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WAO Medical Book Review

Dictionary of Contact Allergens
Authors: Lepoittevin, J.-P., Christophe, L.C.
ISBN: 978-3-540-74164-0

Available from: Springer
List Price: 29.95 € (about $40.00 USD)

Dr Veronica A Preda, MB BS BSc (Hons)
Conjoint Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Australia
Sydney South Western Area Health Service Campbelltown Hospital.
Skin & Cancer Foundation Darlinghurst and St Vincent's Hospital.

The Dictionary of Contact Allergens is a concise pocket sized paperback book on the structures of chemicals implicated in contact dermatitis.

The purpose of the Dictionary of Contact Allergens is to familiarize the reader with the structures of the chemicals involved in allergic contact dermatitis.

The intended audience is for physicians involved with the management of patients with contact dermatitis and allergic skin disease. This includes primary care doctors and specialists such as immunologists and dermatologists. In a broader sense it may be of use to clinicians involved in guidelines and caring for patients in an occupational health and safety as well as public health setting.

This book has alphabetized the chemicals involved in contact dermatitis. Listed under the principal chemical name, it contains a description of each molecule together with the Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) registry number which characterizes the substance and its chemical structure. Suggested reading of pertinent related contact dermatitis articles is included with each culprit molecule. The Dictionary of Contact Allergens also contains a chapter on patch testing with the patient's own products providing clinical relevance.

This book has several strengths. Lepoittevin and Le Coz have been extremely thorough in detailing the chemical structures and correct names with CAS number of the molecules. The simple layout and concise content makes for a pleasant read. In particular the suggested reading with a short-list of useful articles is a plus. The size of the book is not cumbersome and is functional for a pocket reference.

The primary weakness of this book is in its alphabetization under chemical name. From a clinical stand point, the alphabetization under the principal chemical name makes this book a difficult read and an impractical reference material. In most clinical contexts the exact chemical name will not be known, only the offending item containing multiple possible contact allergens is usually available. Indexing could be better achieved under the products involved in the contact allergy as well as the chemical name. For example, headings could include cosmetics, hair care products, clothing dyes, chemicals in footwear, topical cutaneous therapies used in the medical field, paints, lacquers, adhesive chemicals, etc.