Common Allergens Identified Based on Patch Test Results in Patients with Suspected Contact Dermatitis of the Scalp

Nouf M. Aleid, Raymond Fertig, Austin Maddy, Antonella Tosti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Contact dermatitis of the scalp is common and might be caused by many chemicals including metals, ingredients of shampoos and conditioners, dyes, or other hair treatments. Eliciting a careful history and patch tests are necessary to identify the responsible allergen and prevent relapses. Objectives: To identify allergens that may cause contact dermatitis of the scalp by reviewing patch test results. Methods: We reviewed the records of 1,015 patients referred for patch testing at the Dermatology Department of the University of Miami. A total of 226 patients (205 females and 21 males) with suspected scalp contact dermatitis were identified, and the patch test results and clinical data for those patients were analyzed. Most patients were referred for patch testing from a specialized hair clinic at our institution. Results: The most common allergens in our study population were nickel (23.8%), cobalt (21.0%), balsam of Peru (18.2%), fragrance mix (14.4%), carba mix (11.6%), and propylene glycol (PG) (8.8%). The majority of patients were females aged 40-59 years, and scalp itching or burning were reported as the most common symptom. Conclusion: Frequent sources of allergens for metals include hair clasps, pins, and brushes, while frequent sources of allergens for preservatives, fragrance mix, and balsam of Peru include shampoos, conditioners, and hair gels. Frequent sources of allergens for PG include topical medications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-14
Number of pages8
JournalSkin Appendage Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Androgenetic alopecia
  • Balsam of Peru
  • Carba mix
  • Cobalt
  • Fragrances
  • Nickel
  • Propylene glycol
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Telogen effluvium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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