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In Europe, contact photosensitivity to phenothiazines is well-known, particularly in southern countries. Topical phenothiazines are widely used and sold over-the-counter (OTC) for the treatment of mosquito bites and pruritus in France. To report a series of cases with photodermatitis following use of topical phenothiazines. A retrospective study of cases of contact dermatitis from phenothiazines seen in French photodermatology centers was performed. In all, 14 patients with a diagnosis of contact dermatitis from phenothiazines were included. These patients developed eczema on the application sites, and in 13 the eruption spread to photodistributed sites. Topical products containing isothipendyl were the most common cause of photodermatitis. One patient had photoaggravated eczema due to promethazine cream. All patients stopped using topical phenothiazines and were treated successfully with topical corticosteroids. One patient relapsed and developed persistent light eruption. In all of the nine cases tested, photopatch testing to the topical phenothiazine used "as is" was positive. Isothipendyl, chlorproethazine, and the excipients were not tested. Photopatch tests to chlorpromazine and promethazine were positive in 8 of 12 and 7 of 13 tested, respectively. Use of isothipendyl and promethazine as OTC (or even prescribed) drugs needs to be limited due to severe reactions and sensitization to other phenothiazines that consequently will have to be avoided. © 2020 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Claire Cariou, Catherine Droitcourt, Marie Noelle Osmont, Marie Claude Marguery, Hervé Dutartre, Juliette Delaunay, Martine Avenel-Audran, Alain Dupuy, Henri Adamski. Photodermatitis from topical phenothiazines: A case series. Contact dermatitis. 2020 Jul;83(1):19-24

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PMID: 32124458

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