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 ethylenediamine.

What is ethylenediamine?

Ethylenediamine is no longer in any prescribed creams or ointments in the UK however you may still come across it in the workplace. There are still some industrial uses.

What are some products that contain ethylenediamine?

  • Floor polish removers
  • Antifreezes
  • Epoxy resin hardeners
  • Coolant oils
  • Fungicides and insecticides

Ethylenediamine is closely related to some of the following types of chemicals which also need to be avoided:

Chemical/drugBrand nameType of chemical/drug
Aminophylline injectionn/aTreatment for severe asthma
HydroxyzineAtarax, UceraxAntihistamine
PiperazinePripsenTreatment for threadworm
AntazolineOtrivineAntistinEye drops
EDTAn/aPreservative in some cosmetics

The following antihistamines are safe to use:


AntihistamineTrade name



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 ethylenediamine 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: 2016