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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 78  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 560--568

Parthenium dermatitis in India: Past, present and future

Department of Dermatology and Venereology, AIIMS, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Vinod K Sharma
Department of Dermatology and Venereology, AIIMS Teaching Block 4th floor, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.100522

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Parthenium dermatitis is an immuno-inflammatory disease caused by Parthenium hysterophorus and is the commonest cause of plant dermatitis in India. It is caused by airborne dry and friable plant particles including trichomes, and the most important allergens responsible for allergic contact dermatitis are sesquiterpene lactones. The combined type IV and type I hypersensitivity to parthenium has been recently postulated. In sensitized individuals, it can cause a spectrum of clinical patterns, such as classical airborne pattern, chronic actinic dermatitis-like presentation, mixed pattern dermatitis, exfoliative dermatitis, widespread dermatitis, and other rare patterns. There is definite trend towards change from airborne pattern to chronic actinic pattern in natural history of parthenium dermatitis. Contact sensitivity to parthenium is everlasting, and hence the disease runs a chronic course with exacerbation during summers. Patch testing with acetone or aqueous plant extract is the simplest way of confirming parthenium contact allergy. Management includes avoiding contact with allergen, managing dermatitis with topical corticosteroids/tacrolimus, and other immunosupressives like azathioprine. In future, we expect parthenium dermatitis to become less prevalent due to rapid urbanization and possible development of new biological methods to eradicate the parthenium. Genetic factors associated with susceptibility to parthenium dermatitis need to be studied.


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Online since 15th March '04
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