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 tocopherol.

What is tocopherol?

Tocopherol, also known as vitamin E, is a naturally occurring antioxidant and is widely used in cosmetics.

What are some products that contain tocopherol?

  • Moisturisers, lotions, creams
  • Hair care products, eg shampoo, conditioner
  • Sunscreens
  • Makeup, lipstick
  • Nail care products
  • Soaps, cleansers
  • Wipes
  • Perfumes and fragrances, deodorants/ antiperspirants
  • Eye care products.

Tocopherols can be found in sunflower oil, peanut butter, egg yolk and leafy vegetables, and their oral consumption as vitamin E is important nutritionally. Eating vitamin E/ tocopherols is very unlikely to cause a problem in patients who have reacted to tocopherol, so they do not need to be avoided in the diet.

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 tocopherol onto your skin in the future.

Tocopherol has several different forms and could be labelled as:

  • Tocopherol acetate
  • Tocopheryl linoleate
  • Tocopheryl nicotinate
  • Tocopheryl succinate
  • Dioleyl tocopheryl methylsilanol
  • Potassium ascorbyl tocopheryl phosphate
  • Tocophersolan.

See more information at:

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: 2023