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What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Adhesive?

By C.B. Fox
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The symptoms of an allergic reaction to adhesive are the same as the symptoms of any allergic reaction caused by direct contact with any substance that a person is allergic to. Itchiness, redness, and swelling of the area that the adhesive touched are some of the most common mild symptoms. More serious allergic reactions can include hives all over the body or a persistent rash that does not improve with treatment. Occasionally, a bad reaction to adhesive can cause anaphylaxis, which requires immediate medical treatment. True allergic reactions to adhesives are rare, whereas irritations caused by exposure or overexposure to adhesives are more common.

A person who has an allergic reaction to adhesive will most often show symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis. This condition is not usually considered serious and can usually be treated at home with over-the-counter medications. The symptoms of allergic contact dermatitis are usually confined to the area that the adhesive came into direct contact with. These symptoms include itchiness, redness, soreness, mild swelling, and the presence of hives or rash. In some cases, the rash may leak the fluid that is created when the body attempts to attack the allergen.

A more serious allergic reaction to adhesive can spread beyond the area that came into contact with the adhesive. These reactions may require prescription medication to treat. The symptoms are the same as normal allergic contact dermatitis but can be seen all over the body. If swelling spreads to the face, neck or inside of the mouth, patients should seek medical attention so that breathing does not become obstructed.

An extremely serious allergic reaction can occur as a result of contact with any allergen, including adhesive. These reactions can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, changes in the heartbeat and blood pressure and loss of consciousness. Doctors treat these serious reactions in a hospital with a variety of different medications.

Though it is possible to develop an allergic reaction to adhesive or any other substance, true allergies to these types of irritants are extremely rare. Irritant contact dermatitis, a non-allergic reaction to an irritant such as an adhesive, is much more common and sometimes produces symptoms similar to an allergic reaction. An irritant response can include rash, itchiness, and mild swelling and can also cause excessive drying or scaling of the skin. These symptoms are usually localized to the area that came into direct contact with the adhesive.

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