What Is a Saliva Allergy?
A saliva allergy is a medical condition involving a negative immune system reaction, normally of the skin, that occurs when a person comes in contact with saliva. The problem is most commonly associated with pets and animals, although some people have asserted cases of reactions to human saliva, as well.
Doctors and veterinarians believe that a saliva allergy falls into one of two types. The first type happens when a person's immune system responds to the one or more of the proteins directly within the saliva. A person also may experience a reaction if the saliva contains something else to which the individual is allergic — most cases of human saliva allergy are thought to fall into this category, although much more research is necessary. For instance, if a person eats some peanuts, some peanut residue might still be in the mouth and saliva immediately following consumption and may cause a reaction in someone with a peanut allergy. In this case, the saliva is not truly the problem.
Sometimes a saliva allergy is difficult to pinpoint. For example, if a dog rolls around in the grass and then licks his fur, then allergens in the grass can transfer into the dog's saliva. If the dog licks his owner who is allergic to the specific allergens in the grass, it can appear that the owner is reacting to the saliva when he really is reacting to separate substances. Similarly, if the proteins in a dog's saliva truly are problematic and he licks his fur, the dog's owner might assume that it is the dander in the dog's coat that is the issue. Broadly, anything an animal licks can appear as the source of the reaction.
When a saliva allergy is present, sometimes the only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid the saliva. This is fairly easy to do with a pet — people can find the pet a new home, although this can be emotionally difficult. If the reaction occurs with human saliva, however, the allergy is more of a problem, necessitating at the very least a thorough examination of what a person who causes the reaction is eating and drinking.
Most allergies have a genetic link. This makes it unlikely that a person can get rid of a saliva allergy completely. The ability of the body's immune system to handle the allergen, however, is flexible based on overall health. To make things more complicated, genes can be turned "on" or "off" at certain points, meaning that not everything in the genetic code is always showing up. This explains why a saliva allergy, along with other allergies, may appear or disappear over time.
Saliva allergy is not surprising to me. I have known for a while now that we can become allergic to others' bodily fluids and saliva is one of them. Many women actually experience an allergic reaction to their partner's semen. And some are allergic to their partner's saliva too.
I don't know how saliva allergy is treated but I have heard that semen allergy usually disappears on its own. Continued exposure can desensitize skin and tissues, but there are also cases where the allergy doesn't go away. The good part about semen allergy is that it can be prevented with condoms. But if someone is allergic to a partner's saliva, kissing and other contact has to be avoided altogether.
I read a news article recently about a girl who is allergic to her own saliva. It's apparently very rare but possible. It's basically a faulty immune system response. The allergy has caused painful ulcers in the girl's mouth and she has trouble speaking and eating for this reason. It sounds very scary, I hope she gets better.
I just found out that I'm allergic to my dog's saliva. I started getting a rash on my hands frequently. At first, I thought it was something else, like the hand soap or cream I was using. But I noticed that the rash still developed when I didn't use these things. I also noticed that it develops after I spend time with my dog.
Although my doctor has confirmed the allergy and advised me to give away my dog, I won't do it. I think I can overcome this allergy because I wasn't always allergic to dog saliva. I think I need to improve my immune system.
If I have to, I'll wear fabric gloves when petting my dog or I'll let him stay with my mom for a while. But I'm not going to give him away.
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