ASK THE ALLERGISTA: PG Cross-contamination / Transfer


I am definitely allergic to propylene glycol and also tested positive for nickel and gold. I am not, however, reacting obviously to the metals although I do try to protect myself by avoiding them as much as possible. I have, unfortunately, been reacting constantly to PG for 16 mos. I have removed it from my food and home, but am having great difficulty with the outside world because of cross-contamination and transfer. I am just now starting to wear cotton gloves to work (a school setting with lots of hand sanitizer, wipes and cleaning solutions), the grocery story and doctors' offices. My questions are: 1)My initial site of PG exposure is in a sensitive area (the vulva). Is it possible that without continual contamination, my skin will become less vulnerable to reaction in time? 2) I have been on strong steroid ointments for almost a year and feel desperate about getting off them. How likely is it that some of my reactions could be associated with nickel or gold instead of PG? Do you think social interactions of handshakes, hugs and kisses from others is a primary source of transfer of PG? Thank you!



Hello, there! I'm allergic to 2/3 of those items - nickel and propylene glycol. Although, I do react to gold as well... not because it's gold, but because nickel is usually added to gold to make it harder. As far as your questions go, my answer to #1: Part of the thinking behind allergies is that if you're over exposed to a substance, your body ends up developing a negative reaction to said substance. I have read that by eliminating your allergen and slowly reintroducing it... your body slowly builds up a tolerance. This hasn't been the case for me, unfortunately, but everybody is different.

As for #2: I applaud you for wanting to get off topical steroids. I have some (Desoximetasone) that I keep in my purse just in case I can't get my skin to stop reacting, but I use it very sparingly. Your skin can become addicted to it, which is no good.

If you tested positive for gold and nickel allergy, it's definitely just as possible that your reaction is so nickel or gold. I would guess nickel as it's in so many different types of everyday items from door handles to eyelash curlers... oh and keys - keys are fuuuuull of nickel. Transference can happen with anything - even nickel. I actually wrote a whole post on nickel transference after figuring out that what my friend was suffering from. It can happen with propylene glycol and it can happen with nickel as well. Once I became more conscious of what I was touching, my skin improved greatly. I definitely suggest buying this nickel testing kit and if your nickel allergy is severe... use something like a bandanna to open doors in public. It helps my day to day SO much. My palms would be forever itchy if I didn't use the bandannas.

My best of wishes go out to you in this new journey. I hope you find some relief soon!


The Allergista