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Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) - a guide for dermatologists on how to manage affected individuals.
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) – a guide for dermatologists on how to manage affected individuals.
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) is a condition characterized by a subjectively perceived increase in sensitivity to environmental chemicals. Individuals affected report a wide variety of nonspecific complaints, and frequently attribute cutaneous and mucosal symptoms to chemical exposures. Dermatologists should therefore be familiar with this condition. MCS is a diagnosis of exclusion. Other causes for the patients' symptoms should be ruled out by routine laboratory tests, allergy tests and, if indicated, monitoring for toxic (environmental) substances. The primary job of dermatologists is to rule out skin diseases or hypersensitivities as possible causes of the complaints. Interdisciplinary patient management is essential, especially in severe cases in which those affected have problems coping with everyday life. Relevant specialties in this context include environmental medicine, psychosomatic medicine as well as occupational and social medicine. Cutaneous symptoms are usually addressed with symptomatic treatment using basic skin care products. There are currently no evidence-based treatment recommendations for MCS. It is crucial that MCS patients be protected from unnecessary treatments and thus from mental, social and financial strain. In addition to medical skills, managing MCS patients requires communicative and psychosocial competence in particular. Physicians involved in the treatment will benefit from training in psychotherapy. Irrespective of the mechanisms that lead to MCS, diagnosis and treatment of this condition require an actively supportive attitude towards these patients, a good doctor-patient relationship and interdisciplinary cooperation.