I am trying to determine the percent of the general population who develop allergies to cosmetics. I am also wondering of that percent how many individuals report anaphylaxis?


Thank you for your inquiry.

There is a wide variation in the reported incidence of cosmetic-induced contact dermatitis reported in the medical literature. One of the reasons for this relates to the difference in sample sources. In some studies, the general population serves as the sample source, and in others, patients visiting dermatology clinics serve as the source. A complete discussion of these issues and conclusion as to the most accurate in terms of the true incidence is beyond the scope of this website, but I can give you a reference which will provide you all the information that you will need to apply to your own analysis of the true incidence based on what is known to date. The abstract of that article is copied for you below.

You will find, in the introduction to the study as well as in the discussion, a complete review of this issue from which you can draw conclusions.

Thank you again for your inquiry and we hope this response is helpful to you.

Dermatitis. 2009 Sep-Oct;20(5):284-6.
Questionnaire study of the prevalence of allergic contact dermatitis from cosmetics in Israel.
Trattner A, Slodownik D, Jbarah A, Ingber A.
Department of Dermatology, Rabin Medical Center, Petach Tikva and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Background: The prevalence of cosmetics-related contact dermatitis is rising, owing mainly to the wider use of cosmetics by the public and the routine diagnostic use of patch tests.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of cosmetics allergy in Israel.
Methods: A questionnaire was distributed to a random sample of 360 female customers of pharmacies and beauty salons in two areas of the country. Items included general health profile, family history of atopy, occurrence of rash due to patch-test-proven cosmetics allergy, anatomic sites of the rash, subjective aspects regarding the rash, and cosmetics consumption habits.
Results: Patient age ranged from 15 to 89 years. Eleven subjects (3.1%) had patch-test-proven cosmetics allergic contact dermatitis. There was a correlation between proven cosmetics allergy and subjective sensitivity to facial cream (p = .03).
Conclusions: The 3.1% prevalence rate of cosmetics contact allergic dermatitis in a randomly selected population in Israel is similar to values reported in the literature (about 2%). The higher-than-expected rate of subjective sensitivity to facial cream among patients with proven cosmetics allergy may be explained by the wide use of facial cream, facial skin susceptibility to insult, and the relatively long duration of contact of facial cream (a leave-on product) with the skin.

Phil Lieberman, M.D.

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