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

1 comment:

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