Skin Allergy Triggers and Testing

Dealing with Skin Allergies: What You Need to Know

Have you ever run through the aisles at CVS or Duane Reade and not know what products will be the best for your sensitive skin? Because there are so many cosmetic skin care products on the market, the number of allergens is endless.  And don’t get fooled by labels. Just because a product may be labeled hypo-allergenic, this is not a guarantee it is allergy proof or safe for those with sensitive skin types. Many of these skin care products are actually skin allergy triggers. Hypo-allergenic really just means less additives of allergens. 

Although the incidence of cosmetic allergies are not known, some studies suggest up to 10% of the general population will react to a product at one point. Many over the counter cosmetic products contain additives such as propylene glycol, fragrance, paraphenylenediamine (found in hair dyes), benzyl alcohol, and Balsam of Peru. All of these aforementioned additives are common skin allergens in many over the counter products.

Fragrance is the most common allergy in cosmetics.  If a product is labeled as “unscented,” it does not mean it is “fragrance-free.” In fact, it may still contain fragrance.  Look for products that are labeled “fragrance-free” instead to ensure you are avoiding the allergen.  Some other preservatives that are common causes of contact dermatoses are parabens and formaldehyde, which are in many shampoos.

If you experience certain sensitivities to over the counter products, our office offers a form of allergy testing, patch testing, where we apply 80 common allergens to your back. On day one, the patches are applied. 48 hours later the patches are removed and 48 hours after that, we examine for delayed reactions. This can help you find the products most suitable for your skin and avoid the ones that cause irritation to your skin. 

The Best Products for Sensitive Skin Types

Deodorants: Fragrance-free Dove deodorant for sensitive skin. If you find difficulty with any deodorant, you can make this homemade deodorant remedy: Coconut oil mixed with baking soda and starch.

Detergent:  Stick to liquid laundry detergent instead of powder types. Look specifically for fragrance-free laundry detergent, too.  We like Tide Free and Gentle

Make up remover: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleansing Cloths. Not only can you use these amazing skincare wipes on the go after exercise, but they will also remove all makeup and residue on the skin. A great first step in your skincare regimen.

Facial moisturizer: Neutrogena Hydroboost Gel-Cream, this is for extra dry skin and contains purified hyaluronic acid! Also, it’s free of dyes and fragrance. 

Body moisturizer: Believe it or not, but coconut oil is a great body moisturizer for sensitive skin. Coconut oil is non-greasy and has many antibacterial properties.

Chapstick: Aquaphor Healing Ointment Lip Repair, free of preservatives and fragrance. Dermatologists love this brand!

Sunscreen: Neutrogena Pure and Free Baby, a great and safe sunscreen for both adults and babies.

Body Wash: Dove Body Wash for Sensitive Skin. This body wash will not remove the protective oils on the skin, which is very important for making sure skin stays hydrated.

Make-up: Always try your own “patch test” before you purchase any makeup by applying the product to your forearm. I recommend Colorescience mineral makeup or Bare Minerals makeup.

About Schweiger Dermatology Group

Schweiger Dermatology Group was founded to help make excellent dermatology care accessible throughout the Northeast. In 2010, Dr. Eric Schweiger started the practice with a single location in Midtown Manhattan. When he saw the need for high-quality dermatology care that did not require weeks or months of waiting to see a qualified provider, his vision of a multi-location practice was born.

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