Causative exposures and temporal development of cobalt allergy in Denmark between 2002 and 2017

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Background: Cobalt contact allergy is common, but clinical relevance is often difficult to determine. Objectives: To examine the aetiology, prevalence and clinical characteristics of cobalt-allergic patients who were patch tested between 2002 and 2017 at the Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Herlev-Gentofte Hospital. Methods: Patch test data, along with patient characteristics and causative exposures, from all adult dermatitis patients seen and tested between 2002 and 2017 were analysed. Associations were tested with the χ2 test and logistic regression. Results: A total of 13 475 adults aged 18 to 99 years were patch tested. The overall prevalence of cobalt allergy and the prevalence of isolated cobalt allergy were 3.3% and 1.5%, respectively. The prevalence of isolated cobalt allergy decreased from 2.4% in 2006 to 2009 to 1.1% in 2014 to 2017 (Ptrend = 0.00003). Leather exposure as a relevant cause of allergic cobalt dermatitis increased from 3.7% in 2002 to 2009 to 8.3% in 2010 to 2017 (P = 0.04). The current clinical relevance of positive patch test reactions, that is, a positive reaction to cobalt combined with a history of current skin exposure to a source of cobalt, was 20.1%. Conclusions: We conclude that cobalt allergy is relatively common, but causative exposures are largely unknown, and the proportion of positive patch test reactions with clinical relevance is low. It is therefore currently unclear how we can better protect consumers and workers from cobalt exposure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)242-248
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • cobalt, contact allergy, exposure, leather, prevalence, relevance, trend

ID: 236216504