Etiology and diagnostics of allergic contact dermatitis. Literature overview

Gintarė Jonikaitė1, Augustina Kraujutaitytė1

 1Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. Academy of Medicine. Faculty of Medicine.


Allergic contact dermatitis is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction in which a foreign substance comes into contact with the skin; skin changes occur after reexposure to the substance. Every day we are surrounded by many potential contact allergens: widely used cosmetics, jewelry, fragrances, preservatives, chemicals, plants and more. Contact allergy is common, affecting 27% of the general population in Europe and most often to nickel. Prevalence in different regions of the world is different and changes due to cultural variations, industrial progress. This disease significantly worsens the quality of life and work activity, especially when face and hands are affected. When diagnosing the disease, it is very important to evaluate the patient’s anamnestic data about his daily activities, the possible allergens he is experiencing in work. The most common clinical manifestations are papules, bullae, erythema, vesicles, infiltration; chronic cases may involve lichen with cracks and fissures. Contact allergy is incurable, so identifying and removing allergens is a major disease control task. Allergen patch tests are used to detect allergens when a patient is suspected of having allergic contact dermatitis. This is the most reliable and safest method of research. Closed patch testing involves the application of allergens under occlusion to the skin of the upper aspect of the back for a period of 2 days. Readings are generally performed at that time, with additional delayed readings. Currently Lithuania uses the European baseline patch test series set of allergens, created by the European Society of Contact Dermatitis, which was supplemented in 2017 and consists of 38 substances.

In this article we reviewed the latest scientific literature on the most common contact allergens that cause allergic contact dermatitis, its prevalence, pathogenesis and diagnosis of a chronic hypersensitivity reaction.


Keywords: allergic contact dermatitis; contact allergy; allergen patch test.