Allergy & Asthma Affiliates
Srinagesh Paluvoi, MD
Allergist & Immunologist located in Lansdowne, VA & Gainesville, VA
We depend on chemicals, whether they’re the ingredients in your skin moisturizer, a detergent you love for cleaning the house, or a chemical you use on the job. But you can also be severely allergic to the same chemicals. When you suspect a chemical allergy, Srinagesh Paluvoi, MD, FAAP, FACAAI, at Allergy & Asthma Affiliates, is the expert you need to get to the bottom of the problem, determine which chemical is the culprit, and develop a workable treatment plan. To schedule an appointment, call one of the offices in Lansdowne or Gainesville, Virginia, or use the online booking feature.
What is a chemical allergy?
A chemical allergy develops when your immune system overreacts to a chemical. As a result, the chemical is labeled as a danger to your body and becomes an allergen that causes allergic reactions. Chemical allergies may cause allergic contact dermatitis or a respiratory reaction such as allergic rhinitis and asthma.
What symptoms develop due to a chemical allergy?
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Red or scaly skin
- Blisters that ooze
- Burning or itching
- Swollen eyes or face
- Hives or skin rash
- Wheezing or coughing
- Difficulty breathing
If your skin is frequently exposed, it may become darkened, thickened, and cracked.
What chemicals cause allergies?
You might immediately think of everyday chemicals such as detergents and ammonia in cleaning products. There are also many chemicals you may not know about. For example, chromium is used in gloves and purses to give leather flexibility, while nickel is commonly found in jewelry. Both chemicals frequently cause allergic reactions.
Chemical allergies represent a significant occupational health hazard, with hundreds of chemicals known to cause allergic contact dermatitis and asthma. In fact, allergic contact dermatitis accounts for 10-15% of all occupational diseases.
There are too many environmental and occupational chemicals to give you a comprehensive list. These are a few examples of allergy-causing chemicals found in personal care products:
- Perfumes used in soaps, moisturizers, and cosmetics
- Preservatives and antibacterial chemicals added to liquids
- Chemicals that add thickness or color
- Formaldehyde resin in nail care products
- Sunscreens found in moisturizers, lip balms, and makeup
Most of the same chemicals also cause irritant contact dermatitis, which triggers allergic symptoms but isn’t an allergen because the immune system isn’t involved.
How is a chemical allergy treated?
Dr. Paluvoi begins by getting details about your medical history and symptoms. He can narrow down your potential chemical allergens when you can describe details such as what you were doing in the 24-48 hours before your allergic reaction and what products you were using. If there’s any doubt about the allergen, Dr. Paluvoi may recommend allergy testing.
Once your testing is finished, your treatment begins by determining how you can avoid the chemical. Simple steps, such as wearing nonallergic gloves or using green products, may be all you need to prevent an allergic reaction.
If you suspect you have chemical allergies, call Allergy & Asthma Affiliates or schedule an appointment online.