Consultant Profile

Dr Graham Johnston

Dr Graham Johnston MB ChB, FRCP, CCST
Practicing at:
Spire Leicester Hospital
  • Dermatology
    • Allergy
    • Dermatological surgery
    • Inflammatory skin disease
    • Paediatric dermatology
    • Skin cancer
Special clinical interests:

Allergic Dermatitis including Cosmetic Dermatitis
Patch testing
Skin cancer
Cosmetic reactions

Research interests:
Allergic Contact Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Eczema
Current NHS and /or university posts:
Consultant Dermatologist, Head of Dermatology - University Hospitals of Leicester 
Year of first medical qualification:
Current membership(s) of professional, national and regional bodies:
British Association of Dermatologists
British Contact Dermatitis Society
Royal College of Physicians
Contact Details 
Telephone number to make a private appointment:
0116 265 3685
Private secretary:
Mrs Debbie Keast
Private secretary telephone number:
0116 265 3652
Private secretary email address:
Monday & Wednesday afternoons and evenings
Background Information 
Professional profile:

Dr Johnston is Head of Service for Dermatology at University Hospitals of Leicester. He has been treating patients with skin disease for nearly twenty years and is one of the most experienced dermatologists in the area. He runs a well established practice based here at the Spire Leicester Hospital which is managed by his Personal Assistant Mrs Debbie Keast. This provides an accessible, friendly and efficient service to patients with a wide variety of skin problems.
Dr Johnston trained in Leicester where his research into the role of vitamin D in psoriasis led to an award from the Royal Society of Medicine. He became an Honorary Consultant at St Thomas's Hospital, London before being appointed as a Consultant in Leicester in 2001. He has clinical and research interests in dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis and infections of the skin and holds a research grant from the British Skin Foundation.He has published over 60 papers in medical journals, has contributed to five major dermatology textbooks and appears on television and in the press advising on important issues such as skin cancer and allergy.
Dr Johnston has a special interest in eczema and dermatitis including cosmetic and occupational dermatitis: a role which led to him recently being recognised as clinical expert for the both National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the British Occupational Health Research Foundation.

Personal profile:

Dr Johnston enjoys all things Italian including food, wine and art. He speaks Italian badly in an attempt to continue the above when on holiday.

He enjoys skiing, golf and plays the piano when his family allow him.

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Dr Graham Johnston

Dr Graham Johnston Dermatology Consultant, Leicester, private hospital specialist.

Dr Johnston’s responses to questions frequently asked as a result of recent media interest in the increasing numbers of skin reactions to cosmetic products.

What is the latest cosmetic scare I’ve been hearing all about?
Dermatologists are concerned that a widely used preservative is causing a huge rise in skin allergies

What is the cause?
It’s a preservative called Methylisothiazolinone (or MI for short)

Is it new?
MI has been used for some years as a preservative. However it has recently been used in far more products at far higher concentrations than before causing a rise in reactions

What is it in?
It is mainly used in cosmetics including wet wipes, shampoos, conditioners bubble baths and shower gels. It is also causing problems when in skin creams, body lotions and soaps
It is even in some sunscreens

That’s nearly everything!
It gets worse. MI is also in detergents, washing up liquids, fabric softeners moist toilet papers (wipes) and some glues

What does it do?
Essentially it causes eczema. The skin where the product is applied becomes red itchy and scaly. In severe cases the skin becomes cracked and swollen

Is this reaction common?
It is now. Over 16% of people being tested by me here in Leicester now have this allergy. In fact Leicester has one of the highest rates in the country.

Who gets it?
The majority of people who react are ladies over 40 applying cosmetics to their face. However I have seen male and female patients of all ages and have seen all parts of the skin affected over the last 6 months

I often get mild reactions to things I put on my skin.How do I find out if I am allergic to MI?
The only way to be sure is by patch testing. This is a specialist procedure performed by dermatologists. Carefully controlled amounts of chemical are applied to the skin of the back to see which produces a reaction

Sounds tricky..
Not at all. I test nearly 400 people every year in Leicestershire. While it causes mild itching patients do not develop other problems. The biggest hassle is not being able to wash your back all week!

How do I know if it’s in my own cosmetics?
By European law all cosmetics have to have the ingredients listed on the packaging. Sometimes you have to look quite hard. If you can’t see the ingredients listed don’t use the product

What can I do?
You need to be as careful about what you apply to your skin as with what you eat! This is particularly true if you have a tendency to eczema asthma or hay fever. When buying a skin product the rule is the less ingredients the better – so always check the label!

© Spire Healthcare Group plc (2016)