My girlfriend is allergic to something around or about me, please help!

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Hello everyone. I’m posting this on behalf of my girlfriend who is having an issue related to allergy whenever she is around me or my house. I know this is a bit of a wall of text but please keep reading, we can use all the help we can get at this point. Also I’m posting this with her consent.  We are in a long distance relationship. I live in Europe, she lives in Asia. This has been going on for the past 2 years now, and during that time we’ve visited each other 4 times, usually for several weeks. The first time I went to Asia we met up and for the about 2 weeks that we were together nothing was out of the ordinary, no allergic reaction whatsoever.

The second time we met up she came to Europe, and that’s when problems started. After about a few days she started to develop an allergic reaction. The symptoms were: hives or rash on her face, ears, parts of her  arms and legs with quite severe itching, to the point when she had difficulty sleeping and couldn’t stop scratching. It looked like small red bumps. Also her eyes were extremely itchy to the point where it was hard for her not to keep rubbing them. After some time her private parts also got itchy. The itch was pretty much unbearable so we went to get some creams and medicine at the drug store.  I’m not sure what kind of cream that was, but the medicine was the antihistamine ‘’cetirizine’’. Also we got a kind of eye drops that provided only temporary relief.  All of these things had minimal effect as the rash continued throughout that visit. As soon as she left here, her symptoms gradually disappeared over the period of 1 to 2 weeks.

We started thinking about what could be the cause. We thought it may have been my fabric softener or detergent, so from that point on I changed to exclusively 100% neutral allergen free detergent so that that could not be the cause on my next visit.

The third time we met up I went to Asia. Apparently I was carrying the allergen again because after 1 or 2 days her symptoms started appearing again. By this time I had been washing with the allergen free detergent for 1 or 2 months. The symptoms were exactly the same as the last time, however of somewhat lesser degree, but still enough to be very uncomfortable. To take some measures I started washing with her soaps and shampoos, and to be sure I washed all of my clothing again with her detergent. Also I avoided using any deodorants and stuff like that, despite it being in the middle of a hot summer. Also I don’t use any hair gels. Again her symptoms went away about a week after I left.

Sometime later I went to Asia again to visit. This visit was kind of bad in general as we got flu for different reasons. Despite that, her symptoms reoccurred again after a day or two,  to a similar lesser degree like last visit. She went to a doctor and got some different medicine for allergy that worked only somewhat. Again her symptoms went away about a week after I left.

Recently she got a general allergy test for the most common allergies. The results only showed around 50% chance of allergy for dogs. She has frequent contact with a dog which give her no allergic reaction. Also a very small percentage of allergy to cats. I do have cats in the house, but actually her family house has also had a cat since she was younger. She has never gotten a reaction from that cat, and no reaction recently still. So unless Asian cats and European cats differ greatly in terms of the allergens they carry, that also seems an unlikely cause. The test also showed a very small percentage for allergy to molds and fungus. As far as I know I don’t have those around my house, and I don’t see how I could have carried a sufficient amount of that to Asia in my suitcase.  Molds also seem unlikely. The test shows she is not allergic to pollen and dust mites, unlike me. I’m allergic to dust mites myself.

On the internet I’ve been reading up about allergies to a protein in semen that some people have. This also seems unlikely. For reasons we don’t really have oral or anal sex down below, with or without condom (which would also eliminate latex allergy). I can say semen has made contact with her mouth, but no allergic reaction has developed in or around her mouth which would make semen allergy unlikely.

As far as she knows she’s never had any allergic reaction to any kind of food.

I really hope the allergy is not the result of some sort of psychosomatic response. (perhaps in combination with some otherwise harmless allergen). I wouldn’t really know how we could deal with such an allergic response.

Is there maybe something we overlooked? Some other possible causes that come to mind? She will be visiting again soon and I really hope we can prevent her allergies this time. Many thanks for all the help and advice you can provide.

1 like, 65 replies

65 Replies

  • Posted

    I will come back to your post because I don't have time now but when you talk about 'allergen free' - don't take any notice!

    What about going through the washing powder, fabric softener etc that your girl friend uses and then compare the ingredints to those on your products, you might spot something that isn't in any of her products.  Don't forget, creams, shampoos etc etc..

    I found that I am allergic to formaldehyde and formaldehde releasers but now I know the chemical names and what contsins these chemicals I am quite adept at avoiding them.

    I also discovered, for example, that Sweden and Japan do not allow them in any of their products, so, I drive a Japanese car, I used to drive Swedish cars until I bought one VW - a mistake!

    I will come back to this - maybe you should look at formaldehyde - it is in everything.  What country does your girlfriend come from?


    • Posted

      Thanks for your reply. We didn't consider formaldehyde yet, so we're going to investigate that one. I wasn't going to mention our true nationality, but in light of you mentioning Japan as a country who banned formaldehyde, I can say she is Japanese. 

      I know that the laundry detergent I use now is probably not allergen free, however it's from a brand called ''Neutral''. This brand has a whole line of products including shampoos, soaps, detergents etc. specially made for people with sensitive skin and allergies. However it's true that it could still trigger some allergic reaction. I'll compare the ingredients of my girlfriend's and mine soon.


    • Posted

      That is very interesting.  I have looked for 'Neutral' it's not a name I recognise but I see it is owned by Unilever.  I will pm you with a little info.
  • Posted

    To give a little update on our investigation, my girlfriend has tried several products that contain formaldehyde releasers on her skin. These cosmetic products at least contained the known releaser ''diazolidinyl urea''. After 24 hours she did not have any reaction whatsoever. Formaldehyde allergy seems unlikely. 
  • Posted

    I know you said you changed shampoos and things but did you check deoderants and perfume products? 
  • Posted

    Hi Anon,

    Any luck yet with the cause?

    Im probably allergic to my girlfriend. I get teary eyes and develop eczema from that. It has probably nothing to do with products that we use, so I think is something that comes from her body. Any idea what that could be?

    • Posted

      Hello Dolceb,

      My girlfriend and I have had a couple more visits since I posted the thread and on every occasion she has had similar symptoms. Last visit we got a chance to do some testing at a specialist skin doctor. Blood testing gave no results even while she was having the symptoms. 

      We're a little bit stuck again but since almost everything else has been ruled out there is not much left. I suppose the most likely thing at this point is some sort of psychosomatic response. Perhaps my girlfriend is sensitive to something around me and her in her daily life but it does not give any noticable effect, but the added sircumstance of me being around her of course has an effect on her body chemistry (hormones etcetera), this may cause her light sensitivity to something to become more pronounced.

      Perhaps over time, if we even live together for a longer time, the symptoms will go away as her body gets used to the new circumstances, however as of yet we have not been able to test that. There is a small chance we will be closed together for a longer time as she may get an internship in my country. Perhaps that will give some more answers.

      Anyway most of this is speculation based on some factual results. Perhaps if you can elaborate on your circumstances we can help each other to find a cause. Information like have you ever had an allergy test? do you have known allergies etcetera?


    • Posted

      I had forgotten about things like furniture.  Perhaps if you have a newish settee or bed, they could be the source.  It was a car that triggered my allergy.  It can be leather or other materials.

      & Dolceb, yours sounds like washing powder - pillow cases washed in whatever, trigger the weepy eyes.

      Good luck to you both & your girlfriends.


    • Posted

      Allergies can crop up from the constituents of mattresses. Perhaps try sleeping on a different bed when she visits?
  • Posted

    I have an allergy to sweetcorn/corn/maize. It is included in loads of things so I doubt that is the cause, but if I have something which affects it, it may take weeks or even months to fully get over the resulting symptoms and they can be wide ranging. Different products also take different times to affect me from immediately to some will take a day or two, but there is no doubt about the cause.

    One thing that affects me and may be worth you loking into is products which contain ingredients listed as perfume, perfum or fragrance. Different countries use different products and the ones in the UK and most of the western word are petro-chemicals including known toxons, neuro-toxins, carcogenics, etc. There are very few products which do not contain these chemicals. They also contain formaldahyde that someone mentioned. In particular Linomene is known to release formaldahyde and is commonly used in lots of products, its one of the few commonly used natural scents. As well as a health risk they are also addictive and and a common allergen.

  • Posted

    Sometimes things like latex in condoms and sperm killer gels are overlooked as is something she would use when she is with you.
  • Posted

    I have very similar reactions whenever I spend a night with my boyfriend. Itchy and red eyes, lips swell and are irritated, skin rash in my arms. We used to live in different cities and only saw each other once a month. The symptoms were more severe at his place but also present when he visited me.

    First I thought that there were dust mites at his place, but when I had the same symptoms when he was visiting me, I ruled that option out. My second guess was mould at his place (and mould in his clothes would cause the reaction when visiting me). Now he moved to a new place but the symptoms have continued. He doesn't use deodorant, fragrances or skin care products (except for shampoo and soap). I'm allergic to cats, dogs and pollen, but my boyfriend isn't around any of these. I haven't had any allergies to soaps, shampoos, fragrances or whatsoever. No itching in private parts after sex, so I'd rule out semen allergy.

    Only time when I haven't got any kind of symptoms was when we slept outdoors in a tent for a weekend. Otherwise everything was just like all the other times we have met: he used the same clothes, we had sex (ruling out the semen allergy, that someone for sure tries to suggest), etc.

    I really don't know what to do with this. I'm pretty sure that I'm allergic to his sweat or dander. I have talked to two doctors about this and they don't believe that I could be allergic to something in my boyfriend's body. I would be very interested to hear if you find out what this is about.

    • Posted

      I'm sorry to hear you are having trouble as well. It's been more than a year since I created the thread and me and my girlfriend are still having troubles. All times we have met each other since she still had a reaction to something. She has medicine that works pretty well for her, but obviously it's not really an option for her to keep taking that her whole life. For one she may get more used to the medication over time which makes it less effective. 

      As for a cause we are not a lot closer to an answer. We went to a specialist skin doctor that ruled out some other common allergies with blood testing, so that's not it for sure. However that particular doctor said it was nothing serious in any case. 

      Our best guess is still that the reaction is due to a psychosomatic response. Since we're apart for months at a time her body is not used to being with me, so the abnormal imbalance of hormones and whatnot may trigger a reaction. The mind has a pretty powerful effect on the body as well, so who can say what the cause is exactly in the case of a psychosomatic response. 

      In any case we are still trying stuff. I will be visiting her again in a couple of weeks. In advance I'm going to send some of my clothing, some of which I have worn for several hours. Whether she reacts to that or not should give us some clue. I'll let you know how that goes. 

      Thanks for your reply. Also if you have any new clues, please share smile

    • Posted

      Thanks for the prompt response. As unpleasant as this situation is, it is comforting to hear that there are other people struggling with this. I hope we can figure out what this is all about, even though your reason might be different from ours. It sounds like your girlfriend's symptoms are more severe than mine - on the other hand, my boyfriend and I have normally spent only a long weekend together at a time, not several weeks. My symptoms ease as soon as my boyfriend is not around anymore. The biggest issue is the eyes, that get very ichy and I can't help rubbing them. I'm using eye drops for allergy whenever the symptoms appear, and at the moment I'm taking cetirizine allergy medicine for other allergies, but maybe I should keep on taking them over the winter as well. I do have asthma and I'm pretty sensitive to mould, as I was exposed to it as a child. None of the other allergies affect my eyes, though, it's more respiratory issues, sneezing and itchy/runny nose.

      I moved to the same city as my boyfriend two weeks ago, and now I'm curious to see whether symptoms will proceed. He has also moved to a new flat. I was pretty sure earlier that there was mould in his old flat, but his summer subletter didn't have any symptoms there nor any other person who has stayed there. I haven't stayed over at his new flat yet, so I don't know about possible symptoms. But he has slept over at my place a few times and I started having itchy eyes again. He had moved out of his old place already in May and went traveling for the summer, and has since washed his clothes several times, so I don't think it's anything from his old flat.

      Writing the earlier comment made me think why I didn't get any symptoms when we slept in a tent few weeks ago. I think the reason was that, because of thermal underwear and sleeping bags, we weren't sleeping so cuddled up as normally. I only get the symptoms when we sleep in the same bed and thereby are very close - once we met only for a few hours to hang out in the city and my eyes were all normal after that. I wrote earlier that my best guess is that I'm allergic to his dander or sweat, mainly because I read an article about it. I have to say that my boyfriend doesn't shower every day (maybe every third day?), so maybe he has more dander than avarage? This is a very sensitive issue, that I haven't brought up with him yet, because it's a bit hard to tell someone to shower more often (it doesn't bother me otherwise).

      Despite all the nuisance, your girlfriend can be happy that you have been ready to do so much to solve the situation. My boyfriend, unfortunately, doesn't take this very seriously. He actually takes it a bit personally, even though I try my best not to blame it on him. Now I'm going to ask him to try allergen free detergents, just to rule out that possibility, but I'm not sure if he will do it. Asking him to do this is a bit silly because I don't get any kind of symptoms from normal shampoos and face creams that I use myself; I'm not a heavy user of cosmetics but I use the avarage amount of hair spray, face creams and such. Ironically, my boyfriend has more of a natural approach as he doesn't use deadorant or creams at all, only shampoo and shower gel. That is why I'm very sceptical that it would be anything from detergents or cosmetics. I also travel a lot, stay at friends' places around the world, couchsurf and such, and I have never had any allergic reactions even though I must have been exposed to a very large variety of different kind of detergants when sleeping in those linen.

      Anon991100, I know that you suspect psychosomatic response, but have the skin doctors checked if your girlfriend is allergic to your dander or sweat (I don't know if that's possible to test)? I'm considering seeing skin doctor about this, after I will have stayed a few times at my boyfriend's new flat. Thank you once again for sharing this.

    • Posted

      I found an article about hormone allergy:


      I have not noticed any kind of link between my menstrual cycle and allergic reactions. However, my menstrual cycle is very irregular even at the age of 30 (which would require a diagnosis of its own), so it's very hard to say when my hormones or up or not. Also, I don't know if my own hormone levels really matter so much as that of my boyfriend's.

      Anon991100: Out of what I have described to you about our situation, have you found any similarities with yours?

    • Posted

      I also found this academic article about hormone allergy. So basically a woman can be allergic to her own hormones, as the sex hormone production is often increased when together with a partner.

      Like I said in the previous comment, I have had irregular menstrual cycle all my life (I'm now 30). My sister and mother have been diagnosed with high female testosterone levels (which cause irregular cycle), and I've been supposed to get checked already for years but I haven't got around to it - but now I will for sure. I don't know if it makes any difference but I'm having a hormone IUD for the fourth year now. Apparently, hormonal changes can lead to increased sensitivity to allergens.

      However, incidentally, my boyfriend and I are in an open relationship, which means that I have had other sex partners during this one year that we have been together. I've never had the same symptoms with these one night stands, nor with any of my previous partners before this boyfriend. If I were allergic to my own sex hormones, why I wouldn't I get the same reaction with other sex partners? Either way, I think I need to get this hormone thing checked.

    • Posted

      I think the main similarities are the symptoms, except for the swelling lips. Her main symptoms are the itchy eyes, which also she can't stop rubbing, and also the rash on her arms, but also rash on her face and parts of her legs. 

      I guess her mentrual cycle is also not so regular, but to be honest that can have so many causes including stress, still it could be related. 

      But other than that from what I can tell from your comments you seem to have more different allergies and sensitivities in general compared to my girlfriend. Like my gf basically has none, at least none that were tested. Also about sexual partners, for both of us this is our first serious relationship, and first intimacy, both of us have no prior sex partners so no way to tell if she would get it with other guys ( And we're not about to test that theory :D ) 

      My shower habits are different from your boyfriend's. I guess my body odor can be quite strong, so I really have to shower daily to minimize that in any case. At some time we even considered it could possibly be an allergic reaction to fungus and bacteria that grow in armpits. Those bacteria and fungi are actually what cause sweat to smell. I shaved my arm pit hair to try and minimize that but my girlfriend's reaction continued. 

      About an allergy specific to my dander, no we have not tested that. But I guess that is basically because the several doctors we have consulted don't consider that as an option. From what I can find on the internet there are no known cases of one human being allergic to another human's dander. 

      But the experiment I told you about, sending my clothes in advance, should rule that out. After all my dander is all over that, so if she gets no reaction from that, then it's probably not the dander. 

      I would also like to add that me and my girlfriend did spend some time together without allergy. It was actually the first time we met. We spent about a week together in total. That was about 3 weeks into my trip to her country at that time, so I had already been washing my clothes over there etcetera. However as I understand allergies, before you become allergic the body takes 1 or 2 weeks to actually recognise the allergen as a threat. So in case of that first encounter, that could have been the reason why she didn't get a reaction. 


    • Posted

      hey! where you able to figure out the cause? I'm currently going through the same thing with my significant other and we've tried multiple nothings and nothing has worked.

    • Posted

      Same here. Are your symptoms the same as everyone else's in the thread?

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