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Reviewed: 5/8/2019
Does a patient with a pine nut allergy need to avoid dental varnish containing colophony?


Colophony (abietic acid) is derived from pine trees. It contains a mixture of over 100 compounds. It is clearly a common cause of contact dermatitis, and also can cause occupational asthma as it is a known allergen. In addition, there are both warnings of cross-reactivity in lay entries on websites and reports to the FDA of reactions possibly due to cross-reactivity.

Based on this limited amount of information, one cannot rule out with certainty a possible contact dermatitis reaction due to a cross-reaction between pine nuts and colophony, but such situations must be rare since I have not found any definite reports in the medical literature of this occurring. However, since such cross-reactivity cannot be ruled out completely, the safest procedure would be to avoid colophony in a patient with known sensitivity to pine nuts if possible.

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

Phil Lieberman, M.D.

Close-up of pine tree branches in Winter Close-up of pine tree branches in Winter