The European lifestyle allergy

Do you have an allergy? If we take a look at the latest statistics, I guess that either you or someone in your family is most likely to have an allergy. If you think about it, I am sure that you know someone with an allergy to food, house dust mites, pets or someone who is affected by pollen in the summer time. When it comes to allergy it is almost as if it has become the new black – I have chosen to call it the lifestyle allergy. It seems that a modern life style equals allergy.

The strange thing is that for most of the allergies we do not know why we can see an increase in the numbers. But there are ideas. One is the hygiene hypothesis. The hypothesis claims that we need to be exposed to dirt, dust, bacteria and infections in our early childhood in order to keep being healthy. The cleaner and less exposed we are the bigger a risk of getting an allergy.

This hypothesis seems to fit perfect with the fact that it is in the richer and more industrialized countries that people get allergy. Nowadays we have a totally different lifestyle than we used to. Most of us live in cities. We get fewer children and the children that we get have their own room, and thus we get less exposed to bacteria and infections than when we lived together on less square meters. And then there is the daily cleaning leaving not much dust or bacteria for our children to get exposed to. Not to mention all the cosmetics and skincare products that we use every day and from a very early age.

In a newly published big survey Europeans were asked if they had ever had an allergy. Our Nordic neighbour Sweden came in as the country with most cases of allergy, after them came The Netherlands and then Denmark on a third place. Belgium is number four.

The statistics are depressing since allergy can have a big influence on our daily life and the quality of our life. Several studies show that people with allergy are affected and have a lower quality of life. This count for both men and women, who are affect by pollen in the summer or have eczema. Studies show that men draw themselves away from their family because of the eczema. They think it is contagious (which it is not) not to mention all those who are disrupted in sleep because the itching from the eczema and the need to blow their nose all the time.

But I do have one good news for you. There is one kind of allergy that we do know a lot about – that is Contact dermatitis or skin allergy. Contact dermatitis is also increasing and it is often perfume or allergenic preservatives that cause the allergy. The reason is the increased tendency to use more and more skin products and often products with perfume.

A new and rather disturbing Danish study shows that even small children are getting skin allergy. The disturbing part is that we normally expect skin allergy to develop over a long period of time.

Luckily it is possible to prevent skin allergy:
choose products without perfume, buy product with an allergy label such as AllergyCertified.
And if you want to use perfume avoid skin contact and instead spray it on your clothes.