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Contact allergy to octyl glucoside

Authors: Sabrina Sapsford, Resident Medical Officer, Waitemata DHB; Harriet Cheng, Consultant Dermatologist, Auckland DHB, New Zealand. Copy edited by Gus Mitchell. May 2022


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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.

 

Bibliography

  • Bhoyrul B, Solman L, Kirk S, Orton D, Wilkinson M. Patch testing with alkyl glucosides: Concomitant reactions are common but not ubiquitous. Contact Dermatitis. 2019;80(5):286–290. doi:10.1111. Journal
  • Fiume MM, Heldreth B, Bergfeld WF, et al. Safety assessment of decyl glucoside and other alkyl glucosides as used in cosmetics. Int J Toxicol. 2013;32(5 Suppl):22S–48S. doi:10.1177. Journal
  • Lee EB, Lobl M, Ford A, DeLeo V, Adler BL, Wysong A. What Is New in Occupational Allergic Contact Dermatitis in the Year of the COVID Pandemic?. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2021;21(4):26. Published 2021 Mar 29. doi:10.1007. Journal
  • Severin RK, Belsito DV. Patch Testing with Decyl and Lauryl Glucoside: How Well Does One Screen for Contact Allergic Reactions to the Other?. Dermatitis. 2017;28(6):342–5. doi:10.1097. Journal
  • Uter W, Werfel T, Lepoittevin JP, White IR. Contact Allergy-Emerging Allergens and Public Health Impact. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(7):2404. Published 2020 Apr 1. doi:10.3390. PubMed

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