in petrolatum). Slightly more than half of patients (1,628) also were tested for reactions to lauryl glucoside (3% in petrolatum) as part of an additional cosmetic series. Twenty patients in the larger series reacted to decyl glucoside, while 15 of those who tested for lauryl glucoside reacted. Of those 15 patients, 6 were found to be allergic to decyl glucoside as well ( Dermatitis. 2017 Jan/Feb;28[1]:5-13 ).

Allergy to alkyl glucosides became more common over time in the McGill series. The rate of positivity was low in the early years of the series, but increased from 1.37% of 437 patients in 2014 to 2.2% of 227 patients tested in the first half of 2016, Dr. Loranger said.

“Most of our patients were women with an average age of 48 years,” she added. “Body sites most commonly affected were the head and the hands. Only one case could be attributed to occupational exposure.”

Most patients – 86% – also were atopic (asthma, eczema, and rhinitis).

Products identified as most commonly causing a positive reaction were leave-on moisturizers and hand creams.

Donald V. Belsito, MD , professor of dermatology at Columbia University, N.Y., introduced the allergen of the year, pointing out that the compounds selected are not necessarily “bad actors.”

“The allergen of the year is really chosen to educate dermatologists about allergens that may be of low prevalence but a high relevance,” Dr. Belsito said. The allergens selected “are difficult to test for because they are tested for at irritant concentrations. It doesn’t mean they are these horrible substances that are damaging the world necessarily.”

The ACDS has been naming an allergen of the year since 2004.


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