Nov 20, 2022

Personal Care Product and Makeup Allergies

Have you ever developed a red or burn-like rash, bumps, blisters or itchy, painful or burning skin? There are many reasons why this reaction may have occurred, but personal care products are often the culprit.

This reaction is called contact dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin resulting from direct contact of a substance with the surface of the skin. There are two types: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Irritant contact dermatitis is the more common type and occurs when people touch something, called an irritant, that they are sensitive to. Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when people touch something, called an allergen, that they are allergic to. People with allergies react to things like cosmetics, detergents, and latex that don’t affect most people.

Irritants and allergens that may cause contact dermatitis include cosmetics, dye used in clothing, fur and leather products, fragrances and perfumes added to products, hair coloring, latex, medicines, nickel, nail care products, soaps, cleaning products, poison ivy and other plants. A few things that are released into the air, such as ragweed pollen and insecticide spray can also cause contact dermatitis.

Did you know that some products cause contact dermatitis only when they touch the skin and are exposed to sunlight? They include sunscreens, antibiotics applied to the skin, shaving lotions and some perfumes.

Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between irritant and allergic contact dermatitis because the symptoms are so similar. Contact dermatitis symptoms usually occur within 10 days of the first time a person comes in contact with an irritant or allergen they are sensitive to. The next time that person touches the irritant, the more severe the reaction may be.

Symptoms range from mild to severe on the area of the skin touched by the irritant or allergen and may include redness and swelling, itching, itchy bumps or blisters that may ooze fluid, rashes, skin that is warm or hot to the touch and cracking or peeling of the skin.

Keep in mind that other people cannot catch your rash, even if they touch it. Even in the case of poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac, once you’ve washed the oil off of your skin others cannot get a rash from you.

Contact us or schedule an appointment if the rash is persistent, near your eyes, covers a large part of your body, or you cannot stop the itching. Your allergist can prescribe medicines to help you or offer patch testing to find out if a specific allergen is the cause of your contact dermatitis.