Allergic Reactions and Eye Irritation – Why You Need to Know the Difference

Posted by Brooke Wright on

Whether you are a seasoned pro or are just starting out in the lash industry, it is likely that you will have heard about or come across a few allergic reactions to eyelash extension adhesive. But did you know that some of these reactions are simply irritations? Knowing the difference between an allergic reaction and an irritation is vitally important to ensuring your clients safety and keeping them happy.

So, what exactly is an allergic reaction?

Allergic reactions are a response in the skin to an externally applied agent. This reaction is caused by the immune system releasing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), which travel to the affected cells and trigger the release of inflammatory chemicals called histamines. 

These histamines cause symptoms such as red, itchy, swollen, and puffy skin anywhere on the body, which can develop a few hours after contact with the allergen and last up to several weeks. It is important to remember that the symptoms do not have to appear at the site of application. Occasionally the reaction can cause blistering of the skin, which may require medical treatment.

While some chemicals are well known for causing allergic reactions, others are not so obvious, which is why it is so important to do a patch test before using chemicals on a client. This is also important as people can suddenly develop allergies to products which they have used previously with no problems. It might begin with a mild reaction, but it will become increasingly worse with each application.


What about irritation? 

Though the symptoms can be similar to allergic reactions, irritation does not involve a response from the immune system. Instead of releasing antibodies and histamines, the skin becomes inflamed at the point of contact with the irritant.

The skin may appear red, swollen, and itchy, as with allergic reactions, however the symptoms will appear only at the site of contact with the irritant. The symptoms also develop immediately after contact and last for up to 24 hours afterwards, unless the client is suffering with seasonal allergies, in which case the irritation may be more prolonged.  

Usually irritation is caused by adhesive fumes, though it can also be a harsh or abrasive cleanser, pre-treatment, or contaminated application tools.

Next week I will provide you with top tips on how to manage allergic reactions, so you can keep your clients smiling.


Happy lashing, lovelies

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