Allergic To Valentine’s Day

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heartshinyDr. Clifford Bassett of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York ( warns that Valentine’s Day allergies are on the rise and notes definitive increase in patient volume (including pediatric) the week of Valentine’s Day. Due to a critical mass of requested consultations the NYC allergist will be extending office hours for the week following Valentine’s Day.

Bassett warns, “Valentine’s Day comes with allergy triggers including latex, flowers, perfume, candy, food, stress, and more. The most common allergic conditions I treat in adult patients include food, indoor, and skin allergies.”

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology states that worldwide, sensitization rates to one or more common allergens among school children are on the rise. Basset states, “I see a spike in pediatric patients Valentine’s Day week with nut allergies – which tends to be an ingredient in many Valentine’s Day candies.”

The most common food allergies which are prevalent during Valentine’s Day prompting visits to the doctor or ER include: nuts (that are often hidden ingredients in sweets and desserts) and shellfish.” Chocolate and oysters are commonly consumed on Valentine’s Day due to the myth that they are natural aphrodisiacs. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “Shellfish is among the most common food allergens.” Many chocolates often contain nuts, another highly allergic food.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, 37.8 percent of Americans purchased flowers for Valentine’s Day in 2015. Allergy inducing flowers include: daises, dahlias, asters, sunflowers, gerbera, lilac, baby’s breath and gardenia. Non allergenic flower choices for Valentine’s Day include: unscented orchids, roses, bird of paradise, tulip, snapdragon, mum, petunia, freesia, peony crocus, daffodil, gladiola and iris.

“Kissing on Valentine’s Day can also trigger an allergy attack,” cautions Bassett. Possible allergic reactions to kissing include traces of trigger foods in their partner’s mouth. If their partner has eaten peanuts even four hours before kissing one can be in serious danger (if one is allergic to peanuts). In fact, allergens can linger in their partner’s saliva following ingestion, irrespective of tooth brushing or other interventions. Some common allergic outbreaks to kissing include: lip-swelling, throat-swelling, rash, hives, itching and/or wheezing.

girlFor women who don’t regularly wear makeup, but do so on Valentine’s Day it is important to understand that many facial cosmetics and moisturizers may contain hidden allergens and skin irritants. “Men frequently experience a skin reaction to the facial products that women wear making them literally allergic to some women”, stated Bassett.

About Dr. Clifford Bassett

– Dr. Clifford Bassett is an adult and pediatric allergy specialist in NYC with locations on the Upper East Side, Financial District, Gramercy, and Midtown East. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and on the teaching faculty of NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center, and Faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College.