British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)

BHA (butyl hydroxanisole)

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 BHA (butyl hydroxyanisole).

What is BHA (butyl hydroxyanisole)?

It is an antioxidant generally found in fatty products to prevent fats becoming rancid.

What are some products that contain BHA (butyl hydroxyanisole)?

  • Foods (E320) particularly gums, ice cream, sweeteners, raising agents
  • Cosmetics especially lipsticks and eyeshadows
  • Medicated creams including Fucidin cream, Fucidin H cream, Daktacort Hydrocortisone cream, Pevaryl topical cream and Zorac gel
  • Animal Feeds
  • Petroleum based products including rubbers, fuels, gloves and plastics
  • Some drugs including atorvastatin, simvastatin, propranolol oral solutions and Indocid suppositories
  • Fast food outlets. Workers who cook or serve up fried food for example deep fried chips/ fish may be exposed to 2-tert-butylhydroquinone methyl ether.

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 BHA (butyl hydroxyanisole) onto your skin in the future.

It is also known as butyl hydroxyanisole, BHA, 2-tert-butyl-4-methoxyphenol and, when added to foods, as E320.

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