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NYC Allergist Ask: Are You Allergic to Love

NEW YORK, Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Clifford Bassett, a leading NYC Allergist of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York (http://www.nyc-allergist.com) states that it is possible to literally be allergic to Valentine's Day. There could be something standing in the way of that romantic rendezvous: allergies.  

Millions of Americans suffer from a myriad of allergic conditions, such as food, seasonal or skin allergies, but Valentine's Day comes with an additional benefit - a surge in visits to your Allergist.

Being allergic to love may seem counterintuitive, but according to a recent study published in Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, allergy sufferers reported more problems with sleep and sexual activity than other groups. In fact, 83 percent of people with allergic rhinitis (inflamed or irritated nasal passages) reported that their condition affected sexual activities. Think about it: If you can't breathe, your nose is running, and your eyes are itchy, you most likely don't feel very sexy.  

"It's my job to help people living with allergies," says Dr. Clifford Bassett. "Whether that's due to hay fever in the spring or reactions around certain traditions on Valentine's Day, I want to help my patients in every way I can."

Here are some things that may lead to an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals on Valentine's Day:

Makeup:  Who doesn't want to look their best for that special someone? For those who don't regularly wear makeup, but plan to on V-Day, keep in mind that many facial cosmetics, lipsticks and eye shadows can contain nut oils and fragrances which can affect those with food allergies.  If you're allergic to nut oils, you could find yourself fighting puffy eyelids or a bumpy rash on your face. Ladies, be warned: men can also experience a skin reaction to the facial products you wear.

Dark chocolate and oysters: Many think that dark chocolate and oysters have the most natural aphrodisiacs in them. But many might not realize that shellfish is the number one food for allergies in adults. Many chocolates often contain nuts, another highly allergic food - make sure to ask your waiter about this if dining out for that special evening.

Flowers:  The fragrance of a rose, star Jasmine, narcissus, gardenia, Lily of the Valley, citrus and eucalyptus trees are the most common flowers and plants whose fragrances can make people sneeze.  If you're sensitive, you may want to keep away from these plants.

Kissing: Nothing would be less romantic than breaking out in an allergic reaction when kissing the one you love. Possible allergic reactions to kissing include traces of trigger foods in your partner's mouth.  If your partner has eaten peanuts even four hours before kissing - and you are allergic to peanuts - you could be in serious danger. In fact, allergens can linger in a partner's saliva up to a full day following ingestion, irrespective of tooth brushing or other interventions. Some common allergic outbreaks to kissing include: lip-swelling, throat-swelling, rash, hives, itching and/or wheezing.

Skin contact: If your honey is using a fragrance, cosmetic or even a shaving cream that you're allergic to, you could be in trouble. Skin allergies include redness or irritation as well as hives and swelling of the skin. At least one recent study concluded that the majority of people will take into account the condition of one's skins when making a decision on whether to date someone.  

Massage oils: Before you decide to spoil your partner with a massage, make sure you buy allergy-free massage oil. If you buy the wrong kind of oil, you could find your special someone with a rash. Make sure the massage oil you use does not contain any fragrances or nut oils, and you should be good to go.

Sex: Lovemaking may inadvertently expose a person sensitive to chemicals found in spermicides, lubricants and/or latex condoms. Many couples might utilize a latex condom as a popular contraceptive technique that can provoke a localized or generalized allergic reaction if you are truly sensitive to latex rubber. There are tests available to confirm a hypersensitivity to latex rubber protein. There are also alternative types of condoms that do not contain latex.

Honey, honey? On V-Day, when thinking of something sweet for your honey, a recent study actually finds that some, may actually be allergic to honey, and suffer a generalized, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction, after ingesting honey, although this is quite uncommon.  If you experience any type of allergic reaction, seeing an allergist for in-office skin tests to pinpoint identify the cause of an allergic reaction, as is the case in this study, where the researchers found a likely sensitivity to honey.

The bottom line is there are a variety of potential allergy pitfalls lurking anytime of the year, especially on Valentine's Day.  So it is especially important to have a dialogue with your partner about his or her allergy triggers.   

"It's always better to play it safe by understanding your partner's allergies so those pesky allergies don't get in the way of enjoying Valentine's Day and every other day of the year," says Dr. Bassett.

SOURCE Dr. Clifford Bassett

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