How can I find out if I have a skin allergy to topical products?
I am a 28 year old female. I have been using a honey and cinnamon face pack for years now. Never had any issues with it. About 6 months ago, after applying the face pack again, my face turned red, swollen and itchy. It looked like I got an allergic reaction. I was wondering if I was really allergic to cinnamon or honey all this while, and if so, why I never get an allergic response whenever I eat cinnamon or honey?
It is certainly possible for you to have developed an allergic reaction to the mask. This is termed allergic contact dermatitis. For an allergic contact dermatitis to take place, it usually takes weeks or longer for the body to develop the allergic reaction to the product.
It is difficult to know what ingredient it is that is causing the reaction. Often, it is the other ingredients eg. preservatives or fragrances that are added to the product that causes the reaction, rather than the honey or cinnamon itself.
The test that is used to determine contact allergies is a patch test. Usually, a set of common allergens (chemicals that can induce an allergic reaction), are applied to back and left on for about 48 hours. The patch is then removed and the skin examined the next day to see if there is any reaction to the allergens. A positive reaction would indicate your contact sensitivity to the allergen.
You can consult your dermatologist for patch testing and further advice.
Doctors regularly do a skin prick test to test for allergy to product or food ingredients. During the patch test, the doctor pricks the skin with the product to look for a reaction. A blood test can also be done to look for specific antibodies against certain products, suggestive of an allergy.
Allergies can occur after repeated use of a product as it may take time for antibodies, which causes the allergic reactions, to develop. As the face pack you used contains other materials, it may not be the cinnamon or honey that you are allergic to. Common allergens include plastics, additives, and rubber/latex.
Not all reactions are due to allergies. From your history, it may be due to irritation from skin contact with certain substances.
It's best to stop using the face pack and consult a doctor for treatment. Cheers!
Dr. Terence Tan