Lanolin Allergy: History, Epidemiology, Responsible Allergens, and Management

Bailey Lee; Erin Warshaw


Dermatitis. 2008;19(2):63-72. 

In This Article

Risk Groups

Patients with chronic dermatitis, especially lower-extremity venous stasis dermatitis, have been identified as a high-risk population for the development of contact dermatitis from lanolin (see Table 4 ). A study evaluating contact dermatitis in atopic patients reported that in 80 men and 153 women, 1% of both groups had positive reactions to 30% wool alcohols. In contrast, the same study looked at 302 subjects (number by gender not reported) with stasis dermatitis and reported that 11% of men and 20% of women reacted to wool alcohols 30% pet.[37] Wilson and colleagues tested 81 patients with active leg eczema with a number of different common sensitizers and found that wool alcohols (concentration not reported) were the most common allergens. Of the 81 patients, 24 (29.6%) reacted to lanolin, 19 reacted to wool alcohols, 12 reacted to AL-101, 5 reacted to Eucerin, and 12 reacted to some combination of the aforementioned products.[38] Other authors have reported rates that are more conservative; these include a 6.0% rate found in the aforementioned large retrospective study by Wakelin and colleagues.[35] Machet and colleagues looked at a smaller group of 106 patients with leg ulcers in Europe and found that 21% were sensitive to lanolin.[39] Gallenkemper and colleagues evaluated 36 patients with chronic venous insufficiency and found that 33% were sensitive to wool alcohols (30% pet) whereas 19% had positive reactions to AL-101 (see Table 3 ).[40]


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