Is It Possible to Have a Toothpaste Allergy?
Toothpaste is one of most commonly used products on our planet. Normally, people clean their teeth with a toothpaste at least once a day. However, certain types of toothpaste may cause allergy-like symptoms. In general, toothpaste allergy is a rare disorder. This can be explained by the fact that we rinse the toothpaste out of the mouth after brushing our teeth, which means our exposure to the allergen doesn’t last long.
In most cases, the reaction to a toothpaste happens in the mouth and leads to the development of contact dermatitis. The signs usually include itching and peeling of the lips and skin around them, sores in the mouth, irritation of the tongue, and swollen gums. Your mouth and skin can be affected by two types of contact dermatitis, such as irritant and allergic. While it may sometimes be difficult to distinguish between the two, reactions caused by toothpaste are mostly associated with allergic contact dermatitis.
There are various allergens hidden in a toothpaste tube. For example, cinnamic aldehyde is one of the most common toothpaste allergy triggers. Some people may also react to added flavorings, such as Balsam of Peru.
Other potential causes of contact dermatitis in the mouth include oral and dental products, such as mouthwashes, lipsticks or lip balms, chewing gums, or foods related to the Toxicodendron family (e.g. cashews, pistachios and mangoes). In addition, the symptoms can also be triggered by a number of metals used during dental work, including chromium, nickel, mercury, cobalt, beryllium, palladium, and gold.
How Is the Diagnosis of Toothpaste Allergy Made?
In order to diagnose an allergy, a doctor specializing in allergic disorders (i.e. allergist-immunologist) has to perform special examination known as patch testing, which is different from allergy testing. In a patch test, various chemicals are placed on the patient’s back for about two days. First, the doctor checks the results at 48 hours after placement of the chemicals, and then at 72 to 96 hours after placement.
If you are allergic to a particular chemical, you will develop redness, itchiness, mild swelling and blisters at the site of contact. Since the symptoms are limited to the site of this chemical, the size of the reaction is normally smaller than a ten-cent coin.
The only patch test panel for contact dermatitis approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is the TRUE test. However, there are also allergists and dermatologists that order chemicals from Europe or Canada to create more extensive patch test panels.
How Can You Treat an Allergy to Toothpaste?
To start with, there is no treatment for allergic disorders. Sometimes, you can reduce your symptoms using over-the-counter or prescription medications (topical or oral), but you cannot actually prevent an allergic reaction. The only way to do that is to stay away from potential allergy triggers.
When it comes to toothpaste allergy, doctors recommend that you avoid the chemical that is causing your symptoms. In case you do have a reaction, your doctor may prescribe you some allergy treatment medications. For instance, you can reduce the rash on your face using a low-potency topical steroid, such as a hydrocortisone 1% cream available over the counter. You should apply it to the affected skin for a short period of time. Remember that using topical steroids on the face for prolonged periods may lead to severe and permanent side effects.
Systemic (oral) corticosteroids in the form of pills or shots can help to ease the symptoms affecting your mouth, such as sore in the mouth, irritation of the tongue and swollen gums. Besides, you can try topical steroid mouth rinses available in various local compounding pharmacies.
If you have a toothpaste allergy, you may also want to look for a natural and hypoallergenic toothpaste.