A couple years ago I was diagnosed by my allergist with a propylene glycol allergy. The way I found out was in a way accidental but apparently meant to be. I have had a lot of problems with air conditioning in the past. I could barely sit in my office a few years ago during the summer. I was fine if I just walked outside but inside I had coughing fits, headaches, brain fuzz, nasal problems, etc. Most searches I did pinned those problems on mold or dust but I wasn't convinced. I remembered that I had a huge problem coming out of anethesia from a surgery years ago. I was coughing my head off thinking I was going to die and nobody seemed remotely concerned. My doctor tried to convince me that anethesia is drying and that coughing was normal. However, I felt like this was beyond normal. So I Googled common ingredient in air conditioning and anethesia and came up with propylene glycol. I asked my allergist if he would test me for that propylene glycol allergy. I was surprised when he agreed. He had to special order the test and I had to sign a waiver that if my insurance company did not pay that I would. Of course I did but my insurance company ended up paying. So there were two strengths of PG that he ordered and two types of tests. The first was a prick test on my forearm. They were both positive as weals formed. One (the stronger concentration) was almost immediate. The other (weaker concentration)took slightly longer. I then had a patch test on my arm where they put some of the solution on a disc and tape it to your arm and you cannot wash that area for something like 48 hours. During that time I had every symptom on the propylene glycol MSDS sheet and called my doctor only one day later. They advised that if I really felt that bad to bail on the test. I really wanted to see what would happen though so I continued and returned to the doctor the next day. I was extremely shocked to see when they removed the tape that I did not have a single mark on my skin. So this means I do not get contact dermatitis from PG products but have lots of problems ingesting, inhaling, or absorbing anything with propylene glycol. By the way, it turns out NOT to be my problem with air conditioning as I later found out that there is no propylene glycol in our office air conditioner system. My allergist had never tested anyone ever for propylene glycol allergy so this was all new to him and he really did not know how to approach it. So I basically had to learn how to deal with it on my own. And mostly based on other people's Internet stories as I have been unable to find much written on it by the medical community. I asked my doctor if he would test me for other chemical allergies but he declined saying that if I felt I had some good reason to he would (given what had happened up to this point, perhaps this was an insurance issue). I do have a prescription for allergy testing for various anethetic drugs due to being denied a surgery day of because the surgical center turned out to be totally unprepared for me. I have been to four different labs only to be turned down for testing because the labs don't do testing for the items listed on my prescription. My allergist suggested that I look into a doctor that specializes in chemical allergies/sensitivities. So far those kind of doctors are far from where I live, don't accept insurance, and are very expensive. Some of the ones I have found closer to me don't do chemical testing and/or don't understand it.
I have read other people's accounts of being allergic to polyethylene glcol when they are also allergic to propylene glycol so I also avoid PEG. And since my nails turn yellow and become very ridged with regular nail polish, I suspect I am allergic or sensitive to formaldehyde. My allergist agreed to my request of declining the flu shot (after every year giving me no choice in the matter) since it contains formaldehyde and I haven't been sick since then. I also think I have issues with nanoparticles. If someone sprays aerosol sunscreen or Lysol, I go into a bad coughing/unable to breathe frenzy. Finally, in this big mess, I think I may have also developed an allergy to nickel. I started to get a rash under my wedding rings, which are white gold. I get them cleaned and rhodium plated every year and that keeps me able to wear them.
I was already a healthy eater and used "healthy" products. I made some further modifications and was able to completely go off of asthma medications I had been taking for twenty years and my "chronic asthmatic bronchitis" subsided. I no longer have to go through the Decadron, prednisone, Z-pack, nebulizer cycle that happened more often than my allergist was comfortable with. I still cough some but from seasonal allergies, it is nothing like it was.
WOW! That's very interesting that your skin doesn't react to propylene glycol, but you do react to it when ingested. I react to both. It makes me think about this girl whose story I read: her skin is allergic to water, yet she can drink it. I think it sucks that your doctor won't test you for the wide range of chemicals. If you want to make the hike to Chicagoland, one of the BEST allergic patch test specialists is out here. His name is Dr. Scheman and he changed my world. You can also search for some other doctors here. Also, thanks for sharing that propylene glycol is commonly found in anesthesia (ugh).