Researchers find link between natural lotions, new food allergies
Lotion containing goat’s milk leads to goat cheese allergy
MILWAUKEE, WI – A new case study highlights one woman who experienced severe, first-time anaphylaxis from eating goat cheese – after several weeks of applying a moisturizer containing goat’s milk to eczematous skin. The article was published June 13 by The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.
“Many creams are currently advertised as ‘natural’ products for the treatment of dry skin or eczema, but they contain a variety of ingredients that may include foodstuffs,” the authors, Astrid Voskamp, MSc, and Robyn E. O’Hehir, FRACP, PhD, explained.
Goat’s milk, cow’s milk, coconut milk or oil, nut oils and oats are common ingredients in natural cosmetic products, but application of these moisturizers to damaged skin could cause food allergen sensitization, leading to severe reactions when the food is subsequently eaten.
“While others have speculated on the association between cutaneous sensitization and development of clinical allergy… our report is the first to demonstrate both clinical and immunological evidence for sensitization to a foodstuff in a patient, through cutaneous use of a moisturizer for the treatment of eczema,” Voskamp said.
They confirmed the presence of the allergy by specific in vitro basophil activation and inhibition serum IgE immunoblotting. Moreover, the 55-year-old patient had absolutely no history of any adverse effects to goat products prior to the use of the moisturizer.
This raises the stakes for allergenic food labels. While the United States and many other countries require major food allergens to be listed (milk, egg, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans), that requirement only applies to packaged foods.
Flavors, fragrances and trade secret ingredients in cosmetic products do not need to be named. Advisory labeling like "may contain" or created "in a facility with" is voluntary and not mandated by law. In fact, there are no federal standards or definitions that govern the use of the term "hypoallergenic."
The researchers who piloted the case study remind clinicians and patients that skin care ought to be bland, advocating avoidance of agents capable of sensitization – especially foods.
More information on food allergies, anaphylaxis, and eczema is available at the AAAAI website.
The AAAAI represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 6,800 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. The AAAAI’s Find an Allergist / Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.