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 triethanolamine.

What is triethanolamine?

Triethanolamine is an emulsifier which contains monoethanolamine and diethanolamine.

What are some products that contain triethanolamine?

  • Household detergents
  • Cosmetics and personal care products including foundations, blushers, shampoos, shaving gels, moisturising creams
  • Industrial uses such as in metal working fluids, corrosion inhibitors and colour film developers, water repellent fabric finishes
  • Ultrasound gels
  • Sunscreens
  • Medicaments including Boots chilblain cream, Bonjela junior gel, Lanacane cream, Psoriderm cream and bath emulsion
  • Therapeutic shampoos and scalp products such as Psoriderm scalp, Capasal therapeutic shampoo,
  • Moisturisers including Adex gel, Eurax cream, Doublebase Dayleve gel, Doublebase gel, Doublebase emollient shower gel, Vaseline intensive care
    advanced repair lotion
  • Creams for musculoskeletal pain such as ketoprofen 2.5% gel, Oruvail gel, Algesal
  • Hormone gels including Oestrogel, Sandrena gel, testosterone gels.

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 triethanolamine onto your skin in the future.

It may also be known as Trolamine, 2,2′,2”-Nitrilotriethanol or Sterolamide.

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: 2020