Systemic Toxicity

  • P. Hewitt
  • H. I. Maibach


Human skin is exposed to a plethora of chemicals from birth to death. Following percutaneous absorption, a chemical and/or its metabolites may cause toxicity in another organ distant from the point of entry. Although not generally appreciated, some chemicals are more toxic, at least in animals, when applied topically rather than orally. Further, many compounds are absorbed to a greater degree from the skin than the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and whole-body exposure can produce systemic absorption of grams of material. This chapter focuses on the limited epidemiologic material available, depending largely on case reports. Many drugs for topical use are capable of producing systemic side effects whose occurrence and severity depends largely on factors that affect the absorption of topically applied drugs.


Stratum Corneum Mycosis Fungoides Percutaneous Absorption Benzene Hexachloride Salicylate Poisoning 
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  • P. Hewitt
  • H. I. Maibach

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