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Allergic contact dermatitis (pediatric) in Child
See also in: Anogenital
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Allergic contact dermatitis (pediatric) in Child

See also in: Anogenital
Contributors: Vivian Wong MD, PhD, Nnenna Agim MD, FAAD, Craig N. Burkhart MD, Dean Morrell MD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


This summary discusses pediatric patients. Allergic contact dermatitis in adults is addressed separately.

Contact dermatitis can be due to either allergic or irritant causes. Irritant contact dermatitis is due to nonimmunologic local exposure of the skin to an irritating substance. Allergic contact dermatitis is a cutaneous inflammatory process (type IV cell-mediated or delayed hypersensitivity reaction) localized to areas where allergens contact the skin. Initial sensitization and development of cutaneous inflammation takes 1-4 weeks; however, repeat exposure produces reactions within 48 hours.

In children, allergic contact dermatitis is more common after the age of 5 years, but younger children can become sensitized. The incidence and prevalence of contact dermatitis has increased steadily over the decades; an estimated 4.4 million children are affected in the United States. This figure reflects those presenting for evaluation; many more affected children may remain undiagnosed.

The most common contact allergens in children are:
  • Fragrance (eg, balsam of Peru [Myroxylon balsamum var pereirae]) and preservatives (eg, formaldehyde, quaternium-15, methylchloroisothiazolinone / methylisothiazolinone) – contained in cosmetic and personal care products for the child and parent, toys, glue, perfume, slime, household cleaning products, laundry detergents
  • Nickel – jewelry, food, toys, clothing, snaps on clothing, electronics
  • Cobalt – metal-plated products, crayons, deodorant (see also cobalt toxicity)
  • Dichromate – leather products (eg, straps, shoes)
  • Neomycin and bacitracin – topical antibiotics
  • Oxybenzone – sunscreens
  • Lanolin (Amerchol L101), propylene glycol, cocamidopropyl betaine – emollients and surfactants found in baby soap, shampoo, moisturizer, lip balm, cosmetics, packaged foods, cleaning products
Thimerosal is no longer considered a relevant allergen (formerly used in ophthalmic preparations and vaccines).

American Contact Dermatitis Society Allergen of the Year:
  • 2020 – Isobornyl acrylate, an acrylic monomer often used as an adhesive in medical devices. There have been multiple case reports of diabetes patients developing contact allergies to their insulin pumps. Clinician awareness is important because testing using routine panels does not identify isobornyl acrylate.
  • 2021 – Acetophenone azine, thought to be formed in situ through reactions between ethyl vinyl acetate, which is present in foams used for cushioning in shin pads and footwear, and other additives. Reactions have been noted mostly in children and teens ("soccer shin" contact dermatitis).
Related topic: diaper (or training pant) irritant contact dermatitis


L23.9 – Allergic contact dermatitis, unspecified cause

238575004 – Allergic contact dermatitis

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Last Reviewed:08/03/2021
Last Updated:03/31/2024
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Patient Information for Allergic contact dermatitis (pediatric) in Child
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Allergic contact dermatitis (pediatric) in Child
See also in: Anogenital
A medical illustration showing key findings of Allergic contact dermatitis (pediatric) : Erythema, Vesicle, Pruritus, Developed acutely
Irritant or Object image of Allergic contact dermatitis (pediatric) - imageId=100963. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'A scaly, hyperpigmented plaque developing on the wrist under a watch, secondary to allergic contact dermatitis to nickel.'
A scaly, hyperpigmented plaque developing on the wrist under a watch, secondary to allergic contact dermatitis to nickel.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.