Products for skincare are exciting to try. These daily items will make you look amazing and feel great at the same time, from shampoos and lotions to perfumes and eyeliners, but not if you find yourself getting an allergic response to them or skin allergies. For others, a substance once desired will turn into a nightmare that is itchy, bumpy, and unpleasant.
However, allergic reactions to cosmetics, especially fragrances, are not rare. Although it is not yet well known the exact relationships between the chemical compounds in products and adverse reactions, some chemical compounds used in products can create havoc on your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.
It is important to understand how to spot an allergic reaction, and therefore know how to care for your skin before and after the reaction has occurred.
How to Tell If You’re Allergic to Skincare Products
Since using a skincare product, if your skin experiences any of the following signs, you can have an allergic reaction:
- Dry, cracked, or scaly patches;
- Hives, bumps, or blisters;
- A burning or tingling sensation.
The forms of skin reactions induced by personal care items are referred to as “irritant contact dermatitis” and “allergic contact dermatitis.” If anything damages your skin, the former happens. It can be hard to distinguish between the two distinct responses. A mixture of the two may also be some allergic reactions. Generally, all reactions manifest as a red, itchy, and painful rash, but neither is life-threatening.
What Causes skin allergies?
Why skincare products cause allergic reactions are not yet well known. Researchers do know, however, how and where these reactions begin.
When a foreign material is found in the body (known as an antigen), the cells of the immune system (known as T cells) try to neutralize it. However, not every chemical compound is caught by those cells. That is because the T cells identify pieces of proteins, or peptides, for the chemical compounds that are captured.
To find out the exact role personal care items play in causing a T cell reaction, a research team led by several doctors and universities conducted a report. They suspected a protein called CD1a could explain why contact dermatitis might result from these products. The study would eventually lead to the discovery that the chemical compounds Peruvian balsam, benzyl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, and farnesol all induce an immune response in subjects.
However, these are not the only substances leading to allergic reactions. Below, further allergens are included.
Skin Care Ingredients That Can Cause Allergic Reactions
Allergens present in cosmetic products are categorized by the FDA into five distinct classes: natural rubber, fragrances, preservatives, colorants, and metals.
The following are common allergens that are present in cosmetic products:
- Natural rubber: Latex.
A reaction to this product could look like a skin rash that might be accompanied by blisters.
- Fragrances: Amyl cinnamal, amyl cinnamyl alcohol, benzyl alcohol, benzyl benzoate, benzyl cinnamate, benzyl salicylate, cinnamyl alcohol, cinnamaldehyde, citral, citronellol, coumarin, eugenol, farnesol, geraniol, hexyl cinnamaldehyde, hydroxycitronellal, hydroxycitronellal, lyral, isoeugenol, lilial, d-Limonene, linalool, methyl 2-octynoate, g-Methylionone, oakmoss extract, and tree moss extract.
A reaction to a fragrance could include redness, itching, or burning in addition to headaches, sneezing, or watery eyes.
- Preservatives: Methylisothiazolinone, methylchloroisothiazolinone, formaldehyde, and formaldehyde-releasing ingredients.
Reactions to preservatives could include skin rashes, burning of the nose, eyes, or throat, and headaches.
- Dyes: p-phenylenediamine and coal-tar.
When experiencing a reaction to dyes, the skin may swell, become red and inflamed, and it may itch as well.
- Metals: Nickel and gold.
A metal reaction could include scaling skin, redness, swelling with or without a rash or blisters, and itching.
The ones free of those ingredients are the best skincare items to purchase. Before buying any skincare product, be sure to carefully check labels or even visit the manufacturer’s website so that you can be assured of avoiding any potentially harmful ingredients that could cause skin allergies.
Caring for Your Skin After a Reaction
It is necessary, immediately after an allergic reaction, that you avoid using the medication. Wash it off as soon as you encounter adverse effects from the affected region. Mild cosmetic reactions, once the allergen is extracted, will normally resolve themselves. Only make sure you avoid the item that caused it. Throwing it out is the best bet for you.
In intensity, allergic reactions range. Often call your physician for mild to serious cosmetic reactions. If there are signs of anaphylaxis, seek medical attention immediately.
Knowing what you’re allergic to and how to prevent it is the best thing you can do for your skin in the future. It’s not enough to search for items labeled “hypoallergenic,” “fragrance-free,” or “for sensitive skin.” The use of these words is not governed by any federal standard. You must ensure that you carefully read through the labels, testing each ingredient.
When shopping for new items, make sure that you recognize the type of skin. Look for eye creams, face moisturizers, correctors for dark spots, and other cosmetic items that are formulated for the skin type you have. Not every object will comply with your skin. It’s up to you, basically, to find what works and what doesn’t.
Getting Tested For Skin Allergies
After a reaction, it is usually a good idea to get screened for allergies. The best way to prevent further exposure is to know exactly what allergens caused you to get red and itchy, so if you’re not sure what sparked your reaction, make sure to discuss the right protocol with your doctor. There could be a range of forms in which the provider may choose to handle the offending agent’s determination. Speak to your doctor about seeing an allergist or immunologist (allergy-specific doctors) so you can be referred for testing.
Skin tests and blood tests are among the most common ways of testing. However, your doctor can order tests for other conditions that may cause these outbreaks, such as thyroid disorder, if you are having persistent hives.