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Common skin allergens and their potential link to skin cancer risk | Health

Skin allergies and skin irritation can lead to inflammation. This can further increase the risk of skin cancer over time. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Shifa Yadav, Consultant, Dermatology at Artemis Hospital Gurugram, said, “Skin allergies are a widespread concern, with symptoms ranging from mild irritation to severe inflammation. Although they are generally manageable, certain skin allergies and the resulting chronic inflammation can potentially increase the risk of developing skin cancer.”

Skin allergies and skin irritation can lead to inflammation, further increasing the risk of skin cancer over time.(Unsplash)

Dr Kandra Prasanth Reddy, Radiation Oncologist, American Oncology Institute, Hyderabad, further noted down the common skin allergens and how they can enhance the risk of skin cancer:

ALSO READ: Why do we get skin allergies? Health experts share causes, symptoms, treatment


Nickel is a widespread allergen found in jewellery, coins, and household items. Repeated exposure to nickel can lead to allergic contact dermatitis, characterised by chronic inflammation. This persistent inflammatory response can damage skin cells and DNA, which might elevate the risk of developing skin cancer.


Fragrances in perfumes, lotions, and soaps are known to cause allergic reactions in many individuals. Chronic exposure to these allergens can lead to dermatitis and ongoing skin irritation. This continual immune response may contribute to skin cancer over time.


Preservatives such as parabens and formaldehyde-releasing agents are common in cosmetics and skincare products. They can cause allergic reactions and sustained skin inflammation, further leading to skin cancer risk.

Chemical sunscreens:

Ingredients in chemical sunscreens, like oxybenzone and avobenzone, protect against UV radiation but can also cause allergic reactions in some individuals. Although these ingredients are essential for preventing sunburn and UV damage, the allergic reactions they provoke can lead to chronic inflammation, potentially raising the risk of skin cancer.

ALSO READ: How important is sunscreen for Indians; the right way to use it for skin cancer prevention

Hair dyes:

Certain chemicals in hair dyes, such as para-phenylenediamine (PPD), can cause allergic reactions. Continuous exposure and allergic reactions to these chemicals can result in long-term skin inflammation, which might increase the risk of skin cancer.

Dr. Shifa Yadav shared insights about a few skin allergies that can increase the risk of skin cancer:

ALSO READ: How to spot skin cancer: Symptoms, treatment and protection

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema):

Atopic dermatitis is characterised by chronic inflammation and itchy, red patches on the skin. Prolonged inflammation from eczema can lead to DNA damage in skin cells, increasing the risk of skin cancer.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis:

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when the skin comes into contact with an allergen, leading to an inflammatory response. Common allergens include nickel, fragrances, and certain preservatives found in cosmetics and personal care products. Chronic allergic contact dermatitis can result in persistent skin inflammation.


Photosensitivity, or heightened sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) light, can be caused by certain medications, medical conditions, or exposure to specific chemicals. People with photosensitivity experience severe skin reactions upon UV exposure, leading to chronic inflammation and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Chronic Actinic Dermatitis:

Chronic actinic dermatitis is a condition characterised by severe skin reactions to UV light, similar to photosensitivity but more persistent and widespread. This chronic condition results in prolonged inflammation.


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