Propylene Glycol

An Often Unrecognized Cause of Allergic Contact Dermatitis in Patients Using Topical Corticosteroids

Mohammed Al Jasser, MD; Nino Mebuke; Gillian de Gannes, MD, FRCPC


Skin Therapy Letter. 2011;16(5) 

In This Article


PG is found in many products. The sensitizing potential of PG is well documented, but the true incidence of its role in ACD is unknown. PG is the most common allergen in topical CS. Cosensitization to PG and topical CS is possible. If patch testing is unavailable and the physician is highly suspecting PG allergy, we recommend prescribing any PG-free topical corticosteroid. Another option is to consider tacrolimus ointment, which is a PG-free steroid-sparing agent (pimecrolimus 1% cream contains PG). Empirically, one can prescribe a PG-free class C topical corticosteroid given the rarity of ACD to class C topical CS. Ideally, patch testing should be done if the clinical picture is suggestive of allergy to PG and/or topical CS. It is important to note that the steroid formulations discussed in this paper pertain only to topical CS products available in Canada, as products from other countries may contain different compositions of non-medicinal ingredients. We hope that this review will be of benefit in guiding physicians when choosing the appropriate topical corticosteroid in patients allergic to PG.


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