Aloe, Shea and Latex Hypersensitivity ... When Does It All Start?

Aloe, Shea and Latex Hypersensitivity ... When Does It All Start?

So what is it about these wonderful products that is just causing inflammation on my skin? Could it be the latex connection? Both shea butter and cocoa butter contain a latex protein that people with  Latex hypersensitivities might react to. You may also react to avocado oil, mango butter and castor oil. When you have a latex hypersensitivity it can be as serious as a peanut allergy, although it isn't taken nearly as serious by others because they just can't seem to wrap their head around what you are going through. Aloe is a latex plant and the allergy is called an aloin allergy. Many aloe gels have not done enough to keep the latex portion of the plant out of their gels, and as such many people react to aloe vera in their skin care products.

Shea nuts are also related to Brazil nuts, which in some cases can be a cross reactive allergen with other common tree or plant nuts. The fact that it comes from a fruit makes people often feel good about it how it isn't a nut. Although a US research team found some protein content remained in shea nut butter, FARRP’s research indicates that refined shea nut butter does not contain any detectable protein residues and they are saying that the risk is zero. They say, however, that it is unknown if breastfeeding your child after using a nipple cream that contains shea butter could predispose to sensitization toward other tree nuts or peanuts. So even though the industry still says that they haven't been able to find any proteins in shea butter, you can find post after post after post on the internet of personal experiences that would say otherwise.

When you have a topical reaction to anything, including an essential oil, it is important to note that there is a correlation between people with seasonal allergies and those prone to skin allergies that may be due to immune-reacting cells migrating from one part of the body to another. This is no different than someone that reacts to the nickel in their cell phone. There was a case where a child reacted to the nut-derived oil in her dad's shaving cream hours and hours later when he returned from work. We cannot say that there is no risk because the proteins have been removed in the oils, because experience tells us otherwise.

The first big topical reaction I had was when my daughter was about six years old. I had used a skin care product with macadamia nut oil in it, and ended up in the ER. All of this has to do with our mast cells and they way they are reacting, which seems to go against what we would believe would happen. This mast cell dysfunction can even cause exercise-induced anaphylaxis, and they really don't know why. However what we do know is that viral, fungal and bacterial infections can all cause mast cell activation. Perhaps it starts with the bacteria influence as infants.

Most infants and young children infected with EBV have absolutely no symptoms or only very mild ones. If your child had EBV, you probably didn't even know. Almost everyone you meet has Epstein-Barr virus in their system, and it has recently been connected to several autoimmune disorders. Mast cells can detect those viruses, but also fungus and mold. Mold-related chronic inflammatory response syndrome (CIRS) is a mast cell disorder. Mast cells have a leading role in so many diseases including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Mast cells are coated with IgE, which is produced by plasma cells and the half-life of IgE may be weeks to months, where the plasma is usually just days unless it is bound to the mast cell receptor. Ig3 is the antibodies produced by the immune system, like when your system overreacts to an allergen.

In Japan in the 2011 - 2012 influenza season there was a high rate of influenza vaccine-associated anaphylaxis in people with no egg allergy. They determined that it wasn't the mercury that was causing this issue, as you may have thought. It was related to the way the body was reacting to the 2-phenoxyethanol (2-PE). This substance is one of the ingredients that has been replacing parabens and formaldehyde-releasing ingredients in skin care products now for years, although Korean companies have been selling 2-PE-free products for some time. This replacement preservative is used in the inactivated polio vaccine. The conclusion of the Japanese study was that "The 2011-2012 IVA spike in Japan was caused by specific IgE antibodies to influenza vaccine components. Excipients could not be implicated, except for a modest effect of 2-PE."

In fact, 2-PE can cause contact dermatitis in some individuals with allergic susceptibility. Your allergist may be able to patch test you for this chemical, and I may have myself and my daughter tested this fall, even though our allergist uses preservative-free flu vaccines. The reason I wanted to discuss this is that if contact dermatitis is a chronic T cell–driven inflammatory skin disease, and that there are increased mast cells in a majority of these dermatitis patients, could so much of this be started as early as those first months of life? Some skin care product producers think so. If the FDA treats cosmetics and foods differently when it comes to allergen labeling requirements, the best thing you can do is to start to educate yourself about what is actually in your products, and what they may do as far as your immune system is considered.

If you put "Phenoxyethanol-free" into your Amazon search, almost all of the products that come up are shea, avocado, aloe and sunflower based products. I found one wash that was coconut based, I also found one newborn Soothing Gel because the CeraVe that my allergist recommended has gum in the ingredients. I have also found an organic, coral reef safe sunscreen butter to try. I may see if I can use that and some minerals and make my own BB cream out of it. I'll keep you updated.

Researchers are finally uncovering more of what mast cells have to do with asthma. Maybe now it is time for us to dig even deeper into this connection.



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