Cosmetic Allergies (cont.)

How are cosmetic reactions treated?

Treatment generally involves avoiding the products causing the symptoms. Over-the-counter creams and ointments that contain cortisone, such as hydrocortisone (Cortisone 10) and hydrocortisone acetate (Cort-aid), may be used to help control itching, swelling, and redness. In more severe cases, a prescription-strength medication may be needed to relieve symptoms. If blistered skin becomes infected, an antibiotic medication may also be needed.

What can I do to prevent cosmetic reactions?

There are several steps you can take to try and avoid cosmetic allergy reactions, including:

  • Read the list of ingredients on all cosmetic products. If you find an ingredient that has caused a reaction in the past, don't use that product. Keep track of ingredients that have caused reactions, and look for products that do not contain those ingredients.

  • When considering a new product, do a "mini-patch test" first to see if it causes a reaction. Put a sample of the product on your inner wrist or elbow and wait 24 hours to see if a reaction occurs.

  • Keep it simple. Choose products with simple formulas. More ingredients mean more potential allergens. With fewer ingredients, it's also easier to pinpoint the source if you do have a reaction.

  • Apply perfume to your clothes rather than your skin, and allow the perfume to dry before putting on the clothes.

  • Be especially careful with makeup because it stays in contact with the skin for a long time. Look for products that are hypoallergenic, fragrance free, and non-comedogenic, although products with these labels may still cause reactions.

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