What is octyl glucoside?
Octyl glucoside is an alkyl glucoside primarily used as a surfactant (foaming agent) in cosmetics and household products. This chemical is relatively new to the approved list of cosmetic and household glucosides and diagnosis of contact allergy to octyl glucoside is increasing.
Octyl glucoside and other glucosides may be present in wash-off products such as shampoos and shower gels, as well as leave-on products such as sunscreens, moisturisers, and deodorants. Alkyl glucosides may also be found in wound care products posing an issue for surgical patients postoperatively.
Who gets contact allergy to octyl glucoside?
Contact allergic dermatitis usually results from exposure to cosmetic, personal care, and skin-care products which contain octyl glucoside. Those with other contact allergies and atopic dermatitis (eczema) may be at increased risk.
Some occupations lead to increased exposure and risk of allergy including dishwashing and hairdressing.
How is contact allergy diagnosed?
Contact allergy is diagnosed by a dermatologist with patch testing. During the test, dilute allergens are placed on the skin for two days. At subsequent appointments, a specialist examines the skin and grades the level of reaction.
What is the patch testing concentration and vehicle for octyl glucoside?
The patch testing concentration of alkyl glucosides is 5% in petrolatum. It is useful to note that allergy to one alkyl glucoside may overlap with others, but this is not always the case; therefore, they do need to be tested separately in a cosmetics series if suspected.
How is contact allergy to octyl glucoside treated?
The main treatment of contact allergy such as this is to avoid the allergen. Individual constituent labelling of personal care products may help identify suspect products. Because octyl glucoside is synthesized from natural products, using products labeled ‘natural’ or ‘ecologically derived’ will not prevent development of octyl glucoside contact allergy if it is present.
For more information on specific treatment of any resultant dermatitis, see Allergic contact dermatitis.