Contact dermatitis

Formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics: relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy. Part 1. Characterization, frequency and relevance of sensitization, and frequency of use in cosmetics.

PMID 20136875


In this part of a series of review articles on formaldehyde-releasers and their relationship to formaldehyde contact allergy, formaldehyde-releasers in cosmetics are discussed. In this first part of the article, key data are presented including frequency of sensitization and of their use in cosmetics. In Europe, low frequencies of sensitization have been observed to all releasers: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol 0.4-1.2%, diazolidinyl urea 0.5-1.4%, imidazolidinyl urea 0.3-1.4%, quaternium-15 0.6-1.9% (for DMDM hydantoin no recent data are available). All releasers score (far) higher prevalences in the USA; the possible explanations for this are discussed. The relevance of positive patch test reactions has been insufficiently investigated. In the USA, approximately 20% of cosmetics and personal care products (stay-on products: 17%, rinse-off products 27%) contain a formaldehyde-releaser. The use of quaternium-15 is decreasing. For Europe, there are no comparable recent data available. In the second part of the article, the patch test relationship of the releasers in cosmetics to formaldehyde contact allergy will be reviewed and it will be assessed whether products preserved with formaldehyde-releasers may contain enough free formaldehyde to pose a threat to individuals who have contact allergy to formaldehyde.