Topical botanically derived products: Use, skin reactions, and usefulness of patch tests. A multicentre Italian study

Monica Corazza, Alessandro Borghi, Rosella Gallo, Donatella Schena, Paolo Pigatto, Maria Michela Lauriola, Fabrizio Guarneri, Luca Stingeni, Colombina Vincenzi, Caterina Foti, Annarosa Virgili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background The evidence on the safety of topical preparations containing botanical extracts is limited. Objectives To assess (i) the use of botanically derived compounds in a large population, (ii) the incidence of cutaneous side-effects, and (iii) the diagnostic usefulness of patch testing. Methods A questionnaire was used in 2661 patients to assess both the prevalence and type of topical botanical preparations used, and the occurrence of adverse skin reactions. Patients declaring adverse reactions were patch tested with (i) the Italian (SIDAPA) baseline series, (ii) an additional botanical series, and (iii) the patients' own products. Results Of the patients, 1274 (48%) reported the use of topical botanical products; 139 patients (11%) commented on adverse cutaneous reactions; 75 (54%) showed positive reactions with the Italian baseline series. Among the 122 patients tested with the botanical series, 19 (16%) showed positive reactions, in many cases with concomitant relevant positivity to at least one allergen of the Italian series connected with cosmetics. The commonest botanically derived allergens were propolis, Compositae extracts, and Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil. Conclusions Contact allergy is a possible adverse effect of natural products. Baseline series supplemented with the commonest botanical allergens may be adequate for detecting most of the cases of contact allergy to natural topical products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-97
Number of pages8
JournalContact Dermatitis
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • adverse effects
  • botanical products
  • contact dermatitis
  • herbal remedies
  • herbal therapies
  • patch test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Immunology and Allergy

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Topical botanically derived products: Use, skin reactions, and usefulness of patch tests. A multicentre Italian study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this