Glue Allergies

Electric hot glue gun
Electronic hot glue gun (Image: arkady2013/iStock/Getty Images)

Whether using glue for a craft, woodworking project or other pursuit, it is possible to experience an allergic reaction to the chemicals contained within glue. Some industrial glues, such as epoxy resins, contain strong chemicals that can potentially be irritating to your skin and eyes. Recognizing the potential symptoms of a glue allergy can help you understand which glue types to avoid in the future.

Significance

An allergy is a chemical reaction in your body that is triggered when your body is tricked into thinking a substance is a foreign invader. An allergic reaction is similar to the body’s immune response to a bacterium. If you are allergic to glues, accidental inhalation or skin contact with glues such as epoxy resin can initiate your body’s inflammatory response, such as redness and swelling. Because the reaction can sometimes be delayed, it is important to understand the symptoms associated with glue allergies and recognize them if they do occur.

Symptoms

If you are allergic to glue, the first symptoms will typically be associated with changes to your skin such as redness, swelling or itching. This occurrence is known as contact dermatitis and is one of the chief reactions associated with glue allergies. Other symptoms can include itchy or watery eyes, skin flushing and wheezing. While severe reactions may occur immediately, milder reactions may take minutes to hours to develop, depending on how long the glue remains on your skin.

Treatment

Allergic reactions to glue can typically be treated by washing the skin with soap and water to remove any remnants of glue from your skin. If you have used a particularly strong glue, you may require a solvent, such as acetone or alcohol, to remove the remaining parts of the glue. However, these solvents can have unwanted effects such as skin dryness and irritation. Once the glue has been removed, you can apply a soothing skin cream such as a topical corticosteroid, an antibacterial cream or a skin-soothing lotion.

Warning

In some instances, glues can cause severe reactions. If you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing or skin swelling that affects your range of motion, seek immediate medical treatment. This can indicate you are highly sensitive to glues such as epoxy resin. Discuss lifestyle modifications with your physician, as this resin and other glues can be present in tooth fillings, vinyl handbags, gloves and jewelry.

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