Contact dermatitis from activities where painting is done is common due to the many contact allergens — and photo-allergens — that go into paint. These include acrylates, resins, preservatives, formaldehyde, isothiazolinones, benzophenone, glues (the colorants need them to adhere to the painted surface), inks, dyes, and certain plastics. Water-based and soy ink are better (the base is not an allergen) but if you’ve patch tested positive to glues, dyes, or inks, they would still be a problem.
Professional painters also risk exposure to strong solvents, corrosives and irritants. They need to use personal protective equipment and follow strict safety regulations. These include thick rubber gloves…but rubber (and latex and thiuram) is also a top contact allergen. If painting is your job, work closely with your dermatologist.
If you have sensitive skin or have patch tested positive to these allergens, try the following:
1) Spread Know-It-Oil pure organic virgin coconut oil on your hands and face to moisturize (exposure to these allergens tends to get skin very dry), help protect the skin’s barrier layer, and to provide skin with a protective film.
2) You might want to consider wearing white or uncolored (organic, even) pure cotton gloves that are not stretchy. Note that professional painters must use specific gloves that follow safety protocols.
3) Follow with a chemical-free (inorganic) mineral sunscreen like Armada Baby or Post-Procedure or other occlusive physical base. Apply it thickly on your face, hands, and other exposed areas to serve as an additional barrier block against exposure. In addition, the sunscreen helps prevent (photo) contact dermatitis reactions like discolorations (more prevalent in people with darker skin tones) and faster aging of the skin (more prevalent in lighter skin tones).
4) If painting is your job or you’re otherwise painting for long periods of time, wear a mask because several of the allergens mentioned above are airborne and can, over time, cause rhinitis and/or asthma-like symptoms. Wear protective glasses to avoid irritant and/or photo-allergic conjunctivitis.
If you have a history of sensitive skin, don’t guess: random trial and error can cause more damage. Ask your dermatologist about a patch test.
To shop our selection of hypoallergenic products, visit vmvhypoallergenics.com. Need help? Ask us in the comments section below, or for more privacy (such as when asking us to customize recommendations for you based on your patch test results) contact us by email, or drop us a private message on Facebook.
On the prevalence of skin allergies, see Skin Allergies Are More Common Than Ever and One In Four Is Allergic to Common Skin Care And Cosmetic Ingredients.
To learn more about the VH-Rating System and hypoallergenicity, click here.
Regularly published reports on the most common allergens by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group and European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (based on over 28,000 patch test results, combined), plus other studies. Remember, we are all individuals — just because an ingredient is not on the most common allergen lists does not mean you cannot be sensitive to it, or that it will not become an allergen. These references, being based on so many patch test results, are a good basis but it is always best to get a patch test yourself.
2. W Uter et al. The European Baseline Series in 10 European Countries, 2005/2006–Results of the European Surveillance System on Contact Allergies (ESSCA). Contact Dermatitis 61 (1), 31-38.7 2009.
3. Wetter, DA et al. Results of patch testing to personal care product allergens in a standard series and a supplemental cosmetic series: An analysis of 945 patients from the Mayo Clinic Contact Dermatitis Group, 2000-2007. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2010 Nov;63(5):789-98.
4. Verallo-Rowell VM. The validated hypoallergenic cosmetics rating system: its 30-year evolution and effect on the prevalence of cosmetic reactions. Dermatitis 2011 Apr; 22(2):80-97.
5. Ruby Pawankar et al. World Health Organization. White Book on Allergy 2011-2012 Executive Summary.
6. Misery L et al. Sensitive skin in the American population: prevalence, clinical data, and role of the dermatologist. Int J Dermatol. 2011 Aug;50(8):961-7.
7. Warshaw EM1, Maibach HI, Taylor JS, Sasseville D, DeKoven JG, Zirwas MJ, Fransway AF, Mathias CG, Zug KA, DeLeo VA, Fowler JF Jr, Marks JG, Pratt MD, Storrs FJ, Belsito DV. North American contact dermatitis group patch test results: 2011-2012.Dermatitis. 2015 Jan-Feb;26(1):49-59.
8. Warshaw, E et al. Allergic patch test reactions associated with cosmetics: Retrospective analysis of cross-sectional data from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 2001-2004. J AmAcadDermatol 2009;60:23-38.
9. Foliaki S et al. Antibiotic use in infancy and symptoms of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema in children 6 and 7 years old: International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood Phase III. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Nov;124(5):982-9.
10. Kei EF et al. Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health. Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Apr; 8(4): 435–454.
11. Thavagnanam S et al. A meta-analysis of the association between Caesarean section and childhood asthma. Clin Exp Allergy. 2008;38(4):629–633.
12. Marks JG, Belsito DV, DeLeo VA, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch-test results, 1998 to 2000. Am J Contact Dermat. 2003;14(2):59-62.
13. Warshaw EM, Belsito DV, Taylor JS, et al. North American Contact Dermatitis Group patch test results: 2009 to 2010. Dermatitis. 2013;24(2):50-99.
Want more great information on contact dermatitis? Check out the American Contact Dermatitis Society, Dermnet New Zealand, and your country’s contact dermatitis association.
Laura is our “dew”-good CEO at VMV Hypoallergenics and eldest daughter of VMV’s founding dermatologist-dermatopathologist. She has two children, Madison and Gavin, and works at VMV with her sister CC and husband Juan Pablo (Madison and Gavin frequently volunteer their “usage testing” services). In addition to saving the world’s skin, Laura is passionate about health, inclusion, cultural theory, human rights, happiness, and spreading goodness (like a great cream!)