Difficulty Of Being Allergic to PG

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About four years ago, when I was in seventh grade, I had dry skin on my face that my dad gave me some Eucerin lotion for. The next day I woke up with my face so swollen and irritated that I couldn’t open my eyes fully. I looked like a tomato with teeny slits for eyes. For about a week my face stayed like this, rashy, irritated, puffy and peeling (it’s gross). I finally got diagnosed by a dermatologist as being allergic to PG and Propylene Oxide after missing almost a week and a half of school. I got some desonide cream from the local Walgreens pharmacy and life was good. Until my most recent reaction. My family went to a concert for my moms birthday, and the band’s techs were running an absurd amount of fog from the machines, and it only took about 10 minutes for my skin to start itching and burning. We left after being there for 30 minutes total (the band feels really bad, my dad is friends with their light tech) and then had an awful 2 1/2 hour car ride home. I went to our new doctor for a prescription (my old tube of desonide cream was empty) and I went on my merry(ish) way to get the prescription from the pharmacy. I put some of the cream on the second we were out of the store, because at this point I had been in pain for 3 days straight. The cream tingled, which I thought was normal, and the swelling went down. I woke up this morning with my eyes puffed up again, so I put my cream on, and hoped for the best so I could make it to work. Within minutes of putting on the cream, my entire face started burning, itching and swelling. We checked the ingredients of my prescription (which was a topical corticosteroid I had used for 4 years but a different brand) and it had PG. I did research to find out more about my allergy (this blog has helped me so much, by the way, thanks) and found that the best place to find the kind of corticosteroids that I need is Canada. I live in the middle of the US. Im fine with reading labels, im used to it. What I’m not used to is my face feeling like it’s going to implode. If you have any tips, tricks, etc. it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for your help :)
— Anonymous

Hello, fellow PG allergy warrior!

I am SO GLAD you brought up the theater smoke thing because I recently ended up bowing out of a family outing because I was told theater fog would be present. I won't get into the details because this is about YOU, but the whole situation was really aggravating on SO MANY LEVELS. It's amazing how many different types of things contain propylene glycol... from food to body products to medication and theater smoke... it's hard to avoid! People joke sometimes and say things like, "Man, I bet you're even allergic to soap!".... thinking they're being funny and extreme, but their face always drops when I tell them they're accurate. I'm very grateful for this online community because most people just do not get it. How could they?

For steroid ointments, I had success with Desoximetasone. I haven't used it in over a year because I hate paying for expensive medications and people's skin can become dependent on topical steroids and thin the skin... not good. But if it must be used, what else can you do? I've tried oral steroids (Prednisone and between how bloated it made me and the side effects I read about, like, psychotic breakdowns... I was like, no thank you).

As far as tips go, it sounds like you're on the right track. Reading ingredient labels is huge as is doing your research. The most aggravating thing about propylene glycol is that is goes by many names! Here's a list of alternate names. Definitely stay away from modified food starch... read more about that here. Many people with PG allergy will tell you to avoid propanediol, so I looked into it. I also got some doctors involved and you can read about that here. This is also a little list of other items to watch out for.

I hope this helps! Best of luck on your journey!

XOXO, Jennifer