Natural, Common & Chemical Allergens

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Hay Fever


Any substance or protein that can induce an allergy. Food allergens are on the increase, but this perhaps may be because more food is available and diagnosis is better. Other allergens can be natural, such as pollen and chemical such as nickel.


Allergens are substance that cause the immune system to trigger and fight against it. In normal cases, and in the majority this happens when foreign bodies such as bacteria, enter our body. However, innocent and harmless bodies (proteins) such as pollen, peanuts, milk, penicillin etc. may not be recognised by out immune system and keep thinking of them being a harmful foreign body. On the other hand, wasps and other insects produce allergens as a self defence for themselves.

Below are three lists consisting of:

Natural Common Allergens

The table below lists common allergens. Although they are innocent for most people, unfortunately they can cause uncomfortable symptoms to several others.

Airborne Foods
Grass Pollen
Tree Pollen
Mould Spores
Animal Dander
Dairy Products
Fish and Shellfish


The following table lists natural products derived from food, plants and fruit. Once again, in the majority of people they do not cause any harm, however some people are affected.


Other Allergens derived from food products
Mannitol and Sorbitol
Rice Maltodextrins
Artificial Preservatives
Artificial Colours
Citrus Pectin
Corn Flour
Soy Flour and Rice Flour
Potato Starch
Acacia Gum

Chemical Allergens and Others

1. Nickel sulphate

Nickel is one of the most common metals in our environment, and is the most common contact sensitises world-wide. About 10% of all women are sensitive to nickel sulphate and react to metal objects in direct contact with the skin.

2. Wool alcohols

Wool fat and wool alcohols are extensively used in cosmetic products and topical medicaments such as ointments, creams, lotions and soaps. Wool alcohol is the fraction of lanolin in which the allergen(s) are found. The structure of the allergen is unknown. Although lanolin is a weak sensitizer, allergy is not uncommon because of its frequent use on inflamed skin or as an emollient.

3. Neomycin sulphate

Neomycin sulphate is an antibiotic in the aminoglycoside group that is used topically in ointments, creams, ear drops and nose drops. Neomycin sulphate consists of three different chemical substances, all of which are sensitizers. The neomycin sulphate patch test reaction often develops slowly and should be evaluated 4-5 days after application if possible.

4. Potassium dichromate

Soluble chromium salts may cause contact dermatitis and are found in wet cement, chrome tanned leather, welding fumes, cutting oils and anti rust paints. Metallic chromium has an oxidized surface and no soluble chromium is released. The metal is thus non-allergenic.

5. Caine mix

Caine mix contains three anaesthetics for topical use - benzocaine, dibucaine hydrochloride and tetracaine hydrochloride. Caine mix anaesthetics are used in medicaments that reduce pain, itching and stinging. They are also found in haemorrhoidal preparations and cough syrups. Caines are moderate sensitizers, but are often used on inflamed skin, and therefore allergic sensitization is not uncommon.

6. Fragrance mix

Fragrance mix contains eight common fragrances, also known to be sensitizers - cinnamic alcohol, cinnamic aldehyde, eugenol, alpha-amylcinnamic aldehyde, isoeugenol, geraniol, hydroxycitronellal and oak moss. The perfumes of the fragrance mix occur in most toiletries, soaps, after shave lotions, shampoos, scented household products and in many industrial products such as cutting fluids.

7. Colophony

Colophony is a resin obtained from different conifer species. It is found in adhesive, tape, sticker sealant, lacquers, varnishes, cosmetics, soldering materials, and many industrial products. Paper contains small amounts of colophony. The allergens of colophony are not altogether known, but are assumed to be present among the resin acids, which are main ingredients of colophony or among their oxidation products. A mixture of colophonies of different origin is an excellent clinical indicator of colophony allergy.

8. Epoxy resin

Epoxy resin is the diglycidylether of bisphenol-A and is found in strong, two-part plastic adhesives. Only the resin - the uncured epoxy - is sensitizing, and the 340 monomer the essential sensitizer.

9. Quinoline mix

Quinoline mix contains clioquinol and chloroquinadol, two antimicrobials used in medicated creams and ointments for wound infections and infected eczemas. Quinolines are not uncommon sensitizers in countries where they are used.

10. Balsam of Pew

Balsam of Peru is a wood extract from the South American tree Myroxylon pedere. In the past, it was commonly incorporated as fragrance in cosmetics, medical creams and ointments and used as flavouring in teas, tobaccos, cough syrups, colas, ice creams, baked goods and many other foods. It is decreasingly used, but gives a good indication of fragrance sensitivity, as it includes several different fragrances that sensitize, such as benzyl cinnamate, benzylbenzoate, cinnamic aldehyde and isoeugenol.

11. Ethylenediamine dihydrochloride

Ethylenediarnine is an emulsifier and stabilizer found in both medicated and non-medicated topical preparations such as creams and nose drops. It is used industrially as a solvent, curing and anticorrosive agent.

12. Cobalt chloride

Metallic cobalt and cobalt salts are strong sensitizers, and are found in many metal plated objects including buckles, buttons and zips, but also in artists' paints, wet cement and hard metal. Cobalt is often found together with nickel, and allergy occurs to both these metals in 25% of nickel sensitivity. This is not regarded as true cross sensitivity.

13. p-tert-butylphenol formaldehyde resin

p-tert-butylphenol formaldehyde resin is a condensation product of formaldehyde and p-tert-butylphenol. It is a source material for many waterproof glues and finishes, and is frequently used in the construction and shoe industries. It is found in leather goods, furniture, rockwool, hard board, high quality paper and glossy fabrics. Phenolformaldehyde resins are a group of more or less condensed substances. Many of them sensitize. P-tert-butylphenol formaldehyde resin indicates most of this sensitivity.

14. Paraben mix

The mixture contains five different parabens; methyl-, ethyl-, propyl-, butyl- and benzyl-parahydroxybenzoate. Parabens are the most used topical preservatives worldwide. Parabens are found in several medical creams, lotions, pastes, and in several cosmetics and skin care products. Parabens are used as food preservatives and industrially in oils, fats and glues. Sensitivity to parabens is not uncommon although rare in relation to their widespread usage. Parabens are lipophilic and have low irritant and sensitizing potential.

15. Carba mix

Three rubber chemicals, 1 .3-diphenylguanidine, zinc diethyldithiocarbamate and zinc dibutyldithiocarbamate are contained in this mixture. These chemicals are strong antimicrobials and antioxidants, and are used to stabilize rubber. They are found in almost all rubber products including shoes, tool handles, electric cords, etc. They are also found in adhesives for leather, some vinyl products and are ingredients of pesticides. Dithiocarbamates transform to thiurams on exposure to oxygen. Therefore, carbamate and thiuram allergic reactions often occur in parallel.

16. Black rubber mix

N.isopropyl-N1-phenyl paraphenylenediamine9 Ncyclohexyl-N1-phenyl paraphenylenediamine and N,N1-diphenyl paraphenylene diamine are antioxidants and polymerization inhibitors found in almost all black rubber products including tyres, handles, rubber washers, hoses and gloves. Hair dye products are related and may occasionally cross react. The black rubber chemicals are strong sensitizers.

17. Isothiazolinones (Kathon CG)

A mixture of two allergens; Schloro-2-methylA-isothiazolin-3-one and 2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3~ne, the chloromethyl derivative being the more sensitizing. Kathon CG is a widespread preservative in cosmetics and commercial household products such as shampoos, creams, lotions, cleaners and washing materials. It is also a widely used industrial preservative for cutting fluids.

18. Quaternium-15

Quaternium-1 5, 1 (3~hloroallyl)-3,5,7.triaza-1 -azonium-adamantane chloride is a preservative found in cosmetics such as lotions, creams, shampoos and soaps. It is also found in commercial products such as polishes, cleaners, and in industrial products such as cutting fluids and paints. Quaternium-15 is a formaldehyde releaser. Individuals reacting to this compound may either be allergic to formaldehyde or have a specific sensitivity. Quaternium-15 has low potential to irritate and sensitizers.

19. Mercaptobenzothiazole (MBT)

Mercaplobenzothiazole is a vulcanization accelerator used in rubber products such as shoes, gloves, rubber bands, gaskets, electric cords. It is also found in adhesives and as a fungicide, bactericide and anticorrosive agent in cutting oils and greases. MBT is a moderately strong sensitizer and a moderately irritant chemical.

20. p-Phenylenediamine (PPD)

PPD is a blue-black aniline dye. Together with (elated compounds it is found in many dyed textiles, leather, and fur. Permanent and semi-permanent hair dyes may contain PPD or related chemicals, which to some extent cross react. It may also be found in dark cosmetics, black rubber, photographic developers and printing inks. PPD is readily oxidized in contact with atmospheric oxygen, but this reduces the allergenic potency only marginally. It is an open question whether the dye itself or an oxidation product is the essential allergen.

21. Formaldehyde (N-hydrnxymethyl succinimide)

Formaldehyde is the initial component in the manufacture of several plastics and synthetic resins. Residual amounts of formaldehyde are released from such products. Formaldehyde releasing disinfectants and preservatives are widely used in cosmetics, cleaning products and many industrial products. Formaldehyde is found in glues, textiles and some types of paper. There is a significant exposure to formaldehyde in the construction industry from paints, hardboard, rockwool, plastics and waterproof glues.

22. Mercapto mix

Morpholinyl mercaptobenzothiazol. N-Cyclohexyl benzothiazyl sulphonamide and dibenzothiazyl disulphide are the allergens included. Uke mercaptobenzothiazol these mercaptochemicals are vulcanisation accelerators used in rubber products.

23. Thiomersal (thimerosal, merthiolate)

Thiomersal is a preservative used in contact lens fluids and in particular cosmetics, such as eye shadows. It may also be used as a preservative for eye and nose drops, and for some injectable medicines, especially vaccines and gammaglobulin. Thiomersal contains mercury, but cross reacts only marginally with metallic mercury and the relevance of positive reactions is often hard to establish.

24. Thiuram mix

The thiuram mix includes three disulphides and one monosulphide. They are strong antimicrobials and antioxidants. They are found in almost all rubber products, including shoes, gloves, condoms, elastic bands, tool handles, gaskets and electric cables. They are also found in adhesives for leather and vinyl products and are ingredients of pesticides, insect repellents, antiscabies medication, fungicides, wood preservatives, paint additives, lubricating oils and the drug disulfiram (Antabuse). There is an interaction between the disulphides of the mix which form an equilibrium of six disulphides. The cross-reaction pattern of these disulphides has not yet been evaluated.

Food Additives

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