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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 609064, 8 pages
Research Article

Irritant Contact Dermatitis Risk of Common Topical Traditional Chinese Medicines Used for Skin-Lightening: A Pilot Clinical Trial with 30 Volunteers

1School of Chinese Medicine, Graduate Institute of Chinese Medicine, Graduate Institute of Integrated Medicine, College of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
2Departments of Dermatology, Medical Research, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Urology, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
3Department of Dermatology, Taichung Veteran General Hospital, Taichung 40705, Taiwan

Received 8 November 2013; Revised 24 February 2014; Accepted 7 March 2014; Published 10 April 2014

Academic Editor: Junhua Zhang

Copyright © 2014 Kao-Sung Tsai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Topical traditional Chinese medicine- (TTCM-) related contact dermatitis is not uncommon but ignored. Patch and photopatch tests using 6 individual herbal ingredients and Bai-Zhi-Kao (BZK; ), a skin-lightening TTCM preparation, were conducted on 30 participants. Twenty-five subjects showed at least 1 positive reaction, including 6 (20.0%) participants who reacted to BZK. The majority reacted to Radix Ampelopsis japonica (Bai-Lian; ) (60.0%), whereas few reacted to Rhizoma Bletilla striata (Bai-Ji; ) (16.7%), Rhizoma Atractylodis macrocephalae (Bai-Zhu; ) (10.0%), Radix Angelicae dahuricae (Bai-Zhi; ) (3.3%), and Herba asari (Xi-Xin; ) (3.3%). In the photopatch test, 3 participants (10.0%) reacted positively to BZK and 10 to ≥1 constituent; however, all reacted to Radix Angelicae dahuricae (26.7%), Radix Ampelopsis japonica (13.3%), and Rhizoma Bletilla striata (3.3%). In contrast, no subjects showed positive reactions to Sclerotium Poria cocos (Bai-Fu-Ling; ). Thus, BZK and its constituents might present potential latent risk of contact dermatitis owing to the possible presence of Radix Ampelopsis japonica and Radix Angelicae dahuricae. Furthermore, TTCMs, particularly cosmetic products, must be used carefully, with ample warning of potential contact dermatitis risk.