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[Protein contact dermatitis: review of 27 cases].

BACKGROUND: Protein contact dermatitis (PCD) is a rare and underdiagnosed condition that many dermatologists fail to recognize. Nevertheless, increasing awareness of the condition and the substances responsible has led to a rise in the number of published cases in recent years.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the clinical characteristics and allergens implicated in PCD in our setting.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: A retrospective observational study of all patients diagnosed with PCD in the last 10 years was undertaken in the Skin Allergies Unit of the Department of Dermatology at Hospital General Universitario in Valencia, Spain. All patients were assessed by skin-prick test with the standard GEIDAC allergen panel and by prick-by-prick test with foods or other products that were linked to immediate skin symptoms following handling.

RESULTS: Twenty-seven patients (8 men and 19 women) were diagnosed with PCD, and 26 of the cases were occupational in origin. The mean age of the patients was 32.3 years and 51.8% had a history of atopy. The latency period varied from 2 months to 27 years. The most commonly affected areas were the backs of the hands and the forearms. Four patients had an oral allergy syndrome. In order of frequency, the substances responsible for PCD were fish (9 patients, 33.3%), latex (8 patients, 29.6%), potato (4 patients, 14.8%), chicken (3 patients, 11.1%), flour (3 patients, 11.1%), alpha amylase (2 patients, 7.4%), aubergine (2 patients, 7.4%), pork (1 patient, 3.7%), garlic (1 patient, 3.7%), and Anisakis (1 patient, 3.7%).

CONCLUSIONS: PCD is a clinically relevant condition that dermatologists should include in the differential diagnosis of chronic dermatitis affecting the hands or forearms in patients at high occupational risk, particular those in the food preparation industry.

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