British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)

Benzalkonium chloride

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 benzalkonium chloride.

What is benzalkonium chloride?

Benzalkonium chloride is a preservative.

What are some products that contain benzalkonium chloride?

  • Skin cleansers
  • Cosmetics
  • Mouthwashes
  • Shampoos
  • Antiseptic lozenges
  • Used to sterilize medical and dental instruments
  • Eye drop, ear drops, contact lens solutions and nasal sprays
  • It can be used in the agricultural, textile and metallurgic industries
  • It has been used in ‘Plaster of Paris’ fracture casts.


  • Dermol cream® (emollient)
  • Dermol wash®, Dermol 200®, Dermol 500 ®, Dermol 600 ® (emollient washes)
  • Oilatum plus ® (bath additive)
  • Emulsiderm ® (bath additive)
  • Zerolatum plus ® (bath additive)
  • Dermax® shampoo
  • Conotrane ® cream (barrier preparation)
  • Drapolene® cream (barrier preparation)
  • Timodine® cream (mild topical steroid/antiseptic cream)
  • Dettol ® antiseptic wash spray.

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 benzalkonium chloride onto your skin in the future.

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