Formaldehyde Allergy-Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Formaldehyde is a chemical which is used widely in cosmetics, fabrics, paints and disinfectants. However, most people have allergy to formaldehyde through cosmetics and clothing.  A person initially gets sensitized to formaldehyde due to excessive exposure. Gradually, he/she may develop formaldehyde allergy which shows up in the form of skin rashes, redness and blistering.

Nail polish, nail hardeners and nail polish removers are common formaldehyde-containing products we encounter every day. Formaldehyde causes allergic contact dermatitis – where the skin becomes red and itchy, and resolves afterwards.

How is Formaldehyde Allergy Caused?

Exposure to formaldehyde fumes  can cause skin rashes, headache, fatigue, burning sensation in the nose, eyes and throat.  If the person is exposed to formaldehyde frequently through fumes, fabrics or other sources – he/she develops formaldehyde allergy.

Symptoms of formalehyde allergy include:

  • Skin rash and redness
  • Itchy skin
  • Blistering
  • Dryness

The area of contact with formaldehyde shows the above symptoms. These symptoms resolve after sometime, when the skin loses contact with the allergen. In case of allergy through fabric– inner thighs, knees can show signs of dermatitis. (The fabric  containing formaldehyde  can release the chemical into the skin due to the action of sweat.)

To treat formaldehyde allergy, topical corticosteroids, emollient creams can be used.

Formaldehyde Allergy Testing:

An allergist can conduct a patch test to diagnose formaldehyde allergy. This test involves placing a small quantity of solution containing formaldehyde on the skin. If you have allergy, the skin will show signs of irritation.

How to Prevent Formaldehyde Allergy?

To avoid formaldehyde allergy, one should avoid contact with all forms of formaldehyde. Wearing clothing free of formaldehyde, identifying and avoiding formaldehyde sources are some of the steps you can take to prevent allergies.

If you suspect that a product has formaldehyde, before using it, apply a little bit of it on your hand or neck. If the area show signs of irritation, do not use this product.

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