Cosmetic Allergies (cont.)

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Where do cosmetic skin reactions occur? What are symptoms and signs of a makeup allergy?

Since cosmetics are most commonly applied to the female face, this is site most commonly involved in cosmetic skin reactions and inflammatory dermatitis. The rash produced by such a reaction often appears as a scaling, itchy red area, an eczematous dermatitis, usually confined to the area where the cosmetic was applied. It is often very difficult to distinguish on the basis of appearance whether the reaction is allergic or irritant. Sometimes there may be a stinging sensation soon after the offending cosmetic is applied, or the reaction can be delayed for a day or two. Less commonly, reactions may appear as blackheads, folliculitis, hives, and darkened skin.

What is on the cosmetic label?

The ingredients in a cosmetic are required to be listed on the label according to the quantity. Any ingredient could potentially produce a reaction, but certain ingredients seem to be more likely to cause problems. The use of the terms hypoallergenic, pure, and natural on the label have very little scientific meaning and are essentially marketing jargon. Cosmetics that use the term organic must be manufactured according to certain USDA criteria that have little to do with consumer safety.

How can I be tested for a cosmetic sensitivity?

If a cosmetic is being considered a potential cause of a reaction, the patient can perform a "use" test over three or four days by repeatedly applying the substance to the same site on forearm skin. If a reaction appears, further types of allergy testing can be performed by a health-care professional to determine the precise substance of the cosmetic mixture that is responsible. One can then avoid the offending product as well as avoiding further exposure to the allergenic component in other cosmetic products.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/2/2015

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