The popularity of soaps and other toilet articles containing antimicrobial agents is quite understandable in our society. Television commercials and other advertising media emphasize good grooming as an essential part of an attractive personality. They even impart a sense of guilt to anyone inconsiderate enough to bathe with nonantiseptic soap. Unfortunately, the good intentions of some people to avoid offensive body odor have occasionally resulted in skin eruptions, sometimes serious enough to require administration of systemic corticosteroids and even hospitalization.
Among the antimicrobial agents extensively used in soaps, creams, and detergents are tribromosalicylanilide, bithionol, and hexachlorophene. Photoallergic contact dermatitis has been associated with products containing halogenated salicylanilides and bithionol, but has been reported only once with a product containing hexachlorophene. Cross-photosensitivity has been demonstrated between tetrachlorosalicylanilide, tribromosalicylanilide, and bithionol, but not with hexachlorophene.
In 1961, a British report warned that contact and photocontact dermatitis caused by soaps containing tetrachlorosalicylanilide had