Cosmetic Allergies - Symptoms

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What are the symptoms of a cosmetic reaction?

There are two reactions that might occur following exposure to cosmetics: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis is a condition marked by areas of inflammation (redness, itching and swelling) that form after a substance comes into contact with your skin.

Irritant contact dermatitis: This is more common than allergic contact dermatitis and can occur in anyone. It develops when an irritating or harsh substance actually damages the skin. Irritant contact dermatitis usually begins as patches of itchy, scaly skin or a red rash, but can develop into blisters that ooze, especially if the skin is further irritated from scratching. It generally occurs at the site of contact with the irritating substance. Areas where the outermost layer of skin is thin, such as the eyelids, or where the skin is dry and cracked are more susceptible to irritant contact dermatitis.

Allergic contact dermatitis: This occurs in people who are allergic to a specific ingredient or ingredients in a product. Symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, and hive-like breakouts. In some cases, the skin becomes red and raw. The face, lips, eyes, ears, and neck are the most common sites for cosmetic allergies, although reactions may appear anywhere on the body.

The time it takes for symptoms of irritant contact dermatitis to appear varies. For stronger irritants, such as perfumes, a reaction may occur within minutes or hours of exposure. However, it may take days or weeks of continued exposure to a weaker irritant, such as soap, before symptoms appear. In some cases, a person can develop an allergic sensitivity to a product after years of use.

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Comment from: Cantuseanything, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: May 02

I seem to have a reaction to everything. I get breakout-like bumps that take forever to go away. I am allergic to nickel and laundry detergents. I am using chemical-free makeup and that seems to be helping. But I still have a reaction around my hairline and scalp. I have a hard time finding hair products. I think glycols could be my problem, but I would really like to have the blood test to verify if it is in fact an allergy.

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