British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)

Propylene glycol

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 propylene glycol.

What is propylene glycol?

Propylene glycol is a chemical used in many different settings, both in products applied to the skin but also in tablets and some foods.

What are some products that contain propylene glycol?

  • Cosmetic creams/ointments and other personal care products such as wipes/ shampoos/ body washes
  • Prescription creams/ointments such as topical steroids, moisturizers, antibiotic creams, antifungal creams, acne creams, psoriasis creams
  • Some ears drops, nose drops, nose sprays
  • Some cooling fluids used in industry
  • Many e-cigarette/ vaping solutions
  • Some tablets
  • Some wound dressings eg hydrogel, intrasite
  • Some foods such as salad dressings and sauces as a thickener/ sweetener.


  • Aripro
  • Balneum cream
  • Balneum bath oil
  • Balneum plus oil
  • Nutraplus
  • Oilatum cream
  • Sudocrem
  • Unguentum M
  • Zeroguent
  • Zeroneum.

Topical steroids

  • Bettamousse
  • Clarelux
  • Clobaderm cream/ ointment
  • Cutivate cream/ ointment
  • Dermacort cream
  • Dermovate cream/ ointment
  • Dioderm cream
  • Elocon oint/ scalp app
  • Eurax-HC cream
  • Haelan cream
  • Locoid crelo
  • Lotriderm cream
  • Metosyn FAPG cream/ ointment
  • Synalar cream/ ointment/ gel.

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 propylene glycol onto your skin in the future.

The usual problem with propylene glycol allergy is with itchy skin at the site of contact with a substance containing this chemical. It is unlikely to cause any worrying problems if you eat something that contains propylene glycol, however potentially it could cause a flare of eczema/ itchy skin.

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