Allergic Contact Dermatitis: Topical Preservatives, Part I

J. Desiree Douglas


Dermatology Nursing 

In This Article

2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 Diol

Synonyms for 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1,3 Diol

  • Bronopol

  • Lexgard bronopol

  • Onyxide 500

  • 1,3-propanediol-2-bromo-2-nitro

  • Myacide BT

Bronopol affected 3.4% of patch test patients in 2005–2006 (Zug et al., 2009). This preservative has activity against gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa. It also covers some yeasts and fungi (Maier et al., 2009; Marks et al., 2002). Eucerin® moisturizer contained this preservative in the past and consequently, cases of dermatitis caused by bronopol were more common before it was replaced with a different preservative (Frosch et al., 2006; Rietschel & Fowler, 2008).

Bronopol is slowly broken down into formaldehyde as time passes; therefore, as the product gets older, the formaldehyde levels continue to increase (Sasseville, 2004). ACD caused by bronopol is more common in certain occupations such as hair stylists, janitorial services, farmers, painters, and printers. Furthermore, machinists dealing with cutting fluids and spin oil, paper mill workers in contact with slimicides, and textile workers who dye fabrics are at increased risk (Maier et al., 2009). Cutting fluids may induce more allergies because they have a higher pH, which increases the release of formaldehyde (Maier et al., 2009). Bronopol can also cause irritant contact dermatitis (Rietschel & Fowler, 2008).

Sources of 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3 diol (Maier et al., 2009; Marks et al., 2002; Rietschel & Fowler, 2008).

  • Shampoos, hair conditioners, soaps, and moisturizers.

  • Cosmetics: makeup bases, blush, eyebrow pencils, and mascara.

  • Cleansing lotions, moist towelettes, and baby wipes.

  • Washing detergents and fabric conditioners.

  • Topical medications.

  • Textiles, paints, humidifiers, adhesives, paper, and pesticides.

  • Water cooling towers.

  • Preservatives for milk samples.