Thursday, January 30, 2014

What is Shellac Allergy?

Cosmetic allergy is a common complaint I hear in my practice.  Symptoms include swollen red eyes, irritated eyes, flaking of the eyelids, or redness/rash around the mouth.  Sometimes, individuals will be treated for eczema, when in fact they are allergic to their cosmetic. Once you identify what the chemical is that's causing the irritation, avoiding it leads to a cure.

A common cause of cosmetic allergy is shellac.  Shellac is a natural plastic resin secreted by a lac bug ( Laccifer lacca) onto the bark of trees that's been in common use for over 3000 years.  Shellac is FDA approved to be used in cosmetics, foods, and medications.

Where is shellac found?
  • In cosmetics like lip gloss, mascara, hair spray, eye liner and finger nail polish
  • Dentures
  • Furniture and painting glazes
  •  Shellac is found on the outside of fruits and vegetables to make them shiny (think apples, and peppers)
  • On the inside of ice cream cones where it acts as a moisture barrier.
  • Pharmaceutical companies use it to prevent breakdown in the stomach or in time released medications.
Can you be allergic to shellac?
  • Yes...
  • While shellac allergy is not common, it is a common cause of eye lid dermatitis because of it's presence in cosmetics.
  • If you ingest it in food and are allergic, it can cause abdominal pain, bloating, and irritation.
  • We don't know the incidence of shellac allergy. 
How can you be tested for shellac allergy?
  • Your doctor if they suspect shellac allergy will "patch test" you for common chemicals present in cosmetics and look to see which one causes a rash.
Want to read more about cosmetic allergy?

Need help with deciphering a cosmetic allergy?
Please call the office for an appointment and we'll be glad to help- 212-679-35754

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

What is Allergic Asthma?

What is Allergic Asthma?
  • Allergic asthma affects almost 60% of asthmatics
  • There is a history of cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or wheezing around an allergic trigger.
  • Allergic triggers can be pollens, cats/dogs, dust, or cockroaches, or molds.  This will present with asthma symptoms in season (spring, fall or summer) or with exposure to other triggers.
  • Often there is a family history of allergies
  • Often there is a personal history of an allergic nose, eczema or food allergies as a child.

What should you do if you suspect you have allergic asthma?
  • Get tested for allergies.  You doctor or allergist can do simple skin or blood testing to identify what your triggers are.
  • Ask your doctor to check a total immunoglobulin E.  This is an important marker of allergic asthma
Is there treatment for allergic asthma?
  • YES!  Your allergist will recommend avoidance measures, medications and based on your symptoms may recommend allergy treatment.

Want more information?  Please contact me at 212-679-3574 or www.gramercyallergy.com

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How to deal with asthma when it's bitter cold....

Burr, it's cold outside!  Asthma, chronic inflammation of the the airways and lungs, is commonly triggered by cold temperatures.  With over 1.1 million New Yorkers suffering from asthma, I thought it might be a good idea to give you some tips on preventing an asthma attack.  

Here are 5 tips for preventing an asthma attack when the temperature drops!
1) Use a scarf.

  • Warming air before it enters your lungs can help prevent an asthma attack.
2) Breath via your nose.

  •  Your nose is specially designed to air before it enters into your lungs.

3) Keep well hydrated.

  •  Drinking plenty of water will keep your lungs hydrated from the inside out.  When your lungs are dehydrated you're more likely to have an asthma attack.

4)  Use your inhaler.

  • Use your albuterol inhaler (rescue inhaler) 15-30 minutes before going outside if your asthma is commonly triggered by cold weather.

5) Keep your inhaler warm.

  • Keeping your inhaler in an inside pocket near your body will keep the medicine warm.  Warming the medicine will prevent for a cold spray of medicine into your lungs.
Symptoms of asthma are cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath and wheezing. If you experience any of these and can't get them under control, contact your doctor or the emergency room.  Need my help?  Contact me in the office at 212-679-3574.