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The authors evaluated 74 unique, over-the-counter products with a label claiming to treat eczema. The ingredient lists were cross-referenced with the North American Contact Dermatitis Group allergen series. At least one potential allergen was present in 83%, 66% contained more than two allergens, and 16% contained more than five allergens. Just 12 products had no allergens. The most prevalent potential allergens were fragrance, Compositae, and tocopherol.
Clinicians should be aware that many products labeled for eczema contain potential allergens, particularly fragrance and Compositae. Patients with treatment-refractory eczema may benefit from patch testing.
Clinicians routinely recommend that eczema patients choose skin care products free of common sensitizers, to avoid allergic contact dermatitis (ACD).1,2 Previous studies have evaluated products labeled as “hypoallergenic” or “fragrance-free,” and discovered that such marketing claims lack regulation and are unhelpful in determining hypoallergenicity.2,3 However, over-the-counter products claiming to treat eczema have not been studied. These are classified as drugs rather than cosmetics; thus, they are subject to oversight by the Food and Drug Administration and must 1) demonstrate safety and efficacy, or 2) contain colloidal oatmeal or hydrocortisone 0.25-1%, which are deemed generally recognized as safe and effective for eczema.4 Herein, we evaluated the allergen content in products labeled specifically for eczema.