Medicine and Beauty: Allergens in Cosmetics
Each person wants to look beautiful, and he or she uses cosmetics for this purpose. Cosmetic products may provoke allergic reactions in some people. Allergic reactions are the immune system’s over-reaction to substances that may otherwise be harmless. An allergen can trigger the immune system to release chemical substances, such as antibodies, that result in allergy symptoms. Allergic reactions to cosmetics most often appear as itchy, red rashes on the skin – or contact dermatitis.
Regarding possible allergens in cosmetics, the best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to know what you are sensitive to and how to avoid it. One way to accomplish this is by carefully reading the product ingredient panel and avoiding ingredients you know or think you are allergic to. However, it is not enough to check for terms like “hypoallergenic”, “fragrance-free”. Certain ingredients may be listed generally as “fragrance,” without identifying the specific ingredients. Some products contain ingredients that may cause irritation, regardless of whether you have allergies or not.
Allergic reactions can range in severity, but may include hives, itchy skin, rash, peeling skin, facial swelling, irritation of the eyes, nose and mouth, wheezing, and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Symptoms of anaphylaxis: shortness of breath; light-headedness; chest pain; a rapid, weak pulse; nausea. Fragrance ingredients may also affect the respiratory system. This is especially true in patients with asthma, allergic rhinitis, and viral respiratory infections. For people with sensitivities to certain fragrances, inhaling them may result in shortness of breath, the sensation of being suffocated, coughing, phlegm, a runny, headache, chest tightness, wheezing. Sensitivity to allergens can become more severe over time.
You don’t have to wait until you have an allergic reaction to try and figure out what you are allergic to. You can get tested. Knowing precisely what allergen has caused a reaction will help you to avoid further exposure to the substance. Testing for allergens includes the following tests: patch test;prick test;intradermal test;allergy blood test.