The cosmetic allergy conundrum: Inference of an immunoregulatory response to cosmetic allergens

John P. McFadden, Ian R. White, David Basketter, Pailin Puangpet, Ian Kimber

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Summary The ability to be sensitized to experimental contact allergens declines significantly with increasing age, from as early as age 40 years. In contrast, the rate of contact allergy to chemical allergens (haptens) in cosmetic products significantly increases with age. This has been explained previously on the basis of greater cumulative exposure in the older age groups. However, outbreaks of contact allergy to preservatives in cosmetic products recorded soon after their introduction to the market have also shown a significantly higher rate among older adult age groups. This association with increasing age cannot be readily explained by exposure history or pattern, and is not compatible with a sensitizing/stimulatory reaction that degrades with age as the sole immune response. From this, the existence of a second, tolerizing/regulatory arm to the immune response to cutaneous haptens that possibly becomes less effective with age at a higher rate than the sensitizing/stimulatory arm can be inferred. This reinforces the view that current clinical and experimental observations of allergic contact dermatitis are best explained by an immune system with the functional ability to produce both sensitizing/stimulatory and tolerizing/regulatory responses. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-137
    Number of pages8
    JournalContact dermatitis
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


    • allergic contact dermatitis
    • cosmetic
    • immune regulation
    • methylisothiazolinone


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