Study indicates rise in allergies to natural skincare ingredient

25 Mar 2020

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology has indicated that allergies to propolis, an ingredient found in many natural skin products, has more than doubled since 2007.

Propolis is a mixture that honeybees produce by mixing saliva, beeswax and
plant exudates, and it can be found in a range of cosmetics such as shampoos, conditioners, lipsticks, lip balms, lotions and toothpastes.

The analysis of 125,436 people took place between 2007 and 2018 across Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and gathered data using patch tests. Between 2010 and 2018, the study found an increase of 68% in positive allergy testing to propolis.

Professor Wolfgang Uter, lead author of the study, said, “The increase in allergy to propolis that we have observed certainly warrants targeted investigation of what is driving sensitisation. At present, we do not know the full extent of its availability and how widely it is used. If the allergy trend continues, we will need to consider a reassessment of risk, and probably risk management such as a limit on the concentration of propolis allowed in products that are left on the skin.”

Nina Goad, head of communications for The British Association of Dermatologists, commented, “Currently, propolis is not routinely included in patch testing in the UK, so the level of allergies here cannot be fully established. However, if trends in its use in the UK show an increase, a similar situation would be expected in our allergy clinics. While there may be bene ts to natural skincare products, it shouldn’t be assumed that they are safer for the skin than their non-natural counterparts. If somebody experiences a skin reaction, a natural skin product shouldn’t be ruled out as the culprit.”

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