Shoe contact dermatitis from dimethyl fumarate: clinical manifestations, patch test results, chemical analysis, and source of exposure


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

Ana Giménez-Arnau
Department of Dermatology
Hospital del Mar IMAS
Universitat Autònoma Barcelona
Passeig Maritim 25-29
08003 Barcelona
Tel: 34932483328
Fax: 34934144909


Background: The methyl ester form of fumaric acid named dimethyl fumarate (DMF) is an effective mould-growth inhibitor. Its irritating and sensitizing properties were demonstrated in animal models. Recently, DMF has been identified as responsible for furniture contact dermatitis in Europe.

Objective: To describe the clinical manifestations, patch test results, shoe chemical analysis, and source of exposure to DMF-induced shoe contact dermatitis.

Patients, Materials, and Methods: Patients with suspected shoe contact dermatitis were studied in compliance with the Declaration of Helsinki. Patch test results obtained with their own shoe and the European baseline series, acrylates and fumaric acid esters (FAE), were recorded according to international guidelines. The content of DMF in shoes was analysed with gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.

Results: Acute, immediate irritant contact dermatitis and non-immunological contact urticaria were observed in eight adults and two children, respectively. All the adult patients studied developed a delayed sensitization demonstrated by a positive patch testing to DMF ≤ 0.1% in pet. Cross-reactivity with other FAEs and acrylates was observed. At least 12 different shoe brands were investigated. The chemical analysis from the available shoes showed the presence of DMF.

Conclusion: DMF in shoes was responsible for severe contact dermatitis. Global preventive measures for avoiding contact with DMF are necessary.