A woman who had been applying a moisturizer containing goat’s milk experienced severe anaphylaxis a few weeks later when she ate goat cheese — and she had no prior indications of ever having an allergy to goat products.
In an article published by The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, they described how the woman had been applying the moisturizer to ease her eczema.
Many “natural” creams contain goat’s milk, cow’s milk, coconut milk or oil, oats, or nut oils. Researchers are cautioning people about the risk of “cutaneous sensitization” — meaning that what comes in contact with your skin could potentially trigger a food allergy down the road.
One of the first rules of allergies is that sometimes a reaction can get worse each time the person with the allergy is exposed. That first taste of peanut butter may give your child hives, but they might have an anaphylactic reaction during the second or third time. In this case, it was the act of the woman applying the goat’s milk cream repeatedly that gave her such a severe reaction when she actually ingested goat’s milk.
Many countries, included the United States, require companies list major food allergens — such as milk, egg, fish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans — but the rule only applies to packaged foods. When it comes to cosmetic products — like moisturizers — companies do not have to disclose what they use to create a flavor or fragrance.
Use of the word “hypoallergenic” is also not governed, so companies could theoretically package a nut-scented shampoo — although who would want their hair smelling like peanut butter? — as “hypoallergenic,” when it could actually be deadly to many users.
Researchers on the project are reminding people to be cautious about reading labels on their skincare products, and recommend avoiding those with food ingredients capable of sensitization — like goat’s milk, cow’s milk, coconut milk or oil, oats, or nut oils.
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H/T to Digital Journal