Colophony Allergy/Sensitivity

Colophony was the first chemical for which my skin patch test came up positive. The reaction was the fastest and one of the strongest. Oddly, I’d never heard of it before. Colophony is pine sap. Other words used when identifying colophony include:

  • Rosin
  • Colophonium
  • Resin turbinthinae
  • Pine resin
  • Tall oil
  • Methyl abietate alcohol
  • Abietic alcohol
  • Abietyl alcohol

For something about which most of us have never heard, colophony can be found in many commonly-used products, including:

  • Cosmetics
  • Adhesives, including some used on bandages and medical tapes
  • Medicines, including topical medications used in dentistry
  • Chewing gum
  • Firewood and sawdust
  • Paper products and printing inks
  • Paints and varnishes
  • Grips for sports equipment
  • Ski wax
  • Stringed instrument rosin and cleaners
  • Cements, putties, and asphalt
  • Greases, lubricants, and waterproofing agents
  • Soaps, dental floss, sunscreens, diaper creams, and ointments

Colophony can cause difficulty breathing, swelling, fluid-filler blisters, or a red, inflamed rash. Usually the difficulty breathing is a more immediate reaction. A dermatitis reaction usually occurs at the site of contact, and can develop within 24 hours or up to seven days after the time of exposure.

An allergy to one chemical can often cause the body to react to chemicals with similar molecules. People who react to colophony are more likely to react to:

  • Balsam of Peru
  • Dihydroabietyl alcohol
  • Wood tars
  • Spruce resin
  • Oil of turpentine