Allergy to hydroalcoholic gel: symptoms, treatments and alternatives

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the hydroalcoholic gel is making a comeback. Whether it is perfumed, colored, ultra basic or with essential oils, it is present in every pocket. But is it safe for our skin?

Hydroalcoholic gels are now essential accessories for everyday life, and they help fight against the spread of COVID-19. And yet, they sometimes cause allergies. Even if they are rather rare, they can be particularly disabling.

Allergy to hydroalcoholic gel symptoms?

In the case of an allergy to one of the components of the hydroalcoholic gel, one observes most often :

  • eczema,
  • red and inflamed patches which can sometimes ooze” explains Edouard Sève, allergist.

In some cases, the hydroalcoholic gel can cause slight burns when the skin is exposed to the sun. However, these allergies are not very frequent.

Atopic skin, that is, skin that is sensitive to allergies, is more vulnerable to inflammatory reactions. “Perfumes and other allergenic products penetrate the skin more easily when it is damaged. People with atopic skin must therefore be more vigilant”.

Also be careful not to put hydroalcoholic gel in the eyes. It can cause eye damage, especially in children, at the level of the distributors.

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Allergy to hydroalcoholic gel causes?

For the allergist, “people are not allergic to the hydroalcoholic gel as such, but rather to the various added components such as essential oils, dyes, perfumes or any other product”.

Some of these components are also present in cosmetic products such as creams, make-up or shampoos. If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any of these substances, you can visit your allergist for allergy testing.

Allergy to hydroalcoholic gel treatments?

There is no specific treatment. “You should try to take a gel that does not contain perfume or essential oil and stop contact with the product that triggered the reaction. To repair the damaged skin, I advise applying moisturizing cream or a corticoid cream if the eczema is pronounced” adds Edouard Sève.

For particularly damaged hands, the Eczema Foundation recommends applying dermocorticoids prescribed by the doctor/dermatologist to red patches (once a day, preferably in the evening). On dry areas, repair the skin barrier by applying moisturizing creams several times a day if necessary. And if necessary, apply barrier cream sticks, which are easy to use and carry and very effective on cracks”.

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What are the alternative solutions?

These allergies remain benign and generally heal with time. As the allergist explains, “these reactions can be disabling for people who wash their hands a lot, such as nursing staff. Each wash will reignite the inflammation and the wound will take time to heal.

It is also advisable to wash your hands more regularly with soap and water, which are non-irritating. If you cannot do without hydroalcoholic gel, choose the simplest one possible. It is composed of alcohol or ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and glycerol, to give it a gel texture, which moisturizes the skin and covers it with a protective film.

Limiting the risk of allergy

Here are some tips to limit the risk of allergy to the components of hydroalcoholic gels.

  • Avoid hydroalcoholic gels containing perfumes, essential oils and dyes that can cause allergic reactions;
  • Do not put on gloves immediately after applying the gel, as this increases its irritating power;
  • Follow the indications on the bottle to put the right quantity. These products are effective in small doses;
  • Avoid using gel if you have damaged skin or if you suffer from a skin disease;
  • Wash your hands as much as possible with soap, which is less irritating and allergenic than hydroalcoholic gel. Prefer neutral soaps without added products such as Marseille soap or Aleppo soap;
  • Do not expose yourself to the sun after using the gel, at the risk of getting sunburned;
  • Use the gel on a dry skin.
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Who should I see if I have an allergy?

If your hands do not heal, even after applying moisturizer and washing with soap, you can consult your doctor who can refer you to an allergist or dermatologist. They will be able to verify that you do not suffer from a skin pathology or allergy.

Apply your hydroalcoholic solution correctly

To optimize the effectiveness of the hydroalcoholic gel and slow down the transmission of COVID-19, it is essential to apply it properly at least 3 to 4 times a day. It is necessary to put a hazelnut of product in the hand, to rub the back of the hands, the palms, the wrists, the nails, the fingers, without forgetting the thumb. Attention, the gels are exclusively conceived for the hands, thus avoid the contact with the eyes or any other mucous membrane.