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Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

DISHWASHING SOAP: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Allergen

Dishwashing Soap

 

These detergents and soaps cause more than half of the skin problems — including occupational hand dermatitis — in kitchen staff and homemakers, with new cases of occupational hand dermatitis doubling that of other industries each year. Prolonged exposure to water alone (plus certain foods) can cause irritant and allergic reactions, but dishwashing soaps themselves contain several allergens including triclosanfragrance, dyes, and preservatives (including quaternium). Some also have disinfectants and bleaches that are irritants. A patch test can be highly valuable here: if you do not patch test positive to rubber, thiuram, and latex, you might be able to continue hand washing by using protective gloves. Otherwise, try these alternatives for hand washing dishes:

  • Baking soda: put some in a bowl and mix in a little bit of water to make a paste. Use your fingers to smear some onto your dishes and wash as normal. For a stronger paste, add a few drops of white vinegar or both white vinegar and lemon.
  • Allergen-free shampoo or body wash or allergen-free laundry soap. Pour some into an old squeeze bottle and dilute with water.
  • If you are able to, consider a dishwasher. This significantly minimizes contact with detergent and it saves more water, too.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

VINEGAR: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen

Vinegar

Acetic acid is another household staple that was traditionally used as an inexpensive wound cleaner. It is also sometimes used (diluted) in a gentle compress to dry up blisters from allergic contact dermatitis or to help manage atopic dermatitis.

The topmost skin barrier layer is the stratum corneum. It has an acidic pH of 4-6 that helps prevent its invasion, colonization, and/or infection by pathogenic microbes. Disruption of the barrier layer — which occurs in atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions — shifts the skin to a slightly more alkaline pH.  When this happens, infection by fungi, bacteria, viruses, and/or parasites may follow and further increase the skin’s pH. This can denature the skin and cause additional dryness. This is why skincare that is just slightly acidic is preferred, especially for skins with a compromised barrier — this is also why high-pH products (like hard soaps) are not recommended for dry, atopic, or sensitive skins.

Small amounts of vinegar can help lower the pH of the skin, preventing infection and allowing the skin to heal faster. But don’t use vinegars with additives like chili or flavors: choose plain white vinegar, apple cider, or coconut vinegar. And as with all remedies, make sure to check with your dermatologist before using vinegar on your skin: it can be irritating and your skin condition may not benefit from (or might be further comprised by) exposure to vinegar.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

TOILET PAPER, TISSUE, PAPER TOWEL: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Allergen

Toilet Paper, Tissue, Paper Towels

Considering how much these products are used by billions of people every day, and considering how many common contact allergens go into toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels, it is surprising that there are relatively few incidents of contact dermatitis attributed to them. The top contact allergens and their cross reactants typical found in these paper products include:

These products are daily necessities. If you have patch tested positive to any of these allergens, look for uncolored, fragrance-free, and minimally processed papers. White, unscented products may be fine — while likely bleached with chlorine and related substances, chlorine is an irritant, it is not a contact allergen.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

14. Ghasimi, Dara & Zandvoort, Marcel & Adriaanse, Michiel & de Kreuk, Merle. (2016). Comparative analysis of the digestibility of sewage fine sieved fraction and hygiene paper produced from virgin fibers and recycled fibers. Waste Management. 53. 156–164. 10.1016/j.wasman.2016.04.034.

15. Abildgaard A, Mikkelsen SH, Stuer-Lauridsen F. 2003. Survey of chemical substances in paper handkerchiefs and toilet paper. Copenhagen (DK): Danish Environmental Protection Agency. Survey of Chemical Substances in Consumer Products, No. 34.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

OFFICE SUPPLIES & COMPUTER ACCESSORIES: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Allergen

Office Supplies & Computer Accessories

If you have allergic skin, the typical work desk can be a bit of a contact allergen minefield…

Nickel

So common that it’s rare for any metal not to have some nickel in it, this allergen has been the number one contact allergen for many years. Some good news: in very high-quality metals, the nickel is bonded very well. This significantly reduces the chances of the nickel being rubbed off. This is important because nickel is dissolved by sweat (a “microbial corrosion”), resulting in its absorption and penetration into the skin, which is what causes the allergic reaction. If you’ve patch tested positive for nickel, consider a nickel and cobalt spot test. There are also new barrier creams that block nickel and cobalt ions, but check the ingredients list: while fragrance-free, some contain preservatives.

Watch for nickel in…

  • Your computer’s metal parts
  • Accessories like laptop and phone casings, headphones, hard drives, USB ports, mouse exteriors — these may use cheaper metals to make them more affordable
  • Your chair’s armrests
  • Eyeglass frames
  • Pen parts, scissors, paper clips, staplers, staples

Cleaners and Polishers

Lots of furniture polishers are scented. If you’ve patch tested positive to fragrance, be careful when rubbing down your desk. If your cleaning solution comes in a spray, be wary of aerosolized particles that could also cause airborne contact dermatitis and hyperpigmentations (fragrances are also top photo-allergens which can cause dark patches on the skin).

Computer and monitor disinfecting solutions might contain other ingredients that aren’t allergens but that are irritants such as alcohol or substances related to chlorine.

Some cleaning wipes may even contain MCI/MI (methylisothiazolinone), a potent contact allergen used as a preservative.

Rubber

Rubber, a common contact allergen, and rubberized plastic give hard surfaces a bit of a cushion. Thiuram, another top allergen, is in rubber. Look out for…

  • Rubber or rubberized plastic cases for your tablet, laptop, or phone
  • Soft-grips on pens and travel mugs
  • The exterior of your water bottle
  • Your office seat cushion or armrests
  • Buttons that have softer or cushier exteriors
  • Stress balls
  • Erasers
  • Mouse pads
  • Rubber bands
  • Rubber-coated paper clips

Colors

Many dyes are top contact allergens and many colored items contain benzophenones to prevent color degradation from light exposure:

  • Colored post-its and papers
  • Inks
  • Colored rubber bands, computer accessories, chair fabric, the exterior of pens and pencils…anything that’s brightly colored

Sticky Stuff

Epoxies, acrylates, and formaldehydes (including formaldehyde releasers). These and other allergens are present in:

  • Multiple types of glues, from school pastes to extreme-hold glues
  • Nail, wig, and lash adhesives
  • Bandages and tapes
  • Glues used in shoes, bags, and jewelry (including computer, tablet, and phone casings)
  • Wood glues
  • Glues in inks and paints (the adhesives make the color stick to the application surface)
  • …most substances intended to make something stick to another thing.
  • If you have patch tested positive for substances in glues and adhesives, take care to avoid them, particularly when wet, as reactions can be severe and affect more than skin.

Other Not-Good Things For Your Skin

The above are just the top contact allergens. There other unhealthy things for your skin in a typical work desk setting:

  • Indoor lights cause hyperpigmentations. This includes the UVA that comes through your windows but also the visible light from your lamps, reading lights, and overhead lights, and the lights from your tablet, computer monitor, phone, and TV.
  • Chronic contact with your chair seat if it is brightly colored, leather, or denim, or even from the foam (if these are your allergens) can also cause pigmented contact dermatitis. PCD is more common in people with darker or mixed phototypes. It can be misdiagnosed because it does not go through the usual redness, then itching and thickening of the skin. Instead, over time the skin just darkens. People don’t usually complain about it or see a doctor for it because PCD develops slowly over time. What can help with a diagnosis is looking at skin darkening on the areas of contact with things that you don’t tend to think you come into contact with as much…such as your chair seat. This is more true where your exposed skin comes into contact with the seat. Wearing clothing that covers you up more or draping an organic, light-colored or uncolored natural fabric over the seat may help unless the cloth itself contains your allergens.
  • Hours at your desk can also promote bad eating, poor sleep, and lack of exercise, all of which are inflammatory. Inflammation can cause acne and trigger flare-ups.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

MILK & CREAM: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Allergen

Milk & Cream

This is a complicated answer. Food and skin allergies operate differently. Food allergies are determined by a prick, scratch, or blood test and involve type B cells. Skin allergies are determined by a patch test and type T cells are involved. It is not always so straightforward: some studies report that epicutaneous patch tests can miss protein dermatitis, and prick tests can be imperfect. Milk (the most common food allergy in infants) is one of the substances that seems to cross over, being both a common food allergen and a skin allergen that can cause protein contact dermatitis and allergic contact urticaria. Protein contact dermatitis can be caused by proteins from animals, plants, flour, or proteolytic enzymes.

While the prick test tends to be more common, the results may not relate to the actual experience of patients with the food or dust or other substances that the test says they are allergic to. In the case of milk, a prick or scratch test usually shows a positive result even though a skin patch test often shows a negative result. One study showed that cow’s milk protein contact urticaria only occurred in babies with a cow’s milk food allergy. For milk in particular, it may be best to ask your dermatologist and allergist about getting both a patch test and a blood test called a radioallergosorbent test (RAST). This radioimmunoassay detects specific IgE antibodies. It is often used when a prick test cannot be done because the patient has a severe rash on the usual test areas, or if the patient is highly sensitive (where a prick test may cause a severe reaction).

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

14. Schichter-Konfino V, Almog M, Bamberger E, Berkowitz D, Kessel A. The significance of allergic contact urticaria to milk in children with cow’s milk allergy. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2015 May;26(3):218-222.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

BAKING SODA: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen

Baking Soda

This pantry staple is regularly used in baking as well as lots of household and health needs. It is not a top contact allergen and can be beneficial for the skin. For example, it’s a common remedy to soothe dry skin, insect bites, and “swimmer’s itch” (cercarial dermatitis), and as an alternative to fluoride-free toothpaste to help manage peri-oral dermatitis.

IMPORTANT: Baking soda baths are considered quite safe but baking soda can be absorbed into the skin. This can be a problem for people with impaired kidney function as it can lead to high sodium (hypernatrenia), low chloride (hypochloremia), low potassium (hypopotassemia), low volume and eventually alkalosis. If you have a health condition that involves the kidneys, make sure to check with your doctor before using baking soda on the skin or in a bath.

Because baking soda can be absorbed by normal skin, its absorption is even more of a concern if the skin has a barrier defect or for babies whose skins absorb more of what is topically applied than adult skins. As with all remedies — “alternative” or not — check with your doctor before trying baking soda on the skin.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

KOMBUCHA: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen

Kombucha

In its original, basic form, this powerhouse probiotic made with fermented green or black tea with sugar, bacteria, and yeast is not a top contact allergen. However, be wary of mass produced, pre-packaged kombucha that might also contain artificial flavors (many of which are contact allergens and/or related to fragrance) or food dyes. People who have patch tested positive to lemon and other fruits that are popular additions to kombucha sometimes find that any contact with the fruits can cause a rash on the lips or around the mouth. Remember that food allergies and contact skin allergies operate differently, however, so get a patch test from your dermatologist and check with your allergist before deciding if kombucha (and which) is right for you.

Research into the human microbome is still in its infancy but there are some suggestions that promoting our natural, healthy bacteria could help us fight off infection. This could be important for atopic dermatitis (eczema) and other skins with barrier damage due to topical steroids which thin the skin, or from the environmental pollutants, poor diet, or even psychological stress (studies show that stress disrupts the barrier and its ability to heal itself). When the skin’s barrier is compromised it tends to be colonized by harmful bacteria. Some studies on probiotics for children with atopic dermatitis (check out this helpful summary from the National Eczema Association) showed promising results, but as always, check with your dermatologist before trying anything new for your skin. More research is required to measure efficacy as well as to identify the correct strains and doses, and to determine possible risks.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

BOREDOM & STRESS: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen

Boredom & Stress

Neither boredom nor stress is in patch test trays and neither is a top contact allergen. Both can lead to inflammation, however. Boredom can encourage unhealthy choices — eating junk food (which does mean lots of allergen exposure), spending all day on the couch (ditto) bingeing on our favorite shows, staying up later and later, drinking more and more, sleeping less and less — and stress is inflammatory.

Inflammation isn’t always bad. A fever is an inflammation and exercise is pro-inflammatory. The body needs inflammation sometimes to fight off infection and keep itself healthy. Like nature, much of our body’s systems require a delicate balance to function well. But too much inflammation is a real problem: it is linked to almost every health issue there is from depression to obesity, heart disease and cancer. In skin, inflammation is closely linked to acne, eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and other problems.

The great news is that the “antidotes” to boredom and stress are anti-inflammatory and benefit you in more ways than inflammation hurts you. An increasing number of clinical studies shows that positivity, a gratitude journal, meditation, yoga and similar practices reduce physical inflammation. A UC Davis study has linked meditation to an increase in telomerase, an enzyme fundamental to the long-term youth of cells. Another from Johns Hopkins showed that happier people are a third to 50% less likely to have a heart attack compared to those who were unhappy. Some studies suggest that happier people may be better able to resist getting a cold when exposed to certain viruses. Better overall health and a less inflammatory lifestyle also impact the skin positively in multiple ways — not just in the inherent glow that so many of us notice but in the skin’s actual tissue. A recent study (pending publication) on two groups of psoriasis patients showed that an anti-inflammatory diet reduced inflammation in biopsied tissue samples.

While an occasional night enjoying cocktails with friends or spending a day on the couch could help relieve stress, keep them as treats (not your norm). Actively practicing happiness — daily exercise, getting 7-8 hours of sleep, meditation, a gratitude journal, eating healthily — helps you fight boredom, stress, and inflammation, creating a beneficial, self-sustaining cycle of calm, positivity, and health.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99

14. Jacobs, T.L., et al., Intensive meditation training, immune cell telomerase activity, and psychological mediators. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2010), doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.09.010 and Positive psychological changes from meditation training linked to cellular health. UC Davis News and Information. Nov. 3, 2010.

15. Yanek, LR, Kral, BG,, Moy, TF, Vaidya, D, Lazo, M, Becker, LC, Becker, DM. Effect of Positive Well-Being on Incidence of Symptomatic Coronary Artery Disease. American Journal of Cardiology. Volume 112, Issue 8 , Pages 1120-1125, 15 October 2013.

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

BOOZE (LIQUOR): Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Not An Allergen

Booze (Liquor)

Liquor — whisky, bourbon, vodka, gin, tequila, rum and their cousins — are not top contact allergens. Some people can have a type B-cell allergy to alcohol (normally determined by a prick test) and if you do, don’t drink it. But this type of allergy operates differently from a skin contact allergy (type T cells are involved, and it’s determined by a patch test).

Some alcohols (like benzyl alcohol and cinnamic alcohol) are published contact allergens, but liquors aren’t. Even ethyl and isopropyl alcohol are irritants but not contact allergens. Not that anyone is applying liquor on their skin but, just in case the idea occurs to you, don’t. While not top contact allergens, they’d irritate your skin and dry it out.

If you have sensitive skin, what would be more of a concern are artificial mixers which tend to contain flavors, fragrances, dyes, and/or preservatives. For the same reason, avoid booze that has added artificial flavors (flavors are related to fragrance) like liquor with cinnamon, for example. Fresh flavors, mixers and garnishes might also be a problem if you’ve patch tested positive to lemon, limes, orangesmint, roses, and other fresh additions to popular cocktails — several plants, fruits and flowers are top contact allergens.

A final note: even if you’re not allergic to alcohol, drink it in moderation. Besides the obvious reasons, it is also inflammatory and inflammation can cause, trigger, or worsen many skin conditions, from acne to eczema, rosacea, psoriasis, and more.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)

Categories
Allergen, Not An Allergen Featured

COUCH POTATO-ing: Allergen or Not An Allergen?

Allergen

Being a Couch Potato

We have yet to come across “couch potato” in a patch test tray and we’re believers in the occasional let-it-all-go-the-couch-is-my-home-for-a-few-days-don’t-judge-me-or-my-unshowered-self indulgence. It can be a form of de-stressing. Stress is inflammatory. Ergo, if being a couch potato helps you de-stress, it is good. As with many things, however, this is true if you indulge in moderation. If it remains a treat — as opposed to your daily norm — couch potato-ing has our vote. But it does come with its fair share of allergen exposure:

The Furniture Itself

This beloved piece of furniture can be a minefield if you’ve patch tested positive to dyes, certain textiles, or latex (the foam can be an issue). When couch shopping, look for untreated fabrics (organic, even) in white or very pale colors, or uncolored. In addition to having less allergens, natural fabrics tend to breathe more, allowing for better air circulation and less trapped heat. Heat and sweat can increase the chances of a reaction. Another reason to choose natural over synthetic fabrics: formaldehyde is commonly used to preserve upholstery, especially synthetic fabrics. Formaldehyde is both an irritant and an allergen. For new couches, let them “breathe out” the formaldehyde by placing them in a well ventilated room with open windows or air them out on the terrace.

If your allergies developed later, consider getting a slipcover or large cloth in an untreated canvas (or other untreated, uncolored fabric) to serve as a barrier between you and the sofa.

Cleaning

Most fabric cleaners are scented and contain other allergens like preservatives. If you can’t find a hypoallergenic option, try mixing your own in a spray bottle. Take about 1/4 cup of clear vinegar and add 1/2 a tablespoon of Fawn & Launder or any of our hypoallergenic shampoos, and 3/4 cup warm water. Shake well in the bottle. Spray the sofa and grab a soft, white, cotton cloth to scrub in circular motions. Rinse the cloth and moisten it with clean, warm water. Repeat the circular motion to rinse.

If you’re using a slipcover, wash it with Fawn & Launder. If you’re using a non-hypoallergenic laundry detergent, line dry whenever possible. This kills more microbes and helps remove leftover chlorine and other chemicals from fabric treatments.

Dust mites

A dust mite allergy is not a skin allergy but it can irritate the skin and cause itching. Like food and pet allergies, a dust mite allergy functions differently (type B cells) from skin allergies (type T cells are involved). A skin prick test will show you if you are allergic to dust mites, and a skin patch test tells you if you can come into contact with dust mites (more accurately, with a protein in their feces). For management, dust your couch often, using a moistened duster which picks up more particles than when a dry one. Vacuum your sofa, slipcovers, throws, and pillows frequently — use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Wash and dry pillowcases, throws and slipcovers every week.

Other Not-Good Things For Your Skin

The above are just the top contact allergens. There other unhealthy things for your skin:

  • Couch potato-ing these days means being on your phone a lot. The visible light emitted by your phone — and tablet, monitor, TV, reading light, and other indoor lights — causes hyperpigmentation.
  • Chronic contact with a couch with your allergens can also cause pigmented contact dermatitis. PCD is more common in people with darker or mixed phototypes. It can be misdiagnosed because it does not go through the usual redness, then itching and thickening of the skin. Instead, over time the skin just darkens. People don’t usually complain about it or see a doctor for it because PCD develops slowly over time. What can help with a diagnosis is looking at skin darkening on the areas of contact with things that you don’t tend to think you come into contact with as much…such as the couch. This is more true where your exposed skin comes into contact with the couch. Wearing clothing that covers you up more may help unless the clothing itself contains your allergens.
  • Hours on the couch can also promote bad eating, poor sleep, and lack of exercise, all of which are inflammatory. Inflammation can cause acne and trigger flare-ups.

So yes, especially when things get really stressful, do couch potato occasionally. But keep it occasional and mindful of allergens you may come into contact with so that you can prepare accordingly and prevent skin problems.

If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.

To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.

For more:

On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.

To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.

Main References: 

Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.

1. Warshaw, E.M., Maibach, H.I., Taylor, J.S., et al. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012. Dermatitis. 2015; 26: 49-59

2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009

3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.

4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97

5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.

6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.

7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.

8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38. 

9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.

10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.

11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.

12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.

13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99

Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis SocietyDermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.


Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)