Background: Chronic paronychia is a condition that is pathologically characterized by spongiotic inflammation; it can be exacerbated by various and concomitant factors. Objective: The aim of this study was to assess whether chronic paronychia in food handlers may have clinical, pathologic, and immunohistochemical similarities with immediate contact dermatitis caused by foods. Methods: Twenty food handlers affected by chronic paronychia were submitted to patch tests with the fresh foods that were suspected of being the cause of the dermatitis. Results: Nine patients had a positive reaction to a 20-minute open patch test with fresh foods applied on the proximal nailfold. In two patients the pathologic study of the positive open patch test site showed acanthosis, exocytosis, and spongiosis of the epidermis and the presence of an inflammatory lymphocytic infiltrate in the dermis. Conclusion: Our results confirm the view that an immediate hypersensitivity reaction to foods can be responsible for some cases of chronic paronychia in food handlers.
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