Things You Probably Didn’t Know Were Allergens

Spring has arrived, and for many people, it’s the season of allergies. Peanuts and pollens are the most common allergens this time of year, but experts say almost anything in the environment can be an allergen, according to a CNN report.

Dr. Matthew Zirwas, a contact dermatitis expert at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center, says anything around you can make you break out in hives, “whether it’s something that’s very synthetic or man-made… or it’s something totally natural like a botanical extract.”

From CNN.com, here’s a list of things you didn’t know you could be allergic to:

Baby Wipes

Many cleansing wipes have a chemical preservative called methylisothiazolinone, or MI, which serves as replacement for preservatives such as paraben and formaldehyde in pre-moistened personal hygiene wipes and baby wipes. While MI has been around for decades, putting it into widespread use brought the allergy to chemists’ attention.

Your Favorite Lotion

Dr. Zirwas says people are genetically susceptible to be allergic to a certain chemical, such as those in our favorite lotion. “You can use something for years and years and years with no problem at all,” he says. But “once you’re allergic to it, you’ll stay allergic your whole life.”

Red Meat

Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills and his colleague Dr. Scott Commins discovered a new allergy in 2009, called alpha-1,3-galactose — alpha-gal for short. Alpha-gal is essentially a bunch of sugars stuck together in blood. The scientists believed tick bites caused reactions that made humans allergic to the alpha-gal sugar found in red meat.

People with this allergy experience waking up in the middle of the night after eating meat covered in sweat and hives. A follow-up study published in 2011 showed tick bites significantly increase alpha-gal antibodies, possibly making our immune systems sensitive to red meat.