British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)


What are the aims of this patient information leaflet?

This leaflet has been written to help you understand more about your contact allergy. It tells you what a contact allergy is, what causes this allergy and what you can do about it.

What is contact allergy?

Dermatitis, also known as eczema, describes a type of inflammation of the skin. Contact dermatitis or contact eczema is a term used when this inflammation is caused by direct or indirect skin contact with something in your environment. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your immune system causes allergy to a very specific chemical or substance that has been in contact with the skin.

What causes your specific allergy?

Your patch tests indicate that you have a contact allergy to acrylates.

What is acrylates?

Acrylates are widely used in dentistry, medicine and by beauticians. Other occupational sources include the printing industry and building trade. Most acrylates are used as plastics. These chemicals are made up of lots of smaller acrylic building blocks (monomers) which join together to form larger chains (polymers). This process is usually speeded up by heat, ultraviolet light or adding other chemicals. This is known as curing. When fully hardened (cured), the plastic is unlikely to cause problems. It is nearly always the smaller building block (monomer) that results in an allergic reaction. There are many different acrylate chemicals. You are very unlikely to be allergic to all, but may be allergic to several of them. It is not currently possible to test for all acrylates in use. Although acrylates are commonly used in cements for hip replacements and in white tooth fillings they are very unlikely to give any problems once they are hardened. These therefore do not need to be removed.

What are some products that contain acrylates?

Methacrylate resins may be found in:

  • Nail resins including nail gels, Shellac and acrylic nails
  • Dental products including white fillings (composite fillings) and dentures. However once the filling has set these products are very unlikely to cause a problem
  • Glues and adhesives including Loctite. These are used in industry for locking screws and for repairing windscreens
  • Bone cement used in operations such as hip replacements. This is more likely to cause a skin reaction in the health professional operating rather than the patient
  • Some sticky dressings, tapes, TENS and neurostimulator adhesive pads, glucose sensors and ECG pads
  • Sticky tapes to keep wigs in place
  • Pedometers
  • Printing industry in UV cured inks and glossy papers
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Building materials including some flooring adhesives, perspex blocks.

Cyanoacrylate resins may be fond in:

  • Glues used to stick artificial (false) nails
  • Glues for sticking false eyelashes
  • Surgical glue used instead of stitches on the skin
  • Superglues.

Acrylic copolymers

You will find acrylic copolymers in many personal care products including hair products. You do not need to avoid these, as they only very rarely cause a problem.

You are allergic to these acrylates: (mark)

  • 2-Hydroxyethyy methacrylate
  • Butyl acrylate
  • 2-Hydroxypropyl methacrylate
  • Ethyl methacrylate
  • Ethyl acrylate
  • N-Butyl methacrylate
  • Ethyleneglycol dimethacrylate
  • Triethyleneglycol dimethacrylate
  • Tetraethyleneglycol dimethacrylate
  • Trimethylol propane triacrylate
  • 2 Hydroxyethyl acrylate
  • Tetrahydrofurfuryl methacrylate
  • 1-6 Hexanediol diacrylate
  • Methyl methacrylate
  • Ethyl cyanoacrylate
  • Urethane dimethacrylate
  • Triethyleneglycol diacrylate
  • 1,4-Butanediol diacrylate
  • Diethyleneglycol diacrylate
  • 1-4 Butanediol dimethacrylate
  • Tripropyleneglycol diacrylate
  • BIS-MA
  • Pentaerythritol triacrylate
  • NN Dimethylaminoethyl methacrylate
  • Oligotriacrylate 480
  • 2-Ethylhexyl acrylate
  • Epoxy acrylate
  • 2-Hydroxypropyl acrylate
  • Urethane diacrylate (aliphatic)
  • 1,6 Hexanediol diacylate
  • Urethane diacrylate (aromatic)
  • N,N-Methylenebisacrylamide.

Remember, always check the label, these lists can never be complete and ingredients change.

How can I manage my allergy?

This means that you should avoid putting products containing acrylates onto your skin in the future.

Protect your hands.

Wear polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) gloves but change gloves frequently. If these are not available to you then nitrile gloves give better protection than latex and neoprene. Latex and neoprene will not give adequate protection against acrylates. Double gloving gives more protection than wearing just one glove. For industrial work 4H gloves give the best protection.

Self-care (what can I do?)

Always check the ingredient listing on the product, package or package insert as these lists can never be complete and ingredients change. This is particularly important for any products purchased outside the EU where some allergens may not be banned.

Created: 2017