Cosmetics Are Too Spicy for Some

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Offering a wide array of beauty and health benefits, spices are one of the most commonly used products in foods, dental products and cosmetics. For most, spices make a great addition to these products but for the (estimated) three percent of people allergic to spices, it can be extremely problematic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not regulate spices, so avoiding them can be very difficult for those with the allergy. As a result, spices are not always listed on nutrition labels and can be difficult to identify and avoid.

Allergies to spices are under-diagnosed because there are no reliable skin and blood tests available. “While spice allergy seems to be rare, with the constantly increasing use of spices in the American diet and a variety of cosmetics, we anticipate more and more Americans will develop this allergy,” says allergist Sami Bahna, MD. “Patients with spice allergy often have to go through extreme measures to avoid the allergen. This can lead to strict dietary avoidance, low quality of life and sometimes malnutrition.”

According to Dr. Bahna, women are more likely to develop a spice allergy because of the wide use of spice in cosmetics. Makeup, body oils, toothpastes and fragrances can all include spices.

“Boiling, roasting, frying and other forms of applying heat to spices may reduce allergy causing agents, but can also enhance them depending on the spice,” said Dr. Bahna. “Because of this allergy’s complexity, allergists often recommend a treatment plan that includes strict avoidance which can be a major task.

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