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A Perfect Storm of Allergies October 20, 2010

Posted by Dev in Musings.
Tags: , , , ,

You know how they say things come in threes. It certainly is true and I’ve lately gone through it with allergies—not mine, fortunately but still, some useful info to share on the blog.

Allergy number one was a co-worker who developed a contact dermatitis on her neck. Not too attractive and it itched like mad. One nice thing about working in healthcare is that there is usually a spare nurse practitioner or doctor who can look at things. In this case, we even had a dermatologist on hand. He looked, confirmed our working diagnosis of a contact dermatitis and ran through the litany of things that might be causing it. Any changes in products that she used? Soap? Laundry detergent? Perfume? No, no, no, but then she remembered she had purchased a new hair conditioner…designed to “make my hair shiny, but not crunchy or brittle.” The doctor thought that might be the culprit and suggested she stop using it. She was annoyed—it was expensive—but the itching was more annoying so she took his advice.

Allergy number two was a letter to Dan Savage where the guy wrote that he had always had terrible pain during anal sex, often continuing to the next day. He discovered that the culprit was the lube he was using. His Google research suggested that the irritant might be glycerin. He bought a glycerin-free lube and voilà! A brand new day. He wrote:

I feel like this is the most amazing sexual discovery of my life so far. In talking to friends who “never bottom,” this kind of irritation seems to be the common reason. Although I consider myself fairly well educated about sexual health, I’d never come across this bit of info, and I hope it helps someone!

The comments are interesting with many people mentioning other potential allergens in lube including parabens, propylene glycol, and citric acid. Latex condoms can also be a culprit and one commenter recommended polyisoprene condoms instead, such as those that can be found here.

Incident number three (not sure if it was an allergy or not) was my own beloved Ab. He had his new Jailbird and was adjusting to wearing it and wearing a metal device after a few weeks in polycarbonate. Thumper suggested System JO lubricant to keep things comfortable—he said he couldn’t live without it and uses it twice a day. I read the product description: “long lasting, fragrance and odor free.” Sounds good to me (I don’t like scented products) so I ordered up a bottle. Ab used it one day and said it stung like crazy all day long. Hmmmm…. He went back to baby powder for comfort.

Then, I read a post at Chastity Forums from Shane who was trying to get comfortable in a polycarbonate CB and having a terrible time. It burned, it itched, it caused large red welts. On his blog he wrote:

I’m trying to get to the point where I can wear the CB-6000S pretty much all time time. I only got it a month ago, and wearing it has been really tough. I’m trying to go slow, but still managed to develop some sores along the A-ring. This has happened twice already, with the last time three nights ago. I’ve not worn the device since, but this morning things seemed to have healed up, so I’m back to trying again. What I’ve found out is that the first day or so is excruciating, and then I sort of adapt. I remove it every once in awhile when it’s too much and after five days or so of almost continuous wear, it’s almost bearable. And then sores happen and I have to take it off for few days. I’m cursed with a high and tight ball sack so until it stretches, it appears I’ll just have put up with the discomfort.

I didn’t think this could possibly be normal. I knew how Ab had adjusted to the exact same device—no open sores or excruciating pain! I sent Shane an email and asked if he had considered an allergic reaction? I realized that polycarbonate is not usually an allergen but his skin reaction just seemed so dramatic I thought that something was amiss. And I was right. A few days ago he posted this:

That burning feeling is NOT normal! I’m apparently allergic to Cyclopentasiloxane, at least when used with a CB-6000. Cyclopentasiloxane is the main ingredient in both JO Premium and Swiss Navy silicon lube, and also one of the ingredients in J&J Baby Gel. I’ve used one of these three products almost since day one two months ago, and I would always get this really nasty burning feeling around the A-ring that started about 15 minutes after I put the device on, and that never completely subsided. At around the 24 hour mark, it would get to be too much and I would take the device off to discover a nice big red welt, or worse. I didn’t think it was a reaction because as soon as I took the device off, the burning went away, and well, because I’ve used silicon lube in the past for its intended application (ahem) with no ill effect.

Well! That was an interesting discovery. We have the JO with CPS (the abbreviation for cyclopentasiloxane)—I wonder if that is what bothered Ab? We haven’t used it or tried it for anything since that first day and now I am very leery. I’ve also discovered that CPS is in many hair products because of…

It’s ability to impart a wet and silky look makes it an ideal candidate in hair products, both rinse off and leave on ones. It’s particularly useful in hair conditioners because it provides a silky feel without weighing the hair down with greasy residue.

I called my co-worker, had her look at the bottle and sure enough, CPS is a main ingredient. Unfortunately, I can’t verify anything with the Dan Savage letter writer but I am curious if the culprit might have been CPS, not glycerin. Who knows?

My take-away: Read labels carefully. If a new product bothers your skin, stop using it. Don’t assume you’ll get used to it or it will get better. And watch out for CPS.