Posts filed under Allergies

Living With Propylene Glycol Allergy

I'm just gonna say it: living with propylene glycol allergy can be a real bitch. It's in such a wide range of products that it's practically impossible to avoid. The only real way you can eliminate it from your life is to adapt a new lifestyle by taking a look at every product that touches your skin. Being diagnosed with propylene glycol allergy can even mean needing to switch careers. Think about all the products hair dressers come into contact with or all of the products skin care professionals use at corporate spas. It's not like you can just bring in your own products. You have to use products approved by the company... I've heard that it's also used in factories to help plastic molds from sticking together. It's even used in bakeries that use boxed mixes!

So, What is Propylene Glycol?

It's a clear, ordorless, almost tasteless liquid which freezes at a lower than normal temperature. This is why you'll usually find it in anti-freeze. Since it's odorless and pretty tasteless (it's ever so slightly sweet), PG is perfect for dissolving other chemicals like flavoring into it.

Which Types of Products can Contain Propylene Glycol?

  • soap
  • body wash
  • shampoo
  • conditioner
  • make – up
  • deodorant
  • medicine (oral, injectable & topical)
  • theater smoke
  • botanical extracts
  • e-cigarettes
  • hand sanitizer
  • mouth wash
  • ointments
  • baby wipes
  • deodorant
  • gel cap pills and vitamins
  • eye drops
  • contact lens solution (even the solution in the lens packaging)
  • polyester resin (laminate countertops & more)
  • tobacco products
  • electronic cigarettes
  • vaporizers
  • anti-freeze
  • emergency eye wash stations
  • water-based paints
  • water-based system cleaners
  • processed food such as:
    • dry baking mixes
    • baked goods
    • potato salad
    • snack foods
    • salad dressing
    • coffee
    • salad dressings
    • sauces
    • modified food starch
    • artificial flavoring
    • extracts
    • candy
    • fast food
    • liquid sweeteners
    • ice cream
    • whipped dairy products
    • soda
    • food for dogs and sugar gliders

Propylene glycol is Sneaky

One would hope that reading ingredient labels would be enough, but sadly it isn't. For whatever crazy reason, hidden ingredients are completely legal! Whether it's food or a body product, companies can hide ingredients in their all day long. This is how it works: not every ingredient is pure, right? For example: modified food starch. What do you think that means? Really, without doing research.... a person would have no idea! The truth about modified food starch is that it can be modified with a whole bunch of different chemicals. All they have to do is call it modified food starch, though. Companies aren't required to tell you which chemicals the starch has been modified with. Read more about that here. Another example is the good ol' botanical extract. When you get a "natural" shampoo with all sorts of lovely smelling extracts... you're not necessarily getting a pure extract... and companies aren't required to disclose this either. This is how I learned about that whole thing.

Propylene Glycol also goes by more than one name. Not only does a person with PG allergy need to look for "propylene glycol" or PG on ingredient lists, they need to look for all of these as well. Make sure to scroll down to the comments for other alternate names added by readers of this blog. Even doctors are confused by Propylene Glycol's many names. I investigated whether or not Propylene Glycol and Propanediol are the same (read more about that) and here's what the doctors said.

PG Allergy at Your Job

Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, your employer is required to provide you with a safe work environment. For me, this means that I have a doctor's note requiring my desk to be covered in glass. At every place of employment that I've worked, the desks and counter tops are made of laminate. Laminate is that plastic-y, fake type of counter top. I figured out the link between PG and polyester resin after I noticed the underside of my right forearm developing eczema... not my left, though. The one thing I touched the most with my right forearm was the desk. I taped computer paper onto that area of the desk and sure enough, the eczema began disappearing. I did some research and found that propylene glycol is part of the production process of polyester resin. Read more about that here.

How to Live With This Allergy

  • Here's the hard and fast rule: if there's a word before or after "propylene glycol" or "PG", then it contains propylene glycol and you must avoid it. If there is a word, letter or number between "propylene glycol" or "PG", then it's a different chemical unless you're allergic to that other chemical, you don't need to avoid it.
  • Read every single ingredient label
  • Make sure all your doctors and dentist know about this allergy
  • Have your pharmacy check to see if the ingredients have changed before filling any prescription
  • Get the list of ingredients before you're injected with anything
  • Don't assume that your doctor or anybody else has checked the ingredients. Double check. I learned this the hard way.
  • Educate yourself by doing research about the content of anything you consume or put on your skin... especially when it comes to hidden ingredients
  • Find other people with the same allergy
  • And last but not least... take time for YOU. In the beginning, this allergy can be overwhelming, aggravating, depressing and as a result, it can really ruin your mood. Sometimes it helps the mind to create a little PG-Free environment at home. Make yourself a recipe completely from scratch and savor every bite... cozy up with a bunch of fluffy blankets and your pj's while you read a good book or watch a movie. Go to sleep early and allow yourself some rest and relaxation. You deserve it!

Stories From Other People With Propylene Glycol Allergy:

source: wikipedia

Five Ways to Reduce Cold Weather Allergens

This post is brought to you by Olivia Jones and it's her very first blog post on my website! Olivia is a psychologist, passionate writer, an entrepreneur, a traveler and conscious consumer, seeking healthy and sustainable products to incorporate into the lives of her family. Here are her five best tips for reducing cold Weather Allergens:

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People often wrongly assume that spring and summer are the only seasons that bring all those sneezy joys of allergic reactions to those who are lucky enough to experience them. But fear not! Cold months of the year have a whole range of allergens floating in the air as well, equally annoying and debilitating if not tackled properly. 

Whether your symptoms resemble a typical cold, which might make it more difficult to treat unless you can tell the difference, or you’re struggling with rashes and skin irritations, winter can be quite a pain in the neck. Instead of leaving things to chance, you can implement certain lifestyle changes and enjoy the snow-laden months with fewer interruptions and buzz-kills!

Plan Ahead

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Winter lovers everywhere hate the very notion of winter allergies, because they are often prompted by doctors to stay inside and avoid your allergens. And in order to avoid high levels of juniper pollen, mold or mildew, it may sometimes be better to stick to a warm cup of cocoa and snuggle inside a blanket with a good book in your hands. But you cannot possibly hibernate the entire winter, so how can you organize your outings more efficiently?

Use your local weather forecast to make sure you avoid peak allergen times in your area, and schedule your outdoor fun time during those hours when you have the least chances of experiencing an allergy attack. The same goes for picking the right spots to visit – steer clear of areas that are too humid and where mold thrives in abundance. 

Revise your hygiene 

First thing’s first! You may feel that a shower as soon as you return to your toasty retreat is enough to kill those damn irritants from outside. But unfortunately, we often track our allergens inside on our shoes and clothes, so having a solid doormat can save you a lot of trouble with allergies. And although you cannot possibly wash everything every time you put it on, hanging it out into the sunlight and fresh air can help reduce their effect.

Moreover, you may want to ask your guests to lose the shoes at the front door as a precaution. When it comes to bedding, perhaps the weekly change of sheets and pillowcases isn’t good enough for your allergies, so you may need to pick it up a notch. Try finding bedding made of hypoallergenic fabric, air them as many times as possible, and keep your jammies and your clothes in the same allergy-friendly-fabric range. This may impose some limitations on your style, but think of it as a fashion challenge!

Take a deep breath

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Cold weather and gloomy skies often keep us uninspired when it comes to opening those windows regularly, so we spend our days in stuffy rooms with high concentrations of dust, pet dander and other common irritants. Why not start out by finding the best air purifier for allergies for your home, and adding plants (the ones you’re not allergic to, hopefully) to cleanse your indoor air?

These additions can be especially useful during winter, and while you sleep, as your respiratory system will finally get a moment of peace and you’ll be able to rest properly and reset your immune system. Ideally, you can also organize an occasional weekend excursion into nature, where you can detox your body from urban pollution and help reduce your allergies in the right environment. 
 

Cleanliness 101

Spending hours every couple of days to make your home squeaky clean is not just a hassle, but a potential hazard for your allergy-ridden immune system if you don’t choose the right supplies. Sure, they may be effective in killing germs, but if they are highly toxic and filled with chemicals, maybe exposing yourself to them so often can only cause more harm than good.

Instead, you can opt for equally powerful, but milder, natural versions of cleansers that are not just eco-friendly (a great perk nonetheless), but also don’t wreak havoc on your body. You can either make your own by mixing certain cleansing ingredients, or opt for store-bought products that will keep your health intact! 

To learn more about Olivia follow her on Twitter!

8 Different Types of Eczema

Being a graphic designer, it only made sense for me to make an infographic for this website. And this was a lot of fun!

Eczema isn't a one size fits all sort of thing. There's more than one type.

Which kind do you have?

Post up in the comments!

Are there any other infographics you'd like to see? I'd love to hear your suggestions.

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Product Review: Cottonique Socks from The Eczema Company

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Let me tell you something: Polyester allergy isn't easy. It makes finding socks incredibly annoying. Every sock I own, I've had to buy online. Never once have I found a sock in-store that's 100% cotton or free of polyester. 

It shouldn't be that difficult! I get it, though... polyester was brought into mainstream fashion to make clothing more durable and stretchy. It works. Just not for me.

Because of this, The Eczema Company sent me a pair of Cottonique socks and I happily tried them for a couple weeks. Giant thanks to The Eczema Company! You guys rock :-)

A post shared by The Allergista (@theallergista) on

The shop owner, Jennifer,  read my mind when she sent me tall black socks. I've been needing some! Most of my socks are the really short, athletic kind. Not only are these 100% cotton, but they're also:

  • Elastic-Free
  • Spandex & Latex Free
  • Formaldehyde Free
  • Bleach Free
  • Chlorine Free
  • Hypoallergenic
  • 100% Organic Cotton

And great for:

Here's what I thought: