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Benzyl alcohol is a widely used preservative, solvent and fragrance material. According to published data, it is a rare sensitizer in humans. To identify characteristics and sensitization patterns of patients with positive patch test reactions to benzyl alcohol and to check the reliability of the patch test preparation benzyl alcohol 1% pet. Retrospective analysis of data from the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology (IVDK), 2010-2019. Of 70 867 patients patch tested with benzyl alcohol 1% pet., 146 (0.21%) showed a positive reaction, most of them (89%) only weakly positive. The number of doubtful and irritant reactions significantly exceeded the number of positive reactions. Reproducibility of positive test reactions was low. Among benzyl alcohol-positive patients, compared to benzyl alcohol-negative patients, there were significantly more patients with leg dermatitis (17.8% vs. 8.6%), more patients aged 40 years or more (81.5% vs. 70.5%) and more patients who were tested because of a suspected intolerance reaction to topical medications (34.9% vs. 16.6%). Concomitant positive reactions were mainly seen to fragrances, preservatives and ointment bases. Sensitization to benzyl alcohol occurs very rarely, mainly in patients with stasis dermatitis. In view of our results, benzyl alcohol cannot be regarded as a significant contact allergen, and therefore marking it as skin sensitizer 1B and labelling it with H 317 is not helpful. © 2022 The Authors. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.


J Geier, B Ballmer-Weber, T Buhl, J Rieker-Schwienbacher, V Mahler, H Dickel, S Schubert, IVDK. Is benzyl alcohol a significant contact sensitizer? Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV. 2022 Jun;36(6):866-872

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PMID: 35080274

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