Allergic skin reactions can be caused by many different chemical compounds contained in creams for skin care, cosmetics and other consumer products, but how they cause a reaction, which remained a mystery until this time.
New research showing how some chemicals displace natural fatlike molecules known as lipids in the skin cells, may explain how cosmetic ingredients cause allergic contact dermatitis. The results of the study can help prevent the increasing incidence of rash, blisters, itchy eyes and facial swelling.
Currently the only way to stop allergic contact dermatitis is to identify and avoid contact with the chemical substance causing the reaction. Most allergies are associated with proteins or synthetic peptide antigens that cause an immune system response. Ointment topical application can help soothe the rash and corticosteroids can be used to treat serious cases, although they may increase the risk of infections and other side effects. A new study found that allergic contact dermatitis can be prevented by applying lipids to the skin, displacing the substances that cause an immune response.
Jamie Rasgon, Professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, was among a group of international researchers, studied the role of protein in the skin, known as CD1a, in allergic reactions to cosmetics. “Typically, many molecules CD1a filled with natural blockers in the body that prevents excessive immune response and these allergens and remove these natural blockers,” said the Professor.
Part of the research was focused on small chemical substances that are contained in many essential oils and plant extracts such as Peruvian balsam, a resin obtained from the bark of the balsam tree is found in many cosmetic products, toothpaste and fragrances, and farnesol. “Peruvian balsam is used in natural products. He comes from wood not chemically synthesized, so was very popular. But, unfortunately, a significant number of people – up to 5% of the population – are allergic to it,” said Mr. Rasgon.
Using high-energy x-ray beam at the Australian synchrotron at Monash University, the researchers were able to describe how protein and CD1a farnesol, another common additive in cosmetics and creams for the skin, interact at the molecular level. Marcin Migraci from the Institute of biomedical research of Monash stated that the findings explain how certain compounds contained in the care products skin and cosmetics, can directly interact with proteins of the person.
Despite the high degree of ability to cause allergies, Peruvian balsam is still used in some products. The researchers are now looking for new molecules that could block the response of CD1a and cancel your activation of immune cells.