• Jakob Ferløv SchwensenEmail author
  • Jeanne Duus Johansen
Living reference work entry


Isothiazolinones are used in cosmetic and chemical substances for occupational use and possess bacteriostatic and fungiostatic activity. Isothiazolinones are potent contact allergens. The use of the isothiazolinone methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) in 3:1 combination with methylisothiazolinone (MI) (MCI/MI) resulted in the 1980s in high prevalence rates of contact allergy to MCI/MI across the EU. This rapid increase in new cases of MCI/MI contact allergy instigated a restriction of MCI/MI to 15 ppm that subsequently resulted in decreasing prevalence rates of contact allergy to MCI/MI in the EU. Later, around the millennium, MI was introduced as a single preservative in chemical substances for occupational use, and in 2005 and onward, MI was introduced in cosmetic products as a single preservative. The use of MI has resulted in an unprecedented steep increase in new cases of contact allergy to MI on the European continent, the US, Asia, and Australia. In many countries, the prevalence rates of MI exceed 7–10%. These two epidemics have mainly been driven by use of MCI/MI and MI in cosmetic products, but both are as well important allergens in the work environment. Occupations at special risk for MCI/MI or MI sensitization are painters, blacksmiths, machine operators, cosmetologists, and tile setters.

Other isothiazolinones, e.g., benzisothiazolinone (BIT) and octylisothiazolione (OIT), are only used in industrial products and non-cosmetic consumer products such as paints and leather products and also pose a problem in special occupations.


Methylisothiazolinone Benzisothiazolinone Octylisothiazolinone Risk occupations 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jakob Ferløv Schwensen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeanne Duus Johansen
    • 1
  1. 1.National Allergy Research Centre, Department of Dermatology and AllergyCopenhagen University Hospital Herlev-GentofteHellerupDenmark

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