Topical Sensitizers in Alopecia Areata

Amy J. McMichael; Robert L. Henderson, Jr.


Dermatology Nursing. 2004;16(4) 

In This Article

Selecting a Sensitizer

DNCB was the earliest used topical sensitizer. However, it is mutagenic in the Ames test (Kratka, Goerz, & Vizethum, 1979; Summer & Goggelmann, 1980). Though no evidence of carcinogenicity has been demonstrated in treated patients, many now avoid its use for contact sensitivity.

SADBE, in contrast, is not mutagenic by the Ames test nor has cell transformation been demonstrated in vitro. When the mutagenic potential for DNCB became known, SADBE became the great hope and is currently the most used sensitizer in the United States. However, it is unstable in the acetone solutions in which it is prepared and requires refrigeration to maintain potency. Additionally, it is the most expensive topical sensitizer.

DPCP, likewise, is not mutagenic and is preferred in the United Kingdom and Canada. It is not expensive and comes in UV opaque bottles with a shelf-life of approximately 6 months.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: