Are you or one of your family members experiencing an allergic reaction to cardboard? Believe it or not, it isn’t as strange as it sounds. With that said, there is some confusion as to what exactly is going on.
The cardboard itself is not causing the reaction, per say, it is actually what the cardboard is covered in. When it comes in contact with your skin, depending on your body’s reaction, can cause an allergic reaction called dermatitis. If you are experiencing that right now, you are not alone.
Allergic to Cardboard?
As terrible dermatitis may sound, it usually isn’t anything to freak out about. Chances are everyone experiences it at some point, especially dandruff which is a type of dermatitis.
But generally speaking, dermatitis is simply some kind of skin irritation. It is not contagious, so you can’t give it to other people, nor can someone with dermatitis give it to you.
What you experience often is flaky skin, redness, itching, and in rare cases blistering. Something you came in contact with is causing blood to be sensitized. In this case, you are thinking of the cardboard, but it is actually what the cardboard is covered in: PTBP.
PTBP, or “P-Tertiary-butylphenol formaldehyde,” is an adhesive resin. When cardboard is being constructed, PTBP is used. This is where the source of the irritation is, not the cardboard itself.
At some point, cardboard with PTBP touched your skin and now you have a rash. And if your body is having a strong reaction to it, all you need to do is rub up against it once and your skin will become inflamed. Imagine if someone is working eight hours with cardboard.
Can it be treated?
Absolutely! You can actually have a patch test done to confirm it is indeed PTBP that is affecting your skin. If it is discovered that you have an allergic reaction to PTBP, a really bad reaction can be treated with antihistamines and corticosteroids.
With that said, if your job requires that you work with cardboard, you definitely need to wear protective gear like long gloves or, better yet, speak with your employer about being positioned somewhere else—especially if your body reacts horribly to it. You can also be prescribed medicinal ointments and so on.
Treating Allergies at Home
It may not be cardboard that is the sole reason you have allergies; your home can be full of allergy landmines that can get a bodily reaction from you.
Not only should you shield yourself from cardboard boxes, or wear protective gear, you should also take the time to proof your home from allergies. However, it is important to note that you can’t completely shield yourself from allergies, but you can at least reduce the amount that floats around your home.
1. Dust your home.
This goes without saying. Dust is notorious for causing allergies. All kinds of materials get lumped into the dust, and then it gets caught in your system. However, before you start dusting, wear a mask. This is to prevent your body from sucking in dust, or alternatively, have someone else dust for you.
Furthermore, trade in drapes and carpets (if they are removable) as these can be centers for the collection of dust. These are also homes to mold, especially if you spilled water or drinks on them recently.
2. Wash articles of clothing and bed dressings with hot water.
Keeping your clothing and bed sheets clean of dust and other tiny particles is key, especially if you are breathing near the fabric. Speaking of which, you should replace your bedding with dust-proof bedding. Do not use plastic covers because tearing is common.
3. Clean your home regularly.
Believe it or not, cockroaches can cause allergic reactions. Having a clean home is one way of keeping them at bay, but so is removing cardboard, newspapers, grocery bags, empty bottles, and other paper-like materials out of your home; they like that kind of material. It goes without saying, seal any opened containers as well.
4. Don’t bother going outside when there’s pollen everywhere.
The news is one of the best sources for current pollen count in your area, so always keeps tabs on that. Avoid going out if it is too high, that is if you are really allergic to pollen. If not, then by all means go out and enjoy the day.
On really hot days, an air conditioner is going to be your best friend. It will keep your house cool without you resorting to windows. However, you should be cleaning the filter every month. Do not skimp on cleaning the filter; it is what keeps the pollen in your house low.
In conclusion, it is not necessarily the cardboard that is causing an allergic reaction, it is PTBP. Such a substance is commonly used in the construction of boxes and coming in contact with it, even briefly, can cause contact dermatitis—that is, if your body is very allergic to it. Contact your doctor to have a patch test done to confirm this is the issue, wear protective gear in the workplace, and allergy-proof your home.