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4 Allergies You May Not Realize You Have


Peanuts, eggs, pollen – these common allergens can be easily avoided simply by asking the right questions at restaurants or popping a pill in the morning before you go outside. But what about allergies that aren’t so easily detected? What about the allergies that you don’t even know you have? Here are a few uncommon allergies that you might have that could be causing you some serious discomfort.

1. Sun Allergy

Tanning by the pool is nearly impossible for those who suffer from polymorphous light eruption (PMLE) - an allergy to the sun! “Polymorphous light eruption is a skin condition induced by physical activity outside,” says Dr. Greg Black, allergist at Carolina Allergy and Asthma Consultants. “People who suffer from PMLE tend to get small, flesh-colored, red bumps.”

The eruption normally occurs during the early weeks of summer, but it’s pretty unlikely for episodes to continue throughout the summer. “If it’s something that you’re coming in for over and over again, I’d think that this is not a case of PMLE,” Dr. Black says.

According to Dr. Black, PLME can be easily treated with prednisone (an immunosuppressant drug you can get a prescription for) or by applying a fair amount of sunscreen before going outside. “For college-aged women, I would only recommend using prednisone for less than a week,” he says.

2. Cosmetics Allergy

While you may love your new summery lipstick shade or glittery eye shadows, Dr. Black advises collegiettes to watch how their bodies react to certain cosmetics. “In some facial cosmetics, there are these things called formaldehyde releasers,” he explains. “The chemicals are released onto your skin, which antagonizes the immune system.” After being released, the body interprets these chemicals as allergens, causing a rash or even inflamed skin.

Dr. Black recommends oral prednisone to clear up the outbreak and says that it’s “extremely important to find out which ingredient is causing you grief.” Not everyone reacts to the same ingredients, so visit a specialist for confirmation.

3. Nickel Allergy

“Contact dermatitis to nickel is the most common contact allergy that we’ve experienced,” says Dr. Black. For individuals with this allergy, the body reacts to the combination of nickel particles. Instead of hives, however, a crusting, scaly rash begins to form. “The most common place where you’ll see this is underneath the belly button where the back of your jeans rubs against your abdomen,” Dr. Black explains. Yes, the button on your favorite jeans might be what’s causing the problem!

While the rash can be treated immediately with topical steroids, Dr. Black says that “confirmation of a nickel allergy is key.” Patch testing is the best form of confirmation. While there is no cure for this contact allergy, Dr. Black recommends putting some form of tape over that button on your jeans and investing in nickel-free jewelry.

4. Rye/Oat Allergies

Yes, most collegiettes would get sick after one too many beers, but did you know you can actually be allergic to beer?

“It’s not alcohol that people are reacting to per se,” Dr. Black explains. “It turns out that they’re allergic to rye or oats typically seen in beer.”

According to Dr. Black, you might notice things like hives, itching or nausea after drinking certain beers if you have this allergy. Since there is no cure for food allergies, Dr. Black stresses that “avoidance and education is the only treatment.”


While these allergies are pretty uncommon, they may explain why you’ve been feeling some discomfort on a daily basis. If you think that you have any of these allergies, make an appointment with a doctor or allergist as soon as possible!

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