The skin test: chemical allergies

I have the worst, itchiest skin of all time.  I have eczema, dry skin, and an itchy, flaky scalp and am pretty much miserable skin-wise.  I have tried a LOT of products that claim to combat these symptoms and nothing has ever worked.

A couple of months ago, my scalp got unbearably itchy, so I finally decided to do something official about it.  I went to my dermatologist who first gave me a slew of different shampoos and lotions that didn’t work.  Next, he did a blood test to make sure I didn’t have any thyroid issues – thankfully, results came back negative.

The next step was an allergy test.  I’ve had the kind of allergy test before where my doctor pricked my arm to see what types of food/trees/etc I have allergies to.  This one was different though, because he tested for chemical allergies.  I had to go into the office 3 times that week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

On Monday, they put on the test.  It consisted of 3 different patches with small dime size blocks of the chemicals they are testing (I believe 6 chemicals per patch).  The patches covered my entire upper back and were reinforced with tape.  They didn’t show under my clothes, but they were pretty uncomfortable to sleep in.  I couldn’t shower for three days (definitely wore my hair up), and I had to keep them on until my next appointment.  The next appointment was on Wednesday, and I could not WAIT to get the patches taken off as they were getting really itchy.  After my doctor removed the patch test, he said I was definitely allergic to a few chemicals but he wanted to wait to see how things looked on Friday before confirming.

On Friday I went back and got my full list of allergies:

  • Iodopropynyl Butylcarbonate
  • Carbanic Acid
  • Lanolin Alcohol
  • Aquaphor
  • Formaldehyde
  • Methaldehyde
  • Fragrance I
  • Fragrance II

My first reaction was WOW that seems like a lot of chemicals!  I went home and found that these ingredients are EXTREMELY common in skincare and hair products (fragrance was in basically everything) and immediately got rid of almost all of my products.  A lot of my creams had the first chemical as well.  I had no idea that the skin, body, and hair products that I was buying to address my skin issues were the actual culprits behind the symptoms.

Now I use all fragrance-free products and try to use all natural, as advised by my dermatologist.  I buy the vast majority of my products from Whole Foods and Clinique and found a skincare routine that works for my skin.  We also have a blogpost that talks about a great book to read to get educated on how toxic some chemicals can be to our health.  Another great online resource is the Environmental Working Group.

This was my personal experience with the skin allergy test, and I’m SO glad I had it done!  I’m not clear if this is covered by health insurance, so I recommend consulting with your dermatologist and your insurance company if you are interested.

Are there chemicals in products you avoid?  If so, which ones?

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