• chair dermatitis;
  • contact sensitization;
  • dimethyl fumarates;
  • sofa dermatitis


Background  Sitting in new chairs or sofas has elicited dermatitis in numerous patients in Finland and in the U.K. since autumn 2006. The cause of the dermatitis seemed to be an allergen in the furniture materials.

Objectives  To determine the cause of the dermatitis in patients with furniture-related dermatitis.

Methods  Altogether 42 patients with furniture-related dermatitis were studied. First, 14 Finnish patients were patch tested with the standardized series and with the chair textile material. A thin-layer chromatogram (TLC) strip and an extract made from the same textile material were tested in seven Finnish patients. The test positive spot of the TLC and the content of a sachet found inside a sofa in the U.K. were analysed by using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. All chemicals analysed were patch tested in 37 patients.

Results  A positive patch test reaction to the chair textile and to its extract was seen in all patients tested, one-third of whom had concurrent reactions to acrylates. Positive reactions to the same spot of the TLC strip were seen in five of seven patients and dimethyl fumarate was analysed from the spot as well as from the sachet contents. Dimethyl fumarate (0·01%) elicited positive reactions in all the patients. The other chemicals analysed did not elicit positive reactions, but one patient in the U.K. had a positive reaction to tributyl phosphate.

Conclusions  Sensitization to dimethyl fumarate was seen in all the patients with furniture-related dermatitis. Concurrent sensitization or cross-reactions were common among the sensitized patients.