Contact allergy in chronic eczematous lip dermatitis

Donatella Schena, Francesca Fantuzzi, Giampiero Girolomoni
European Journal of Dermatology: EJD 2008, 18 (6): 688-92
Chronic eczematous cheilitis comprises a heterogeneous group of disorders, the cause of which often remains obscure. Our object was to investigate the frequency of contact allergy in a cohort of patients with chronic eczematous cheilitis attending a tertiary referral clinic. Patients (106 females and 23 males) with chronic eczematous cheilitis were analyzed retrospectively. All patients were tested with a standard patch test series and a fraction with a dedicated patch test series. Children were also tested with atopy patch tests. Moreover, all patients were investigated for past or current presence of atopic diseases. Patch-test reactions of possible or probable relevance were detected in 84 patients (65.1%; 72 females; median age 40), of uncertain or not relevant significance in 26 (20.1%) and negative in 19 (14.7%). An extended series was necessary to reveal hapten hypersensitivity in 42 patients. The most frequent causes of allergic cheilitis were nickel, fragrances, balsam of Peru, chromium salts and manganese salts, present primarily in cosmetics, dental materials and oral hygiene products. Twenty four patients (18 females; median age 21; 18.6%) were diagnosed as having atopic dermatitis of the lips. Four children had allergic contact cheilitis to haptens or food allergens, whereas six had atopic cheilitis. Twenty one cases (16.3%) were considered irritant contact cheilitis. Allergic contact cheilitis is common in adult patients, with the haptens responsible varying with age. Patients with chronic eczematous cheilitis should undergo extended patch testing.

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