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Allergen of the year may be nearer than you think

MONTEREY, CALIF.

– It’s only found in 2%-3% of allergy cases.

So why was propylene glycol (PG) declared the Allergen of the Year for 2018 by the North American Contact Dermatitis Society?

Because, a dermatologist told colleagues, it’s so common.

Dr. Joseph F. Fowler Jr. “If you’re allergic to it, it’s tough to stay away from it,” said Joseph F. Fowler Jr., MD, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Louisville (Ky.) in a presentation about contact dermatitis at the annual Coastal Dermatology Symposium.

Indeed, the synthetic compound PG is found in skin care products and cosmetics, coated pills, topical medications such as corticosteroids, foods (including bread, food coloring, and such flavorings as vanilla extracts).

“It’s in every topical acne product I know of,” and is even in brake fluid and so-called nontoxic antifreeze, he said.

(Propylene glycol shouldn’t be confused with the poisonous toxin ethylene glycol, which also is found in antifreeze.)

Patients can be tested for allergy to PG, Dr. Fowler pointed out, but it’s important to understand that it can trigger an irritation reaction that can be mistaken for an allergic reaction.

Related VIDEO: Parabens named ‘nonallergen’ of the year Dr. Fowler offered the following tips related to contact dermatitis and allergens.

Be aware that metals, topical antibiotics, fragrances, and preservatives are most likely to cause allergic contact dermatitis.

According to 2016 figures on allergen prevalence from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG), allergy to the metal nickel is the most common (16%); followed by neomycin (9%); fragrance mix I, a mixture of fragrances used in allergen testing (9%); bacitracin (8%); and myroxylon, also known as balsam of Peru, which is used for a variety of purposes in food, medicines, and fragrances (7%).

These are followed by the metal cobalt (6%); the preservatives quaternium 15

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