Sodium Benzoate allergy &Chronic Urticaria

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Hi there

Is anyone suffering from Chronic Urticaria as a result of an allergy to Sodium Benzoates?

Its a preservative found in many food, drinks and cosmetics. I've been eating well (no gluten, dairy, alcohol) which usually triggers my Urticaria and have just had a massive flare up for no reason.

Ive tested positive to a Benzoate allergy and realised I washed my hair in the shower with a shampoo that contains the preservative. Hands, face and legs now covered in hives.

Anyone experienced anything similar? This is such a dreadful disease. Im covered in scars due to the scratching because of the intense itch.

V

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17 Replies

  • Posted

    I've figured out that Shampoos/conditioners and suncream are a trigger for my itching/hives. I've not figured out which chemicals yet. But I know benzoates is a common problem for people. I just use natural soap and I'm looking for a better suncream. I had a Roc one before and that was better.

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    • Posted

      Great thanks for your response. I cant use soap on my hair as its long and coloured. So if I dont use proper products I will look like an upside down mop! Lol. But discovered a vegan shampoo Im gonna try that is low on preservatives. Try and identify the chemical you're allergic to as it could exist in other products as well.

      Its good to know someone else has experienced this - thanks

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    • Posted

      I dont use body soap with that product but my husband does do you think it would affect me if im sensitive to it and how do you join a group and respond to the group
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  • Posted

    I'm actually still suffering a bit today after a mostly sleepness night due to a horrendous bout of itching and hives that came on immediately after a haircut. The barber used shampoo, conditioner, a matt paste and a salt spray so who knows on that occasion. But I know at home Pantene is an issue. I'm pretty sure Citric Acid is a problem for me. I'm wary of citronnel, limonene and things like that too as well as benzoates.

    I uses to find the clear Sanex free body wash pretty good for my hair and body. It has relatively little in it, but then I switched to soap to be sure. But my hair is pretty short. Some people swear by Johnson's baby shampoo but that wasn't good for me.

    I wonder if this type of stuff is in washing powder though. It says very little on most packages which seems odd.

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    • Posted

      Hi there

      I also had a big breakout after a visit to the hairdresser. Sodium Benzoate is also called E211 on labels so you really need to read labels carefully to avoid it. The trick is to stay away from anything that is preserved and only eat whole fresh foods. Preserved stuff (whether it be food, body creams, hair products etc) are really dangerous if you have any allergy to this kind of stuff.

      I used the shampoo yesterday morning and am still suffering badly. I have upped my cortisone now which I hate doing but no choice as the Fexo alone doesnt provide enough relief when its this bad. So irritating but Im glad I identified another trigger. Its Redken - expensive too!

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    • Posted

      Were the hives isolated to your head/neck? For me it kind of spread everywhere after starting with my head, ears and face, then neck but pretty quick even my legs were itchy.
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    • Posted

      No not isolated to my head and neck. Mainly my hands , face and now legs! Probably gets absorbed into your body and then breaks out everywhere.

      Yes I know about the natural foods which are high in benzoates. I try to avoid those.

      Also I believe the benzoate allergy is cumulative so every time you expose yourself to it, it "tops" up the levels of toxin.

      How long does your itching normally last after exposure? Im going nuts!

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    • Posted

      You know, you got me thinking, I've never really fully investigated the whole thing of washing powders. I notice people in the Eczema forms complaining about the lack of ingredients and saying how problematic these can be. A lot of people seem to recommend Filleti washing powder. Waitrose sell it and it seems to be one of the less irritating ones for baby skin. I wonder if it's worth looking into?

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    • Posted

      It usually lasts about 3 days and the second night is the worst for me. It's not the hives so much with me, they are relatively few and benign. It's the infuriating general itching all over and the insomnia that causes.

      Hopefully it will be quicker for you, especially with cortisone. BTW, I've been finding Gabapentin helpful for my itching now I am off Cyclosporine. I'm due to try Mycophenolate Mofetil next month after holidays.

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    • Posted

      Gosh thats exactly the same for me! 3 days and 2nd day/night is the worst. Also not hives but general all-over itching!
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  • Posted

    By the way, some natural foods (e.g. some berries) are naturally high in benzoates. You may or may not find those problematic too.
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    • Posted

      What kind of berries because i had bad itching and hives for two weeks and the only thing i can think of is rasberry gellato i had and i never eat rasberries so could very ell be that
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  • Posted

    Hi,

    I suspect I react to this and similarly the 2nd day is always worse. I did an elimination diet recently, 3 weeks elimination followed by reintroducing foods 1 at a time. Unfortunately I didn't get to the end of it because it was my 30th birthday party. But it took about 2 weeks for hives to go down to 5a day (never gone completely in last 11months). I know that I am definitely sensitive to salicylate (also in many natural foods and products), as well as additives/flavourings/colourings. But couldn't pinpoint exactly which ones.

    My plan is once I'm back from holidays to do another elimination so I can test benzoates, additives etc separately so I can be sure exactly what I react to. The elimination part was very tough as I love food! And washed my hair and body with homemade shampoo, water & bicarbonate soda!! It was very much worth it though! As it's the only time I've felt I had it under control!

    I found the Australian website fedup very good with lists of ingredients names and numbers and products to avoid etc.

    I'm waiting for this to burn out as the dr's say it will but I don't feel hopeful after nearly a year of horrible hives, itching and swelling.

    It really does take over your life, but you can't let it beat you.

    Good luck.

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    • Posted

      Thanks for your response and the info. The elimination diet is TOUGH! I did it for about 6 weeks, lost lots of weight and it helped with the itch. However I just found it qasnt sustainable as unfortunately I cant eat any gluten, any wheat, any dairy nor any alcohol (over and above no preservatives, colourings, and benzoates). It makes going to eat out impossible and really got me down. So now I still cut out wheat, gluten, dairy, preservatives and benzoates on a permanent basis but when Im stable I allow myself a glass of wine or a non-preserved sweet treat.

      What Ive also found is because the urticaria is so uncontrollable and strikes badly without warning, the one area I can "control" is my health. So I try to eat as clean as possible and exercise (when not itching). It doesnt prevent the urticaria but it does go a little way to ensure I dont feel like an itching blubbering mess!

      Stress is my main contributor so Im keen to start yoga or pilates to relax a bit.

      Good luck too. Helps to know Im not the obly one suffering. One cant let it get you down and when it eases off, you realise that. But when you are at the height of a bad flare up, I sometimes just want to exchange my body for someone elses :-)

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    • Posted

      Gosh that is so tough! You did well to last 6 weeks! Thankfully I'm ok with dairy, wheat I'm still unsure, seems to be ok, but once you have flare ups and you've eaten a few different things it's hard to tell. I'm going to do another elimination and pick up where I left off.

      I know what you mean at the time it is unbearable and it's so hard to get across to people how awful it is!

      I've just been given short course of steroids to get a relief so I can enjoy my holiday. I really didn't want to but felt I needed to feel normal for a few weeks.

      Hope you recover and it goes forever for you! All the best xxx

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    • Posted

      I did a few seperate elimination diets to try and work out if the following would help:

      Histamine

      Benzoates

      Sulphites

      Salicylates

      There's overlap between them, but I think it's almost impossible to exclude all these types of food in same elimination diet because you will be left with nothing.

      In my case, the low-histamine diet worked by far the best for me and I was probably 80-90% well on that. Next, I will try that same diet but with cutting out alcohol, caffeine and spices, which can definitely make things worse. At the same time, I basically only ate food which could be cooked from fairly raw ingredients. No preservatives, anti-oxidents, food colours, jars, jams, pickles, etc...It was tough, but it gets easier with practice. Eating out can be possible but when I did, I stuck to the same couple of dishes at the same couple of restaurants. So there was an Nepalese restaurant where I ate Biryani and/or Tarka Dhal and Rice, a Thai place I ate a simple spiced fried rice dish, an Italian where steak or fish was great etc...

      Actually, over time, I got to appreciate the healthiness of the diet and losing a couple of pounds a week definitely helped my mood. I do find myself craving a sesame bagel with butter. beer or pizza occasionaly.

      Anyway, I'm due to start the Mycophenoloate Mofetil treatment next month so I'll let you know how that goes. If Cyclosporine is anything to go by, it should work and the side effects should be less so I'm cautiously optimistic on that one. I don't like the idea of having to stay out of the strong sun because of the increased risk of cancer. But I'm fair skinned anyway. And also sun-cream causes me problems so far until I've found one that is ok.

      Lastly, I found a website. They sell a small group of products that are targeted at eczema/psoriasis including more natural soaps, laundry, toothpastes, moisturisers, shampoos and suncream. I'm going to give those products a try this month.

      Emis Moderator comment: I have removed the link(s) directing to site(s) unsuitable for inclusion in the forums. If users want this information please use the Private Message service to request the details.

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    • Posted

      It is nice to see we are not alone bcause its pretty depressing i will look into the benzoates for sure sometimes i have no idea what caused the out of rashes and hivesĀ 
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