Monash medical researcher finds ‘Natural’ moisturisers can cause food allergies

21 July 2014

A woman has experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction after using a moisturiser with ‘natural’ ingredients.
The 55-year-old woman experienced the reaction after eating goat’s cheese, which researchers say was triggered by the repeated use several months earlier of a moisturiser that contained goat’s milk.

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Professor Robyn O’Hehir, Director of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine at Monash University, said many creams—even for the treatment of dry skin and eczema—are advertised as ‘natural’ products.
“Surprisingly, some of these products contain foods which are known to cause allergy,” Professor O’Hehir said. “Goat’s milk, cow’s milk, nut oils and oats are common ingredients in ‘natural’ cosmetics.”
Professor O’Hehir said the study, published recently in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, was the first to demonstrate in the laboratory evidence of a link between topical application of cosmetics and the subsequent development of food allergy.
“While unlikely to be a problem for most people, application of these to broken or eczematous skin may lead to a severe allergic reaction when the food is next eaten,” Professor O’Hehir said. “To ensure allergies don’t develop, if you have eczema, it’s important to use skin care that is bland and avoid agents capable of sensitization, especially food.”

Monash University Department of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine

The Central Clinical School’s Department of Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine (AIRMed) has a comprehensive spectrum of expertise in advanced lung diseases including asthma, lung transplantation, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary hypertension, COPD and sleep-disordered breathing, allergy and clinical immunology. The department integrates clinical services with extensive human and experimental research programs, linking senior clinician scientists, bench scientists, allied health professionals, primary care physicians and the community. The clinical and academic base of AIRMed is located at the Alfred Hospital, with experimental and clinical research laboratories located both within the hospital and in the laboratories of related departments within Central Clinical School.

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The Monash Medical School’s graduate-entry degree emphasizes clinical communication skills and early clinical contact visits to medical practices, community care facilities and hospitals. The Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) curriculum is designed as an integrated structure incorporating four themes, within which semester-long units are taught by staff from a range of departments across the faculty in an interdisciplinary fashion.
Program: Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS)
Location: Gippsland Campus, Churchill, Victoria (approx. 2 hours southeast of Melbourne)
Semester intake: February 2015
Duration: 4 years
Application deadline: September 26, 2014

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