Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Propolis

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


Dermatitis. 2005;16(4):209-215. 

In This Article

Patch Testing

Propolis is now part of the European Standard patch test series, having been incorporated over a period of 3 years (1988 to 1990).[9] Propolis is generally patch-tested and is commercially available in a 10% concentration in petrolatum.[84,85] However, in some countries (such as Italy), it is routinely tested at a 20% concentration.[53,86–90] Several studies found that a 20% concentration did not provoke irritation.[86–90] In their study, Hausen and colleagues also found that the threshold of irritation for propolis was higher than 20% and that the threshold for LB-1 was between 3% and 10%.[11] Despite these findings, the generally recommended patch-test concentration is 10%. 3-Methyl-2-butenyl caffeate, the strongest sensitizing component of LB-1 in propolis, cannot be used for patch tests at this time because it has been impossible to reproduce it synthetically.[9]

Management of propolis allergy is avoidance of the allergen. Synonyms for propolis include bee glue, bee bread, hive doss, propolis balsam, propolis resin, and propolis wax.[12] Patients should also be counseled to exercise caution when using products containing beeswax because it may be contaminated with propolis. The American Contact Dermatitis Society Web site's Contact Allergen Replacement Database eliminates 771 cross-reacting substances, regardless of whether the terms "bee glue," "beeswax," or "propolis" are entered.[91]