Most of us try a new cosmetic or skincare product straight away without thinking of doing a patch test beforehand. After all, what are the chances of a cosmetic product causing a negative reaction? Unless you have very sensitive or allergy prone skin, you have more than likely used quite a lot of products without any side effects at all and think patch tests to be an unnecessary annoyance. Until you slather a new product on your face and your skin suddenly becomes all red, swollen and irritated! What can we do when that happens?
1. Figure out what products are causing the problem
Sometimes, it’s easy to find out what product is causing the irritation or allergy. If you have just applied a new product, such as foundation or moisturizer for example, on your skin for the first time and, after a few hours, your skin is red, itchy, swollen and irritated, then stop using it immediately as it is clear that it is causing problems for you. But unfortunately, allergies can develop at any time and, even products that you’ve been using for years can, all of a sudden, cause a negative reaction. In this case, try eliminating a product at a time from your beauty routine until you find the culprit.
2. Find out what ingredients are causing the allergy
Now you know what product you reacted badly to, have a look at the ingredient list. I know, all those long, scientific names can be quite daunting! Start by finding out if the product contains a fragrance as that is, very often, the main culprit. Next, look at the preservatives. Those that work by releasing formaldehyde (DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, and 2-bromo-2nitropropane-1, 3-diol) and methyl chloroisothiazolinone/ methyl isothiazolinone, and to a lesser extent parabens, can all cause allergies. Of course it may be that you are reacting to something else entirely so just compare the ingrdient list of the product that caused the allergy to the others in your stash until you notice one or two that are present only in the culprit one. That’s likely to have caused the problem. But of course the only way to be sure would be to consult a doctor and do some allergy tests.
3. Use a cortisone cream
Figuring out what caused the allergy is very important, but in the meantime, what can we do to treat our skin? Use an over the counter cortisone cream, such as Cortaid, which are easily available. This will relieve the itching and reduce inflammation caused by the allergy. Keep applying it for a few days until your skin has gone back to normal. You should also consult your doctor, who will be able to prescribe the best treatment and also identify what triggered the reaction.
4. Don’t irritate skin more
Until your skin is back to normal, it’s necessary to treat it very gently to avoid irritating it even more. If you’re using skincare products with active ingredients such as Retinoids, Benzoyl Peroxide or skin lighteners, discontinue their use until the allergic reaction has subsided as they may be too harsh for irritated skin and make things worse. In addition, don’t sweat, rub skin, exfoliate (not even with a washcloth) and don’t use products with fragrances on the irritated area.
5. Consult a doctor
Of course, when you get an allergic reaction or just an irritation, it is always best to consult a doctor for proper treatment. But let’s face it. Most of us, just apply a cortisone cream and wait for the negative reaction to subside. And very often, that works. However, sometimes that’s not enough. If you don’t see any improvements after about six weeks, then you could either have a very, very severe allergic reaction that may need oral antihistamine (which need to be prescribed by a doctor) to heal or you may not have an allergy at all but a skin condition like psoriasis, rosacea or eczema for instance. In that case, consult a physician for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
Have you ever had an allergic reaction to a cosmetic product? How did you treat it? Share your experience in the comments.