Not Safe to Sit on the Sofa?

from the annual meetings of the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Contact Dermatitis Society, Miami Beach

Courtesy flickr user Perfecto Insecto used with common license

Dermatologists in Europe have linked more than 1,000 cases of a new dermatitis to furniture shipped from a Chinese manufacturer, and more recently, reports of rashes from shoes and clothing from China are coming out of Spain and Italy as well.

So what’s causing people to suddenly break out  in this sometimes patchy, often widespread and painful rash? Turns out it’s dimethyl fumarate (DMF). How does this allergen get into the furniture, the clothing and the shoes? The DMF comes in tiny packets–similar to the  “Warning–Do Not Eat”  packets used to keep products dry during shipping. The time it takes to ship these products is enough for the vapors to silently permeate the new couches, chairs, and clothing.

The European Union banned DMF-containing products in May 2009,  accoring to an EU legislation blog.

“We have not seen (sofa dermatitis) yet  in the U.S., but we are probably going to start seeing this, and should be aware of it,” Dr. Joseph Fowler, Jr., a dermatologist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, said during a media briefing at the AAD meeting.

‘Did you just buy a new couch or clothes from China?’ might be a good question a patient with a mysterious dermatitis.  Most ‘sofa dermatitis’ cases are linked, literally, to the Chinese manufacturer Linkwise. The good news is many patients quickly improve once their new purchase is discarded.

—Damian McNamara (on twitter @MedReporter)
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Filed under Allergy and Immunology, Dermatology, Family Medicine, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, The Mole

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