Objective: To determine the prevalence of allergic reactions to gold among patients tested by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group (NACDG) from 1996 to 1998. Methods: This is a prospective analysis of patch test results from the 12 centers that comprise the NACDG. Gold was tested as gold sodium thiosulfate (0.5% in petrolatum [pet]), along with 49 other screening allergens, in patients presenting with possible contact dermatitis. Results: Of 4,101 patients tested, 388 (9.5%) had a positive patch test result to gold. Women accounted for 62.8% of the subjects tested and 90.2% of patients positive to gold (P < .0001). The most common sites of dermatitis in gold-allergic patients were the hands (29.6%), face (19.3%), and eyelids (7.5%). Nickel and cobalt allergies, respectively, also were present in 33.5% and 18.3% of gold allergic individuals, as compared with 14.2% and 9.0% of the total population. Gold was the only positive reaction in 15.2% of the 388 patients. Conclusion: Gold is a more common allergen than previously reported and might cause facial and eyelid dermatitis. Hypersensitivity to gold is statistically linked to female gender and to allergic reactions to nickel and cobalt.
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