Chemical Sensitivity

Could I have an allergy to chemicals?

Some people report that they react to chemicals in their environments and that these allergy-like reactions seem to result from exposure to a wide variety of synthetic and natural substances. Such substances can include those found in:

  • Paints
  • Carpeting
  • Plastics
  • Perfumes
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Plants

Although the symptoms may resemble those of allergies, sensitivity to chemicals does not represent a true allergic reaction involving IgE and the release of histamine or other chemicals. Rather than a reaction to an allergen, it is a reaction to a chemical irritant, which may affect people with allergies more than others.

Preventing Chemical Sensitivity

Irritants such as chemicals can worsen airborne allergy symptoms, and you should avoid them as much as possible. For example, if you have pollen allergy, avoid unnecessary exposure to irritants such as insect sprays, tobacco smoke, air pollution, and fresh tar or paint during periods of high pollen levels.

Content Created/Medically Reviewed by our Expert Doctors