British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)

Cetearyl alcohol

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 cetearyl alcohol.

What is cetearyl alcohol?

Cetearyl alcohol is a wax found in many moisturisers, steroid creams and other treatment creams. It may also be found in a few ointments and lotions.

What are some products that contain cetearyl alcohol?

  • Moisturisers and barrier creams
  • Steroid creams
  • Hair conditioners
  • Sunscreens
  • Antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral creams, psoriasis creams.

Steroid and treatment creams

  • Eumovate cream
  • Betnovate cream and lotion, Betnovate RD, Fucibet
  • Dermovate cream
  • Cutivate cream
  • Timodine
  • Trimovate
  • Lamisil, Canesten, Canesten HC
  • Elidel
  • Sebco
  • Dithrocream
  • Zovirax
  • Fucidin
  • Fucidin H.


  • Aqueous cream
  • Cetraben cream, lotion and ointment
  • Aveeno cream and lotion
  • Epaderm cream and ointment
  • E45
  • Diprobase cream
  • Sudocrem
  • Hydromol cream and ointmen
  • Dermol lotion, cream
  • Emulsifying ointment.

It is safe to use these moisturisers and steroids:

  • Eumovate
  • Betnovate and Dermovate ointments
  • Synalar gel
  • Daktacort
  • Nerisone Forte oily cream and ointment
  • Doublebase gel
  • Diprobase ointment
  • Calmurid
  • Hydromol intensive.

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 cetearyl alcohol onto your skin in the future.

Cetyl alcohol and stearyl alcohol should also be avoided.

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: 2015