Allergic contact dermatitis in children: should pattern of dermatitis determine referral? A retrospective study of 500 children tested between 1995 and 2004 in one U.K. centre

T H Clayton, S M Wilkinson, C Rawcliffe, B Pollock, S M Clark
British Journal of Dermatology 2006, 154 (1): 114-7

BACKGROUND: Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) increases with age, and a prevalence of between 13.3% and 24.5% has been reported. Patch testing infants may be particularly difficult, and false-positive reactions may occur.

OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this retrospective study was to determine whether the site of primary dermatitis in children could predict a diagnosis of ACD. The current frequency of sensitization in children was also evaluated and the main sensitizing substances among children were verified.

METHODS: Between 1995 and 2004, 500 children were patch tested and entered on to the patch test database at Leeds General Infirmary. Analysis of the database included identifying the presenting patterns of eczema and reviewing the patch test results for each child.

RESULTS: Of the children, 133 (27%) had one or more positive patch test result. The effect of age on the likelihood of a positive patch test was highly significant (P < 0.001). Girls were significantly more likely to have a positive patch test compared with boys: odds ratio for a positive test 0.62 (95% confidence interval 0.41-0.95; P = 0.029). Type IV allergy to nickel (33%) was the most frequent finding. Reactions to fragrance mix (18%), cobalt (11%), mercapto chemicals, Myroxylon pereirae and p-phenylenediamine (each 8%) were the next most common. No statistical significance was found in the relationship between the site of primary dermatosis and a positive patch test result.

CONCLUSIONS: The pattern of presenting dermatitis in children should not determine referral for patch testing. Any child with persistent eczema should be referred for patch testing.

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