I am allergic to almonds in food. Should I avoid almonds in cosmetics?

by toxicologist Ewa Daniél 

 

Not necessarily. Food allergy and skin allergy (contact dermatitis) are two different types of allergies.

Food allergy is what we call type 1 allergy and skin allergy is a type 4 allergy. 

Read about their differences and why people with a food allergy towards almonds can use AllergyCertified products with almonds in it.

 

Food allergy 

Allergy to food is an immune system reaction that occurs after eating certain foods. 

For example when you are allergic to almonds you react to the proteins in the almonds after you have eaten them, because your immune system mistakenly identifies the almonds as harmful. And thus your immune system triggers cells to release an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) to neutralize the allergen (in this case the almonds).

Food allergy is hereditary meaning that if your parents or siblings are allergic there is a bigger risk of developing allergy to food. Food allergy is not necessarily chronic meaning that for example children with allergy to for example milk can grow out of it.

The reaction is immediate and will typically happen from minutes up to two hours after you have eaten the almonds. The symptoms can be in your eyes, nose, mouth and digestive system.

In some cases, the reactions can be severe and worst-case cause anaphylaxis shock.

Diagnosis

If you want to know if you have food allergy you will need a blood or skin prick test. The blood test will show if there is an increased level of antibodies in your blood.

The skin prick test is a test on the skin where a drop of a liquid that contains the food allergen is pricked in to your skin with a needle. The result will usually appear in 30 minutes.  

 

Contact dermatitis/skin allergy

Allergic contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction which can happen when your skin is in direct skin contact with the allergen.
The chemical must penetrate the skin and react with the t-cells. Usually you would say that the smaller a molecule the bigger is the risk of penetration and thus allergy.

The most common allergens are nickel, perfume, specific preservatives and dyes.

Skin allergy is NOT inherited from your parents or siblings, it’s an allergy everyone can develop. The more potent an allergen and the higher a concentration you get exposed to, the higher is the risk of developing an allergy.

When you have developed skin allergy to a chemical, you will be allergic to this chemical for the rest of your life, and you need to avoid skin contact with the specific chemical.

The reaction is a late reaction and will typically happen from 24-48 hours (sometimes up to 72 hours) after you have been exposed. The skin will be red, and you will develop eczema. In severe cases you can develop edema and in very severe cases for example to PPD in hair color people need to be hospitalized (but this is seldom).

 

Diagnosis

To know if you have skin allergy you need to go to a dermatologist who can make a patch test. The chemical you will be tested for will be tested on your skin with a patch on, and the dermatologist will check your skin after 24-48 and sometimes 72 hours to see if there’s any reactions.

Skin allergy to almonds is very rare, where food allergy to almonds is more normal.

So, to shorten it up, skin allergy and food allergy are two totally different allergies, both reactions, time and symptoms are different.

Studies show that people with allergy to almonds in food will be able to use a cosmetic product with almonds without having allergic reactions since it is two different kind of allergies and both the allergens you react to and the reaction itself are different.

But if the almonds are used in a product for lips there can be (a low) risk of allergy if you swallow some of the lipstick which will get to your digestive system.

 

AllergyCertified

Allergy to almonds in cosmetics is very rare and we can thus allow almond oil in certified products. But for product used on the lips such as lipstick, lip balm and the like we only allow potential food allergens if the ingredients have been refined and the proteins destroyed. So that even people with food allergy to almonds can use the products without having allergic reaction.

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