Googled a bit, and it’s hard to find articles that deal with propylene glycol outside of e-cig articles.
Is propylene glycol sensitivity/allergy a real thing? It’s noted in several places that the sensitivity is actually probably to another ingredient, the presence of p.g. being incidental.
I ask, because I believe that I sensitive to topicaly applied p.g. I set up very a very controlled laboratory environment and following very strict scentified method, came to this conclusion.
Ok, I didn’t…but I have pretty good reason to believe that p.g. caused me pretty severe contact dermatitis. Here’s why:
Last spring, when the world started to green up I got what I thought was poison ivy for the first time in my life. I assumed that I was just unfortunate enough to become sensitive to it. I developed typical rash w/ blisters on my knees, ankles, fingers and wrists. It happened after a long trail run, where I brushed up against a lot of vegetation. Recurred again after a hike where I stepped off the trail to pick blackberries. Then again after working in the yard. And again after another run.
Then something occurred to me: I was only breaking out in the areas that I was applying a topical medication prescribed for inflammation and pain. So, after making sure that I had no opportunity for poison ivy exposure, I applied some of the cream to my knee, where I was prone to what I thought were poison ivy rashes. Sure enough, within a day I had itchy rash and watery blisters appear.
I called my pharmacist to ask what I might be allergic to. She averred that the only ingredients were the medication itself, which is not known to cause allergic reactions, and propylege glycol gel, in to which the medication is mixed. She wasn’t aware, however, of propylene glycol causing any allergic reactions.
Well, by that time my pain and inflammation had resided, so I pitched the remaining medication in to the trash bin with extreme prejudice. Didn’t get another outbreak of ‘poison ivy’ for the rest of the summer.
Fast foward to last week. Went for a (beautiful) trail run, came home. Was a bit sunburned and sore from the day before, so after I got out of the shower I applied a very generous dose of after-sun gel made by Avon.
Shortly afterward, I got very itchy, especially insides of my elbows underarms, kness, and ankles. Everywhere that itched had a red bumpy rash; not blisters, but definite swelling and bumps. Then, to top that off, I was hit with what I though was a very bad case of allergies or hay fever. Super watery eyes, runny nose, sneeze after sneeze etc. My initial self-diagnosis was that I found some kind of exotic irritant plant or plants on my run (I was in Florida, and no familiar with the flora) that gave me the rash and the hay fever reaction. I took some cetirizine and that killed the symptoms in an hour or so.
The next day, applied the gel again. Same symptoms, though the hay fever reaction wasn’t nearly as severe. Following day, another run through the same type of terrain…I didn’t apply the after-sun gel, and got neither the rash nor the hay fever reaction. So that got me thinking; I grabbed the gel, and damned if propyle glycol wasn’t the second ingredient, after water.
So, as you can see from my highly controlled test, my conclusion is that I’m allergic to propylene glycol. Any other likely explanation?
Edit - Mods: This started as a factual question about an allergy, but I guess it could be construed as soliciting medical advice? Move if necessary.