Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Propolis

Susan E. Walgrave; Erin M. Warshaw; Lynn A. Glesne


Dermatitis. 2005;16(4):209-215. 

In This Article

Type I Immunoglobulin E–Mediated Reactions to Propolis

Although type IV reactions are more prevalent, there have been several case reports of type I immediate hypersensitivity to propolis.[76,77]

Hsu and colleagues described a 48-year-old man with cardiac arrest secondary to respiratory distress. The patient had applied topical propolis for the treatment of acute pharyngitis and developed dysphagia and drooling 6 hours after use. Respiratory distress ensued, with resultant hypoxia and shock. The patient eventually died from complications of repeated ventilator-associated pneumonias and sepsis. Although formal testing was not performed, propolis was thought to be responsible because of the temporal proximity of the symptoms to propolis use and because no other possible causes were identified.[76]

Callejo and colleagues described a beekeeper's 10-year-old son who for years had had a history of angioedema associated with the manipulation of beehive products. Despite a history of tolerance to bee stings, he developed an immediate systemic reaction (with urticaria, angioedema, severe hypotension, and fecal and urinary incontinence) within 5 minutes of being stung by a honeybee. Skin-prick test results were positive for propolis but negative for beeswax and honey. The result of a propolis-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) radioallergosorbent test (RAST) was also positive in this patient, indicating an adverse IgE-mediated reaction to propolis.[77]