Chemical preservative in furniture causes dermatitis

At the 2010 meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, Dr Joseph  Fowler Jr, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Louisville, Kentucky described how the chemical dimethylfumate (DMF), used to prevent mould in shipments of furniture, clothing and shoes from China, can penetrate the fabric and subsequently cause dermatitis.

When they come into contact with DMF, susceptible individuals develop contact dermatitis, a rash that can occur anywhere on the body. Irritated skin becomes dry and chapped and eventually red, scaly, and inflamed.

Dr Fowler said that the first five cases were reported in Europe in 2008 but there have been at least 1,000 cases in Europe since then. Cases have also been reported in Canada.

In the US there have been no published reports, although Dr Fowler says he treated one man who developed contact dermatitis of the foot from a shoe that was contaminated with the chemical. The rash went away after the patient disposed of the offending footwear, he says.

Courtesy of WebMD

First published March 2010


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