British Society of Cutaneous Allergy (BCSA)

Sorbitan Sesquioleate

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 sorbitan sesquioleate.

What is sorbitan sesquioleate?

Sorbitan sesquioleate is related to the chemical sorbitol and is used as an emulsifier in cosmetic and medical ointments and creams.

What are some products that contain sorbitan sesquioleate?

  • cosmetic creams/ ointments and other personal care products such as wipes/ shampoos/ body washes
  • prescription creams/ ointments such as steroids; it is found in clobaderm ointment; cultivate ointment; dermovate ointment, haelan ointment.

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 sorbitan sesquioleate onto your skin in the future.

Its other names are sorbitan monooleate and Span 80.

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