Parabens a Rosacea Trigger?
An Editorial by Brady Barrows, April 15, 2008
Parabens have never been listed before this date on any rosacea trigger list. However a recent post at one of the rosacea online groups has added parabens as a possible concern.† Parabens "are a group of chemicals widely used as preservatives in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. Parabens are effective preservatives in many types of formulas. These compounds, and their salts, are used primarily for their bacteriocidal and fungicidal properties. They can be found in shampoos, commercial moisturizers, shaving gels, cleansing gels, personal lubricants, topical/parenteral pharmaceuticals, spray tanning solution and toothpaste. They are also used as food additives. Their efficacy as preservatives, in combination with their low cost, their long history of safe use—at least to the extent that scientific studies have not proven they are harmful—and the unproven efficacy of natural ingredients like grapefruit seed extract (GSE), lyprobably explains why parabens are so commonplace. They are becoming increasingly controversial, however, and some organizations which adhere to the precautionary principle object to their everyday use."‡
Of concern is allergic reactions "in individuals with normal skin, parabens are, for the most part, non-irritating and non-sensitizing. Parabens can, however, cause skin irritation and contact dermatitis in individuals with paraben allergies, a small percentage of the general population."‡
Whether parabens can be isolated as a proven rosacea trigger remains to be seen. Will any 'official' trigger list include parabens? At this point only anecdotal reports will have to do. However, many rosacea triggers on 'official' lists are simply anecdotal since there has been no conclusive clinical study proving that any rosacea trigger will produce a rosacea flare up in every rosacean.# It may be some time before a conclusive answer to this question is found and the questions remains, "Are parabens a rosacea trigger?"
† Rosacea Support Group
# Rosacea 101, Chapter 11, Triggers, page 45