Allergic Contact Dermatitis from Carmine in Cosmetic Blush

Kayoko Suzuki; Keiko Hirokawa; Akiko Yagami; Kayoko Matsunaga


Dermatitis. 2011;22(06):348-349. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Although there are many reported cases of immediate allergy after ingestion of foods containing cochineal, there are few reports of allergic contact dermatitis from carmine. We present a rare case of allergic contact dermatitis due to carmine. A 52-year-old female presented with an itchy erythema on her cheeks at the site where blush had been applied. Patch-tested with her cosmetics, she showed a positive reaction to the blush (30% in petrolatum) and to 0.2% (but not 0.1%) carmine in petrolatum. In this case, the optimum patch-test concentration of carmine was 0.2% in petrolatum.


CARMINE is a natural red dye and is the aluminum lake of the pigment from cochineal (Fig 1). Carmine is obtained from the dried female cochineal insect Dactylopius coccus (or Coccus cacti). Carmine is an ancient textile and ornament dye and has also been widely used in foods, drinks, drugs, and cosmetics. Although immediate allergy due to carmine has been reported, reports of allergic contact dermatitis caused by carmine are rare. Here we describe a case of contact dermatitis caused by carmine in a cosmetic blush.

Figure 1.

Chemical structure of carmine. (CAS 5 Chemical Abstracts Service.)


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