Acrylates are present in a wide variety of products and cause occupational and non-occupational allergic contact dermatitis. There is no clear guidance from the literature as to which allergens should be used for patch-test screening for acrylates. To characterize patients with contact allergy to acrylates and to evaluate the allergens used to screen for acrylate allergy. Charts of patients visiting an outpatient contact dermatitis clinic from January 1998 to February 2008 were reviewed retrospectively. Forty-four patients were found to have contact allergy to acrylates. The most commonly positive allergens were hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA), ethyl acrylate (EA), and methyl methacrylate (MMA). Thirty-two of the 44 positive patch-test results (73%) would have been discovered with the use of the two compounds (MMA, EA) in the North American Standard Series (Chemotechnique screening series), a commercially available screening series, while 12 were found through expanded patch testing. Artificial nails, dental materials, and adhesives were the most common exposures. Occupational relevance was found in 18 cases, including those of dental workers, assemblers, and aestheticians. Acrylates are an important cause of contact allergy. Screening series identify most cases of acrylate allergy but miss a substantial number. Clinicians should remain vigilant for acrylate allergy even if initial screening is negative.
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