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Food Allergy

8 Surprising Allergy Facts for the Holidays

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4. Knit Softly
A sweater is a classic seasonal present. But watch which knit you pick. For instance, put one of those great “to look at” rough knits against sensitive skin and your gift recipient will be itching to get it off – now! And it’s not just the person with an allergy-prone hide: “Wool is the prickliest natural fiber known, as sheep hair has barbs,” says Dr. Ham Pong.

Many people get itching and redness when their skin is directly exposed to the fabric. For those with eczema, the effects are magnified. Related to wool is lanolin, which is made from sheep fat. The emollient can cause allergic contact dermatitis and eczema flare-ups.

Advice: Check labels carefully to avoid wools that bother your gift-getter. Or go upscale and purchase alpaca, which is highly allergy-friendly and gorgeous.

5. Bathing in Itch
There’s a woman on your gift list who you don’t know to well. Natch, you head to the bath products because, what woman doesn’t love those? Well, that depends. If she has nut allergy, she won’t love you for the macadamia-based skincare product.

If she has contact dermatitis or other skin sensitivity, AL columnist Dr. Sandra Skotnicki, a dermatologist, says to avoid fragranced products. She also counsels opting for facial and body soaps that are mild and unscented.

Dr. Skotnicki says: “Fragrance is still the number one cause of allergic contact dermatitis to toiletry products, with an incidence of about 4 per cent within the North American population.”

Advice: What smells great in the store can be highly irritating to the skin, and the airways for those with asthma. Look for unscented products rather than “hypoallergenic”. The latter is widely used, but many so-called “hypoallergenic” products contain fragrance.

Next: Food and Drink Tips