ALLERGY STORIES: The Overuse of Propylene Glycol in Our Society

Thank you, Ms. Allergista, for your sharing and educating those of us who are new to our propylene glycol allergy. I have learned so much from your blog and appreciate it greatly. I also appreciate your positive outlook which is filled with hope—essential for all of us!

My propylene glycol horror story started a year ago last June. I was misdiagnosed with postmenopausal atropic vaginitis. The real issue, I believe, was the use of a lubricating “warming” gel that contained propylene glycol and inflamed the sensitive vaginal area. Anyway, I was prescribed three types of topical estrogen, all containing propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol, without any improvement in the redness, soreness of that area.In fact, it got so bad I began to bleed and had to have an endometrial biopsy done. Thankfully, the test was “normal” and I’m now positive the bleeding was the result of the terribly aggravated skin. When I went to a new dermatologist in November, she prescribed a steroid compound made with—you guessed it—propylene glycol and zinc oxide. I used that for three months, without significant improvement, until the end of February. That was when the compounding pharmacy incorrectly made the compound with the steroid (clobetisal propionate) CREAM instead of the OINTMENT which contained propylene glycol AND polyethylene glycol.( The pharmacist admitted to the mistake,) So..I had a tremendous allergic reaction-my whole body felt sick and the skin was beyond belief. After a round of Prednisone to settle things down, I had chemical skin testing done which confirmed my suspicions about PG and PEG and how it affects my body.

I feel very fortunate to now have my diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis, but am truly disappointed that the doctors know so little about the ingredients in medications. Even afte getting my allergy testing results back, I was prescribed Protopic to help stop my reaction. It helped quite a bit, but I never got completely cleared up. I questioned the doctors about one of its ingredients—propylene carbonate—and was told it was different from propylene glycol. Well, it may be different, but it is DERIVED from propylene glycol! So now I know I can’t use this ointment for “maintenance” either.

My major concerns about propylene glycol in our world are:1)the prevalence of “hidden” sources—ice cream; coffee; beer; produce sprayed with it;, cleaning products etc.; 2) the multitude of medications, OTC and prescriptions, containing it; 3) how to avoid PG with medical supplies/instruments; 4) the extensive names for PG—at least 144 synonyms! 5) safety concerns about public exposure and our environment because of its overuse and varying, unspecified concentrations; and lastly..6) THERE DOES NOT SEEM TO BE ANY PUBLIC CONCERN, EVEN WITH GROUPS LIKE ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP (EWP), ABOUT THE ACTIONS NEEDED TO BE DIRECTED TOWARD PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES, THE F.D.A., AND OTHER POLICY MAKING GROUPS TO BETTER STUDY THE IMPACT OF THIS TOXIC CHEMICAL IN OUR SOCIETY!!

Thank you for listening, I’m still trying to get a handle on this very complicated, abhorent allergen.

First of all, you are so welcome! Second of all - you really "get it"! I agree that it's amazing that this ingredient that's so commonly used gets such little attention. Propylene glycol is in everything - just like you said. I've also felt the same way about some doctors not paying enough attention to the ingredients in what they're prescribing. After my propylene glycol allergy diagnosis, I was given a bag of trial size products to use and some of them had PG! Many people have NO idea how much work we do to be our own advocates and how tiring it can be. Staying positive is important because that stuff can REALLY drag you down.

Thanks for passing along all this info - I had no idea that propylene carbonate is derived from PG... Sometimes I wish I could immortalize propylene glycol so I could give it a swift kick in the face! ;-)


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