Cosmetic Allergies (cont.)
Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD
Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- What are cosmetics? What is in makeup?
- What causes cosmetics reactions?
- Where do cosmetic skin reactions occur? What are symptoms and signs of a makeup allergy?
- What is on the cosmetic label?
- How can I be tested for a cosmetic sensitivity?
- What is the treatment for a makeup allergy?
- What is the prognosis of a cosmetics allergy?
- Is it possible to prevent a cosmetics allergy?
- Find a local Dermatologist in your town
Where do cosmetic skin reactions occur? What are symptoms and signs of a makeup allergy?
Since cosmetics are most commonly applied to the female face, this is site most commonly involved in cosmetic skin reactions and inflammatory dermatitis. The rash produced by such a reaction often appears as a scaling, itchy red area, an eczematous dermatitis, usually confined to the area where the cosmetic was applied. It is often very difficult to distinguish on the basis of appearance whether the reaction is allergic or irritant. Sometimes there may be a stinging sensation soon after the offending cosmetic is applied, or the reaction can be delayed for a day or two. Less commonly, reactions may appear as blackheads, folliculitis, hives, and darkened skin.
What is on the cosmetic label?
The ingredients in a cosmetic are required to be listed on the label according to the quantity. Any ingredient could potentially produce a reaction, but certain ingredients seem to be more likely to cause problems. The use of the terms hypoallergenic, pure, and natural on the label have very little scientific meaning and are essentially marketing jargon. Cosmetics that use the term organic must be manufactured according to certain USDA criteria that have little to do with consumer safety.
How can I be tested for a cosmetic sensitivity?
If a cosmetic is being considered a potential cause of a reaction, the patient can perform a "use" test over three or four days by repeatedly applying the substance to the same site on forearm skin. If a reaction appears, further types of allergy testing can be performed by a health-care professional to determine the precise substance of the cosmetic mixture that is responsible. One can then avoid the offending product as well as avoiding further exposure to the allergenic component in other cosmetic products.
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