Why Love Hurts: Add Partner Allergies to the List
But the nose and the heart may not: It is possible, and not necessarily uncommon, to be allergic to your partner.
“I would say about 10 to 20% of the population has allergies to either personal products or home products,” explained Purvi Parikh, MD an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network. That’s right, the $700 or so you ladies spent on Clive Christian No. 1 or the $900 you guys shelled out for Tom Ford’s (censored) Fabulous could be irritating your partner.
Sure, your allergen could be in your beau’s place, like the pet, dust mites in the carpet, or even hidden mold lurking in a dank closet. But these are environmental allergies; you could also have fragrance or grooming-product allergies.
An allergic response happens when the body encounters particles of something that it thinks are a threat. It launches an immune response to that unwelcome invader – pollen, dust, coronavirus — which leaves tell-tale signs of the launch, like a runny nose, puffy face, itchy eyes.
But how do you know you can lay the blame at your partner’s feet? Answer: by playing medical detective and assessing your symptoms. If you develop a tight chest, when during the visit does that happen; same for a rash. Are you sneezing when you walk in the door, or later in the evening?
“If you’re having sneezing, coughing [or] eye irritation, then it’s probably an environmental allergy in the person’s home rather than a product,” said Dr. Parikh.
That said, if love isn’t alone in the air, you’ll probably know quickly. “Some people do have allergies to fragrances, candles, perfumes, [and] air fresheners,” said Dr. Parikh. These are easy to figure out. “You have the strong scent, and then all of a sudden you can get coughing or eye-watering or chest tightness,” she explained.
Sometimes the allergy is a bit closer to home. “You may notice that you’re getting rashes when your skin is coming into contact with [your beau] or if you hug them or if you use their products,” said Dr. Parikh. These are product allergies, and it just means that an ingredient does not agree with you.
True love’s course never runs smoothly
So what’s the fix? Do you have to choose between your sweetheart or your sense of smell? Not at all. One option is to go to a board-certified allergist, like Dr. Parikh, to get professional help narrowing down the culprit.
Those already taking medication for a known allergy might need to step up the fight.
“Some people, we desensitize them, we put them on allergy shots, to cure the allergies over time.” And it is good to get on top of your allergies; Dr. Parikh said they can get worse over time.
Allergies to a partner are not a first-date issue because allergies develop over time. So that perfume or cologne you found so enticing at first could contain the culprit causing your allergic reaction. “Any allergy takes time for it to develop, it’s never the first time you come in contact with something,” explained Dr. Parikh.
And what about the pandemic? All the more reason to figure out what is bothering you. Dr. Parikh told Medical Daily that outdoor allergies have gone down and indoor allergies have gone up. “People are suffering more from their indoor allergens because they’re now spending 24/7 at home,” she said.
Sealed with a kiss
An allergy could stem from intimacy. For instance, there have been cases of one partner with a severe food allergy whose reaction is triggered after kissing the partner who ate the food. Saliva can contain tiny bits of the allergic food, triggering the reaction.
We did say intimate.
“I don’t want to concern people,” said Dr. Parikh, “but it is possible to actually become allergic to your partner’s sperm”. Called seminal plasma hypersensitivity, this allergy is very rare and can be treated. Couples can also use a condom to cut down on the chances of a reaction.
So, this Valentine’s day, hold your partner close. And if you feel more than that tingly feeling, you’ll have a good idea what it is.