Clinical relevance of tixocortol pivalate-positive patch tests and questionable bioequivalence of different hydrocortisone preparations

Authors


  • Conflicts of interest: The authors have declared no conflicts.

Correspondence: Daniel W. Shaw, Division of Dermatology, University of California San Diego, 8899 University Center Lane Ste 350, San Diego, CA 92122-1010, USA. Tel: +858-657-8322; Fax: +619-741-6655. E-mail: dwshaw@ucsd.edu

Summary

Background

Tixocortol-21-pivalate (tixocortol pivalate) is used as a surrogate marker for contact allergy to hydrocortisone and other corticosteroids.

Objective

To review the results of repeated open application testing (ROAT) and patch testing with hydrocortisone creams and ointments in tixocortol pivalate patch test-positive patients.

Methods

ROAT was performed when the history of hydrocortisone contact dermatitis was negative or equivocal. Hydrocortisone cream and/or ointment patch tests were performed in patients with and without histories of hydrocortisone contact dermatitis. Results were excluded in patients allergic to vehicle ingredients.

Results

ROAT was positive in 15 of 20 patients (75%) with hydrocortisone cream versus 6 of 16 (38%) with hydrocortisone ointment (p = 0.02). Patch testing was positive with hydrocortisone cream in 23 of 27 patients (85%) versus 1 of 14 (7%) with hydrocortisone ointment (p < 0.0001). Only 1 of 26 tixocortol pivalate patch test-negative patients had a positive patch test with hydrocortisone cream caused by a vehicle ingredient.

Conclusions

Clinical relevance was shown in most patients with positive tixocortol pivalate patch tests. Hydrocortisone creams gave positive patch tests and positive repeated open application tests much more often than hydrocortisone ointments. There were also significant differences in patch test reactivity among different hydrocortisone creams. We hypothesize that these differences may be explained by differences in hydrocortisone transepidermal penetration in different vehicles.

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