Allergen Free Skin Care
Irritating ingredients are found in many skin care products including soap, skin cleanser, deodorant, shaving cream and sunscreen, and often cause allergic reactions in certain individuals. This can result in red, itchy, irritated skin. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, there are more than 3,700 substances identified as contact allergens. Fortunately, there are many products available today formulated specifically for people with skin allergies.
Fragrances are the most common cause of allergic skin reactions, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. The second most common cause is preservatives, which prevent spoilage as well growth of bacteria and fungus. Some preservatives include imidazolidinyl urea, parabens, Quaternium-15, phenoxyethanol, methylchloroisothiazolinone, formaldehyde and DMDM hydantoin. The Environmental Working Group's Cosmetic Safety Database provides an extensive database for viewing potential allergens and harmful chemicals in skin care products.
Labels are an important source of information about skin care products. Look for the words hypoallergenic, natural, fragrance free and dye free. These products will be less likely to cause an allergic reaction. According to the Food and Drug Administration's Fair Packaging and Labeling Act, the name of each ingredient must be listed in descending order of predominance on labels, with the exception of fragrances or flavors. This means that the first ingredient on the list constitutes the greatest percentage of the product.
Many companies use the terms "hypoallergenic," "natural" or "organic" when describing products. "Hypoallergenic" means the product is less likely to cause an allergic reaction than other cosmetic products. "Natural" products are derived from natural substances such as plants or animals and do not contain synthetically made chemicals. "Organic" products are made without pesticides, synthetic chemicals or artificial fertilizers.
No product is truly "allergen free." There are no current Federal standards or regulations on products labeled "hypoallergenic" or "natural," therefore the product still has the potential to cause an allergic reaction. Products labeled "certified organic" are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture, so the consumer can be guaranteed that the product is authentic. However many organic products contain fragrances and essential oils that can cause skin irritation, so it is important to still exercise caution when using these products. In addition, products labeled "unscented" or "fragrance free" may still contain a small amount of fragrance to cover up the odor of chemical ingredients.
Avoid the use of products that have resulted in adverse skin reactions in the past. Always read the label before you buy skincare products to avoid subsequent reactions. Look for products with the least number of ingredients, as there will be fewer potential allergens than those with many. This also allows you to pinpoint the source of a reaction easier. Lastly, make a list of all ingredients and skin care products that have caused a reaction in the past so you can remember what products to avoid.
If you experience a serious life threatening event after use of a product, report your reaction to the FDA's 24-hour emergency line at 301-443-1240. Report all other side effects, product quality problems and cosmetic problems to Medwatch or call 1-800-332-1088.
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