According to US scientists, 2 to 3 percent of consumers are living with an allergy to spices, like turmeric, ginger, curry leaf, and cinnamon commonly found in skin, hair care, make-up and fragrances.
The study carried out at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), states that the FDA does not regulate spices, therefore it can be the most difficult allergen to identify or avoid, and remains underdiagnosed, particularly due to the lack of reliable allergy skin or blood tests.
"While spice allergy seems to be rare, with the constantly increasing use of spices in a variety of cosmetics, we anticipate more and more [consumers] will develop this allergy," says allergist Sami Bahna, M.D., ACAAI past president.
"Patients with spice allergy often have to go through extreme measures to avoid the allergen. This can lead to strict dietary avoidance, low quality of life and sometimes malnutrition," he adds.
'Women more likely to develop spice allergy'
In a presentation at ACAAI’s annual scientific meeting, Dr. Bahna, explained that several spice blends contain anywhere from three to 18 spices, and that the hotter the spice, the greater the chance for allergy.
He further highlighted that due to the wide use of spice in cosmetics, women are more likely to develop spice allergy.
The expert concluded by explaining that even someone with an allergy to only one known spice can have a reaction to several spice blends, which can bring on a reaction from merely breathing, eating or touching spices.
Allergy testing methods in cosmetics
Earlier this year, Swedish scientists announced that they had developed a unique cosmetic testing method for allergies, by using cultured skin cells.
“We have made several discoveries about the mechanism behind contact allergy, one of which is that allergenic substances react with keratin 5 and 14 in the skin,” explains Sofia Andersson, from the Department of Chemistry at the university.
Metals such as nickel and substances in perfume and preservatives are among the most common allergenic substances, often in skin lotions and make up.