Topical Food Allergies

*For my Writing for Interactive Media Class I picked Food Allergies as my topic. I’ll be re-posting my assignments here for your enjoyment. I’m not an expert, this is just me trying to learn more and share what I learn. Here’s a different way to experience food allergies*


It’s bad enough having food allergies and worrying about what you eat, but what do you do when those food allergies are a part of your beauty products too? A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about using a lotion on her hands, only to find out after allergy symptoms appeared that the lotion contains almond oil. It caused her hands to itch, her body to feel shaky, and made her have difficulty breathing. Luckily she didn’t go into anaphylactic shock, but it’s still an experience she tries to always avoid.

My mom almost caused a similar situation one year at Christmas. No one in my immediate family has a food allergy, so it’s something we tend to forget about. For a stocking stuffer she gave me and my sister-in-law chapstick (among other things). She neglected to check the ingredients, but my sister-in-law (let’s just call her Karen from now on) is ever vigilant and looked to find that the chapstick contained mango. She didn’t need to try it out and experience a sense of impending doom, she just gave the chapstick to me (bonus present!).

Where else can common food allergens be found?

Soaps and hand sanitizers frequently are made with soy, milk, and various nut oils. Shampoos are similarly suspect, being made with wheat, almond, soy, and nut oils. Also watch out for makeup (wheat and sesame oil), body lotions (as mentioned earlier), and even sunblock can contain trace amounts of peanut oil.

So is the world a giant conspiracy against people with food allergies? Of course not. Maybe. They just need to be like Karen and remain vigilant at all times. When Karen visits other countries, she is very careful about avoiding mango. By the end of her trip to Costa Rica, the waiter handed her a cup of coffee, looked her straight in the eyes and said, “Here’s your coffee. There is no mango in it.” That’s the way it should be for her, even if we all laugh at her about it sometimes.

Along with reading ingredients on everything, also try checking online for recent food allergy alerts on reputable sites like FARE. Many companies are switching their products to be be more allergy friendly, or offering separate lines of products that are food allergen free.  Do a little research and you should be able to find fantastic lotions, makeup, and shampoo without needing any almond oil.