Coconut diethanolamide allergy

Author: Dr Mark Duffill, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 2008.

What is coconut diethanolamide and where is it found?

Coconut diethanolamide is a widely used surface active agent which helps to stabilise the foam in hand gels, hand-washing liquids, shampoos and dish-washing liquids. It is manufactured from coconut oil and is a non-ionic surfactant.

Products which may contain coconut diethanolamide
  • All purpose cleaners
  • Barrier creams
  • Bath products
  • Cooling fluids
  • Cosmetics
  • Dish washing detergents
  • Disinfectants
  • Hand soaps
  • Hand washing liquids
  • Hydraulic mining oil
  • Industrial cleaners
  • Laundry detergents
  • Metalworking fluids
  • Sanitizers
  • Shampoo

Potential occupational exposures

What are the reactions to coconut diethanolamide allergy?

Coconut diethanolamide can rarely cause contact allergic dermatitis, particularly on the hands. Leave-on products (hand-protection foams) cause sensitisation much more rapidly (2-3 months) than rinse-off products (hand-washing liquids; 5-7 years).

Am I allergic to coconut diethanolamide?

Coconut diethanolamide contact allergy is diagnosed by a positive patch test to coconut diethanolamide.

Treatment of contact dermatitis due to coconut diethanolamide exposure

If you are diagnosed with coconut diethanolamide allergy then avoid products which contain this. Read product labels. It may take 2-3 weeks of avoiding exposure before improvement in the dermatitis occurs.

Standard treatment is used for the dermatitis i.e. topical corticosteroids and emollients.

Alternative names for coconut diethanolamid


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