Spread love, not allergies, this Valentine’s Day
As your search begins for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift, remember that some of the most popular gifts can cause allergic reactions. If your valentine is prone to allergies, follow these tips from experts at Baylor College of Medicine to have an allergy-free Valentine’s Day:
Dr. Rajani Katta, dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at Baylor, said nickel is the number one metal used in jewelry that can cause contact dermatitis; a red, itchy rash that can occur when the skin comes in contact with an allergen. Katta said that in those who are allergic to nickel, the reaction typically doesn’t show up until a few days later.
“Nickel is a strong and inexpensive metal,” Katta said. “That means it may be used in all types of jewelry, and because it is so strong it is often mixed in with other metals.”
Since it is difficult to determine if a piece of jewelry contains nickel just by looking at it, Katta offers a few recommendations on how to identify a piece of jewelry created with nickel:
- Purchase a nickel test kit. If the solution from the kit turns pink when it touches the jewelry, then the piece contains nickel.
- Be careful with metals like white gold since nickel is sometimes used to make the gold a lighter color. If the jewelry is 14K gold and above, Katta said it is less likely to contain nickel.
- Shop for jewelry at stores that say their products are certified “nickel free.”
- Do not count on price – Katta explains that even expensive pieces of jewelry may make use of nickel.
Perfume may smell nice, but it also can cause symptoms like sneezing, headaches, itchy eyes and rashes.
Katta explains that it can be difficult to determine what perfumes are made with because they do not list all of the individual fragrance ingredients on their labels.
“With perfume it’s really tricky since there is nothing on the label that can help you,” Katta said. “All that is required on the label is the one word ‘fragrance,’ which may mean a mixture of dozens of different fragrance additives.”
For those with sensitive skin, Katta recommends putting a small amount of fragrance on the outside of your clothes instead of directly on your skin. If you begin having a reaction, immediately wash all fragrance off your body.
“Everyone’s skin is so different, so someone may react to a particular fragrance and somebody else may not,” Katta said. “It’s really about paying attention to your skin and your own sensitivities.”
Flowers might be one of the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day, but they can be the reason behind you or your valentine’s allergic reaction.
Dr. Sanjiv Sur, an allergist at Baylor College of Medicine, said the most common flowers that cause nasal allergies or rashes are from the asteracea family, like chrysanthemums, daisies and sunflowers.
When it comes to purchasing allergy-friendly flowers, Sur recommends looking for flowers from the lily family such as tulips or hyacinths. Roses also have a reputation for not causing allergies, he said.
“What researchers have found is that people who have allergies to general environmental pollens like oak or ragweed are much more likely to develop allergies to ornamental flowers,” Sur said.
Sur adds that it can be difficult to test for flower allergies. He recommends avoiding the flower if allergy symptoms have occurred in the past after purchase of or exposure to a certain type of flower.