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Colophony (rosin) Allergy

Most commonly experienced as Elastoplast allergy

Colophony or rosin is a natural substance obtained from conifers, which gives it its distinctive smell of pine trees. It is created from pine balsam during the making of turpentine. When the turpentine is distilled away, colophony (rosin) is the hard yellow residue left behind.

You may be familiar with Rosin in its natural form as used by players of stringed instruments but it is also widely used in the manufacture of other everyday items. Most people develop Colophony Allergy by being sensitised through the use of fabric sticking plasters (eg Elastoplast) as it is present in the adhesive.

Common sources of Colophony include:

  • chewing gum
  • mascara, rouge, soap, eyeshadow, shampoo, lipstick, nail varnish
  • medicated creams and ointments
  • wart treatment gels
  • fabric plasters, zinc oxide plaster on a roll, Micropore tape
  • adhesive tapes and fly papers
  • glue tackifiers eg on stamps and labels
  • paper (glossy paper is worse), magazines
  • printing inks
  • the sticky sap of Christmas trees
  • Leylandii trees and pine forests
  • pine sawdust
  • pine oil cleaners
  • wood polishes
  • soldering flux
  • rosin for stringed musical instruments
  • ‘gripper’ for bowls, weight lifting and sports
  • dental cements and impression pastes
  • varnishes and glazes
  • surface coatings, sealing components
  • fan belts and clutches
  • linoleum
  • brewery pitch


In the European Union all products containing more than 1% colophony have to be labelled with an allergy warning.
Because colophony is found in such a wide variety of products, it is important to use ingredient-labelled products that do not list colophony or any of its synonyms on the label.

If you have become sensitised to colophony and need to avoid it watch out for its alternative names on ingredients lists:

Abietic acid, abietic alcohol, abietyl alcohol, abitol, methyl abietate alcohol, Dercolyte ZS, dermatol 18, dertophene 18, foral 105, granolite SG, staybelite 10, Gum rosin, resina terebinthinate, tall oil, W-W wood rosin, hercolyn D.

If you are allergic to colophony you may also be allergic to turpentine, wood (spruce, pine balsam), wood tar, fragrance and Balsam of Peru.

You can now buy Hypoallergenic Plasters which do not use colophony in the adhesive.

More allergy info and advice here