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Allergic Contact Dermatitis: A Concern for Spa and Esthetics professionals

What is it?

Dermatitis is an itchy skin condition that can result from exposure to irritants. An irritant can be anything from water, soaps, detergents, or even friction. Irritant contact dermatitis can occur in anyone. Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD), on the other hand, is a condition that occurs in a percentage of the population who has a reaction to a substance (an allergen) that would be harmless to a person who is not allergic to that substance.

What does it look like?

Itching, redness, swelling and blisters can be local, as in someone who has a reaction on their wrist from the nickel in their watch, or it may be generalized, such as from the use of cosmetic skin preparations or topical medications.

Who gets it?

As with most allergies, the first contact with an allergen doesn’t usually provoke a reaction. An allergic response can often come as a complete surprise to someone who has not been prone to sensitivities. Among health care workers, an issue of increasing relevance is latex allergy, and for hairstylists, estheticians and spa professionals, ACD is becoming an important concern, most likely as a result of exposure to products used in their trade. Allergic contact dermatitis is a major occupational disease, and in serious cases, may result in an inability to work.

What causes it?

As with health care workers, and the cumulative exposure to latex gloves causing ACD, those who work in the health and beauty industry have cumulative exposure to products they use in treatments on their clients. Research points to chemical fragrances, colours and preservatives as potentially causing numerous skin irritations.

How is it treated?

While treatment with topical corticosteroids and in some instances systemic corticosteroids can reduce symptoms and prevent complications, the only real solution is avoidance of the allergen. In the case of those allergic to chemical fragrances and preservatives in cosmetics, education on ingredients and compounds is essential to avoiding flare-ups. Frustratingly, since a fragrance may contain thousands of individual chemicals, and manufacturers are not required to list each one, avoidance can be challenging. The list of chemical preservatives used is long, and may include: Formaldehyde, and compounds releasing formaldehyde (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol, diazolidinyl urea, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, quaternium 15) and Parabens (methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- and butylparaben).

While consumers facing allergic reactions are encouraged to read product labels and avoid products that contain the allergens they are sensitive to, it is even more crucial for professionals in the industry. Not only are they protecting their clients, but they are protecting their own skin, not to mention their careers.

About Moor Spa

Moor Spa skin, body and wellness products contain no synthetic preservatives, no artificial fragrances, no artificial colours, no petroleum derivatives, are not tested on animals, and are made in Canada. Distributed by L'Moor.