Diary from an anti allergista

There are things in the world of health we can do nothing about. Different diseases have random hit rates. It can happen that one of your most fit friends suddenly collapses and has to live with not being able to move. Maybe your mother’s best friend, who never smoked a cigarette in her life, gets cancer in the lungs and dies. And you are left with a huge question mark in your head and the only sentence you can hear in a long time is: why?

This is not the case when it comes to skin allergy or contact dermatitis as your doctor would call it. Skin allergy is mainly a disease you get when you have been in contact with specific ingredients. This means and here comes the good part, that you have a very good chance of preventing skin allergy. My diary that I will publish once a week will invite you on my journey from an anti allergist in the sense ‘I know nothing about skin allergy’ to an anti allergist in the sense ‘I know enough about skin allergy to never get it’.

Chapter 1 Three years ago I had no idea what phenoxyethanol was. I had never heard of isothiazolinone let alone did I even consider I would ever be able to pronounce it. I had no idea that there are remembering cells in our bodies. I didn’t know that more and more young people get allergic towards perfume. This list could go on with all the things I did not know. Three years ago.

Still today there are plenty of things I don’t know when it comes to skin allergy. But at least I know more now than I did in January 2012 when I started working with allergy labels.

First of all I know now that when I talk about skin allergy your doctor calls it contact dermatitis. Skin allergy is one of the most common chronic diseases we know. If you do get skin allergy it is very likely it will be towards either perfume or preservatives (and yes, I also giggled the first time I said preservative and knew I talked about the ingredient that makes sure your lotion does not get filled with bacteria).

Perfume allergy used to be called the old woman’s disease because it was old women who got allergic to their perfumes after they had used them for years on the same spots on their bodies, typically on their wrists and their neck. Just think about all the movies you have seen where a beautiful woman sprays a little perfume on her neck. Today we find perfume in many, many cosmetic products. This means that we way too often are exposed to perfume and therefore the risk of becoming allergic has increased and the demographic has changed. Today we still see a lot of women in the perfume allergy group, but we also find children in a young age developing allergy towards perfume, the same for teenagers and men.

Therefore, my dear anti allergistas, when you buy cosmetic products ask for products that do not contain perfume. And when you do use perfume, spray it in your hair or on your clothes. That way you still smell nice, but your skin is not in direct contact with the ingredient.