Parabens are preservatives used in the production of toiletries, cosmetics, and similar personal care products to prevent the growth of bacteria and increase the lifespan of a product.
Most pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries also make use of parabens as a result of their fungicidal and bactericidal properties. Irrespective of their group, parabens are similar since they all contain the base “paraben” molecule but each has different numbers of hydrogen and carbon atoms joined to a branch of the primary molecule.
As an allergen, they always cross-react as more than one paraben is often used for each product. Allergy to parabens is not common compared to the number of people that use these chemicals on a daily basis.
Originally, parabens were known to be useful antifungal and antibacterial agents in the early 1920s, leading to their use as a preservative. The colorless, odorless, and inexpensive properties inherent to parabens make them a preferred option when trying to extend the shelf life of consumer goods.
Virtually almost everybody uses a product that contains parabens. This unique chemical can be found in shampoo, toothpaste, conditioner, shaving products, and makeup, toothpaste, moisturizers, and make-up. Some of the products without parabens are antiperspirant and deodorant.
Manufacturers make use of several types of parabens, such as butylparabens, propylparabens and methylparabens. These chemicals should be written on the product label.
Each product may contain different types of parabens with other preservatives to protect the product from a variety of microorganisms. Nevertheless, using several parabens provides a broad spectrum of protection, which means the producer can use a smaller quantity of paraben and still be efficient.
Although majority of parabens are natural-occurring products others are produced in a laboratory. Methylparaben, for instance, is a natural anti-microbial found in blueberries. Thus, many of the food industries also use synthetic parabens to increase the shelf life of some of your favorite food products.
Originally, parabens are non-toxic, at least in the reports with laboratory rats, but parabens have been the subject of different investigations over the last few years. In 1984, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review reported that parabens were safe for use.
Responsible for reviewing cosmetic safety standards, the CIR is an industry-sponsored organization. To support this claim, an article published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology in 2004 further suggested a connection between parabens and breast cancer. Several studies have also reported parabens to exist in extremely low concentrations in cancerous breast tumors.
Other health issues associated with parabens such as minor skin irritation and contact dermatitis have also been reported. It is important to note that just a small percent of the American population suffers from an allergy to parabens (FDA, 2016). Also, using parabens directly on your skin may increase your risk for DNA damage or increased skin aging.
While scientists reported a connection between breast cancer and estrogen, the Food and Drug Administration also reveals that parabens sometimes behave like estrogen. Because parabens have less estrogenic value than do natural hormones, there is an ongoing disagreement among the scientific community as to whether parabens can cause breast cancer. The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) handles the safety assessment for using parabens in cosmetics.
While the controversy continues about the dangers and benefits of Parabens, the cosmetic industries strive to produce more products with less controversial ingredients. Therefore, the majority of these products may prove to have less potential damages for those who rely on these products.
The Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is severe, and it’s known to be a significant disease that is estimated to affect up to 18 million Americans each year. The diseases come with high economic impact; in terms of both loss of income, work, and school, patient morbidity—not to mention the significant costs for the visits to various health care providers and medications.
Why are parabens of great concern?
For a lot of people, parabens pose no immediate danger, which is good because they are present in many products. Although parabens are considered non-toxic, they can act like estrogen and mix with the cells in our bodies preventing normal hormone function.
There are likely concerns for a risk of breast cancer because of this, but tests done at this level have indicated that it has an exponentially lower impact than the estrogen from birth control pills. Because lab tests have focused on a single paraben in a single product, and since parabens are mixed with other chemicals in a great number of products in our environment, no authentic conclusions about the current society’s paraben use can yet be drawn, either against or for their use. There is growing evidence, however, that butylparaben can combine with UVB rays and leave skin more susceptible to sun damage.
For people allergic to parabens, this poses a risk; they can induce rashes or increase the condition of the existing rashes. Continuous contact with low concentrations of parabens over a longer period of time may worsen sensitivity; this means that parabens are sensitizers. In order to find out if you’re allergic to parabens undergo an allergen patch test because this kind of text is accurate in determining allergies.
What are the Symptoms of Paraben Allergy?
Some of the reactions to parabens include rashes in places where paraben-containing products are either rinsed or used on the body and worsening of existing rashes.
However, the allergy on the face could manifest as itchy or swollen eyes as well as itchiness and rashes. Just like other allergy types, the first step in clearing up the warning signs or symptoms is avoidance.
Once the allergens are removed, the symptoms are best treated with paraben-free topical medications relevant to the location of the reaction, according to your doctor’s prescriptions. Although allergy to internally ingested parabens rarely occurs it is still possible and is less probably diagnosed without a particular testing request (probably you have a good reason if you realize this).