You purchased a silicone ring and started to wear it, only to find that your skin broke out in a sensitive rash after a few days.
It’s itchy, irritated, and makes you wonder if you could have an allergy to silicone.
Is an allergy to silicone possible?
While silicone allergies are very rare, they can happen. This is especially the case if the silicone in the ring or product isn’t medical grade and lacks quality.
Often, allergies to silicone are actually allergic reactions to other materials or contaminants that have been used in the production of the silicone.
That’s why purer silicone is usually considered to be hypoallergenic. There’s a lot to know about silicone allergies, so let’s start by looking at how silicone is defined.
What, Exactly, Is Silicone?
Silicone is a man-made substance that contains various chemicals: hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and silicon, which is a natural element.
Silicone can be produced in various forms. It can be a flexible plastic or a liquid, and it’s popular in the medical field, although it has many other uses, such as cooking and electrical uses.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Silicone Allergy?
If you suspect that you have a silicone allergy, you’ll probably experience symptoms such as the following after coming into contact with silicone:
- Itchy and swollen bumps on the skin
- Swelling of hands, legs, or other body parts
- Eye infections. This can take the form of watery, red, or itchy eyes, and it occurs when the allergens enter the bloodstream
- Swelling of the airways and throat
- Severe asthma
Repeated exposure to silicone can lead to anaphylactic shock, a life-threatening emergency!
The above list is scary, but it’s worth bearing in mind that most people who have a silicone allergy will experience mild symptoms, usually what is known as contact-based allergic reactions.
Contact-based allergies mean that the skin will experience a reaction after touching the product, in this case a product made of silicone.
So, what you might find is that some of the symptoms in the above list will occur: red skin or a raised rash in the area of your body that came into contact with the silicone. You might also experience itchiness and swelling, as these are both common reactions.
If you find out that you have a silicone allergy, it’s important to avoid contact with all silicone products.
The problem is that silicone is in our daily lives as it’s become a popular material used in the production of many useful products. Here’s a list of common silicone items that you might come into contact with on a regular basis.
- Rubber watch straps
- Silicone jewellery
- Silicone kitchen utensils
- Silicone baking ware
- Food moulds
- Makeup sponges
- Keyboard covers
- Electrical insulation
- Thermal insulation
- Contact lenses
These are just a few products that can contain silicone.
Can You Have An Allergy To All Types Of Silicone?
It’s important to realize that silicone doesn’t come standard. There are different types of silicone and they won’t all give people who are sensitive to silicone symptoms.
Types Of Silicone:
- Medical-Grade Silicone
This is often completely free of allergens, and you’ll find this type of silicone mainly used in the medical profession because it’s the safest type. Items like catheters, facial implants, and baby bottle nipples, are all examples of products that will be made out of medical-grade silicone.
- Industrial Silicone
This type of silicone is found in products such as accessories and household products. The problem with it is that it’s not as pure as medical-grade silicone and it doesn’t undergo as much testing, which means that it’s more likely to cause allergies due to contaminants that can be present in it.
How To Get Tested For A Silicone Allergy
If you think you might have a silicone allergy, your doctor will order tests to confirm the suspicion. A skin patch test is very common for testing for the presence of a silicone allergy.
How it’s done is by exposing a small area of skin to the allergen, which will take the form of diluted and pure silicon. During the test, you’ll be told to wait for observation so that doctors can see what symptoms, if any, arise.
What Happens If You Test Positive
If the patch test shows that you are allergic to silicone, then you’ll probably be told by your doctor to stay away from any silicone products.
You might also be given medication to help ease symptoms, such as hydrocortisone creams or oral antihistamines, especially if your symptoms are severe or get in the way of your daily life.
How Long Does It Take For Allergy Symptoms To Subside?
A skin allergy can take anything from 12 hours to three days to go away. But sometimes even when you’re getting treatment for the allergic reaction, it can still take a few weeks for all the symptoms to go away completely.
What To Know About Contact Dermatitis
Since coming into contact with silicone products commonly causes skin reactions to occur if you’re allergic to silicone, it’s important to understand a bit more about contact dermatitis.
This is the medical term for when you come into contact with an allergen and it causes symptoms to appear on the skin, such as a red, irritated rash.
There are two main types of contact dermatitis that can occur when you come into contact with an allergen, whether silicone or something else.
Irritant contact dermatitis
This is the more common type of contact dermatitis. It’s a nonallergic skin reaction that occurs when a substance causes damage to the outer layer of your skin.
So, if you come into contact with a harsh substance and you see that your skin flares up, it could be irritant contact dermatitis. But for other people, the substance can be mild and still cause a strong reaction.
Some of the most common irritants that can cause this type of contact dermatitis include solvents, cleaning products such as bleach, plants, shampoo, and pesticides, to mention a few.
Allergic contact dermatitis
This is when you come into contact with an allergen, or a substance that you’re sensitive to, and it causes your skin to experience an immune reaction to it. You’ll find that the area on your body that’s come into contact with the allergen is where symptoms will appear.
However, it is also possible to experience what’s known as systemic contact dermatitis, which is when you’ve ingested a substance that your body sees as an allergen, such as an ingredient in food, medicine, or even dental procedures. This could cause other symptoms.
How your body reacts to the allergen will vary from how others might experience it. For example, you might find that you experience symptoms after one exposure to the allergen, while other people will have many exposures until their body displays a reaction to it.
However, it’s important to realize that once you experience a reaction to an allergen, your body will react to even small amounts of it. That’s why it’s best to avoid whatever is triggering that immune response in your body. Some allergic reactions also get worse over time, which can be dangerous.
How To Prevent Contact Dermatitis
As mentioned earlier, you should avoid the allergen to prevent reactions such as contact dermatitis. But sometimes it’s not easy to do so.
Taking the example of silicone, it’s not always easy to know what products contain silicone and you could be coming into contact with it on a daily basis. This substance can be quite insidious. That said, if contact does occur, you can help to reduce the contact dermatitis. Here’s how.
- Immediately wash your skin. If you come into contact with something and realize it contains an allergen or you see that your skin is already flaring up, wash your skin with fragrance-free soap and warm water.
- Wear gloves or other protective clothing. When you use irritants, such as household cleaning products, always make sure you protect your skin.
- Keep your skin moisturized. Since contact dermatitis can injure the protective layer of your skin, it can help to use moisturizer on your skin regularly. This works to protect your skin while also restoring its outermost layer. In addition, when your skin is soft and hydrated instead of dry, this can lead to less irritation.
How Long Does Contact Dermatitis Take To Disappear?
After you’ve come into contact with the allergen or irritant, the rash that appears on your skin can last for between two and four weeks. You might find that it appears within minutes or hours of exposure to the substance.
Once you’re no longer in contact with the allergen, your skin will be able to heal. It’s good to know that usually contact dermatitis goes away on its own.
During this time, it’s important to avoid causing more irritation to the skin by scratching it. This can also lead to complications, such as infections that need to be treated with antibiotics.
What Is Silicone Toxicity?
Not to be confused with a silicone allergy, silicone toxicity is the danger of coming into contact with liquid silicone. This is highly toxic, which is why medical professionals have warned against the practices of using liquid silicone in cosmetic surgery fillers.
Liquid silicone is allowed in breast implants, though. This is because the silicone is held inside the shell of the implants, therefore preventing it from getting into the bloodstream – as long as the implants don’t tear and leak!
Liquid silicone can be extremely dangerous. If you come into contact with it, it can be poisonous if ingested, injected, or even absorbed into the skin.
While you might think that if you don’t have medical procedures such as cosmetic fillers you’re safe and won’t come into contact with liquid silicone, this isn’t necessarily the case. You can come into contact with silicone that melts, and this liquid form of it is what you need to be very careful about.
For example, if the silicone baking dish you’re using melts. This can happen if you’re not using medical-grade, high-quality silicone.
It’s important not to handle the baking dish in such a way that your skin comes into contact with it and never eat food that’s come into contact with melted or liquid silicone.
Another thing that can happen which could expose you to liquid silicone is if your hygiene products contain silicone and these get into your nose, mouth, or eyes.
An example is shampoo. Whether or not you’re allergic to silicone, always make sure you’re careful when using products that contain liquid silicone. You have to scrutinize ingredients lists!
In the case of breast implants, if these leak, they can cause silicone to enter the bloodstream. This is considered a medical emergency. It can lead to various symptoms as well as illness.
Silicone exposure can lead to health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, vasculitis, systemic lupus erythematosus, as Healthline reports.
How rare are silicone allergies?
Silicone allergies are so rare, in fact, that it’s difficult to find statistics related to how many people suffer from this type of allergic reaction! That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, though.
When should you go to the doctor for contact dermatitis?
If the contact dermatitis covers a large part of skin, is close to your eyes or mouth, or doesn’t get better on its own, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. He or she will prescribe you steroid cream to give you relief.
A silicone allergy doesn’t affect many people, but it’s something not to take lightly. As can be seen in this article, some potential symptoms of a silicone allergy can be life-threatening.
After reading this guide to silicone allergies, you’ll see that it’s of the utmost importance to consult with your doctor if you suspect that you could be allergic to silicone.
Your doctor will run some tests to find out if you really are allergic or not so you can stay healthy and avoid future allergic reactions.
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