What Is Colophony Allergy?

Updated April 17, 2017

Colophony, commonly known as rosin, is a sap from pine or spruce trees. People allergic to colophony may experience asthma or acute allergic contact dermatitis.


Colophony allergy is caused by an overreactive immune system, which emits antibodies to fight harmless substances in contact with the skin or lungs. These antibodies cause irritation.


Inhaling rosin dust can cause asthma or other trouble breathing in an allergic person. Contact with the skin can lead to acute allergic contact dermatitis, an itchy skin rash at the site where the allergen touched the skin.


Many products contain colophony, including make-up, adhesives (Scotch tape and bandages, for instance), paper products, household cleaners, first-aid ointment, and the rosin used for string instruments.


The only treatment for colophony allergy is avoiding products containing colophony. Wear gloves when handling cleaning products, avoid sawdust from pine and related trees, and inspect products at home and work for possible allergens.

Other Names

Colophony is also known as tall oil, resin terebinthinae, abietyl alcohol, abietic alcohol, abietic acid, and methyl abietate alcohol.

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About the Author

Mara Shannon is a writer whose work appears on various websites. Shannon also blogs about gaming and literature. Shannon holds a Bachelor of Arts in music with a focus on performance.