Skin allergies are on the rise: French estimates by the Permanent Observatory of Allergies estimate the number of new cases each year at 17,500. Skin allergy often degenerates into dermatitis, characterized by reddened skin, irritation, itching and swelling. However, this inflammation of the skin can have several triggering causes, even if the most common causes have an irritative or allergic origin and often correspond to a reaction to external factors. In the most serious cases, the skin even reaches desquamation, forming blisters and scabs. We talked about it with Professor Antonio Costanzo, head of the Dermatology Unit of Humanitas.
Do you know what risks you face every day?
“The potential allergenic substances are endless – explained the specialist, pointing out that every day, in everyday life, we come into contact with thousands of potential allergens -. Moreover, it is not only the individual substance “allergen” that causes the reaction, but also depends on the predisposition of the immune system of those who come into contact. Consequently, even a substance that is not theoretically “allergenic” becomes so if the host is predisposed to develop an allergy towards it”.
From soap for washing to the fabrics of the clothes we wear, up to the various objects we handle: “Both cosmetics and detergents that some fabrics may contain allergenic or irritating substances – continued Costanzo -. The detergents used to make laundry, for example, can induce awareness because they remain in the fabric and are released on the skin when you wear the garment,” explained the professor. “In particular, it is mainly synthetic garments that need most attention, but also dyes used to colour natural fibres can release allergenic substances. In cosmetics, however, attention to parabens, preservatives, dyes and synthetic surfactants, as well as of course nickel”
Allergen free: Is there something to be trusted?
In many products, companies indicate on labels and packaging the words “Dermatologically Tested” or “Allergen Free”. But are they really reliable? According to Costanzo the definition ‘free of allergens’ is not very correct: “It would be better to say “free of the main allergens”, because as mentioned before, many reactions also depend on individual sensitivities”. This is also true for the ‘dermatologically tested’: it is not certain that a person is not allergic to a substance contained in that product.