PG and skin: Hello - I am on a journey... - Allergic to Glycols

Allergic to Glycols

PG and skin


Hello - I am on a journey to figure out my son's sensitivity to Propylene Glycol. I know I've only discovered the tip of the iceberg. Hoping to find more information here and through others.

Our first big clue was the car - whenever we would go on long road trips my son's legs (thighs) would break out in huge red welts, hot to the touch, itchy. It was so bizarre how it only happened on long road trips and mostly in my husband's car. In desperation I googled, "can you be allergic to leather car seats?" I assumed this was a ridiculous thing to ask, but it turns out there are lots of people allergic to leather car seats, leather steering wheels, etc. Apparently Propylene Glycol is used as a leather conditioner! Clue number two: my son had the flu and low grade fever for almost five days. I gave him Tylenol every five hours for the entire time. His face turned red, dry, flaking off. Especially around his eyes and forehead. He looked like a burn victim. I later discovered that each Tylenol pill is coated in propylene glycol. Clue number three: he loves the salad dressing from a local restaurant. I bought a container of it from the restaurant - they put it in a big plastic container, no label. My son ate a salad nearly every night for dinner the following week. Once again, his face turned red, dry, flaking around his eyes and eye lids. Forehead bright red and splotchy. No amount of lotion would soften his skin. It took me a while to figure out what it could be (duh!) - I called the restaurant and had the read the label to me - you guessed it - propylene glycol. NEW clue: my son has been taking a new Rx for about 90 days. At first his skin just didn't seems as "healthy" so I called the pharmacist to confirm there was no propolyene glycol (there is not). But his face just kept getting worse and worse - red, inflamed, around the eyes and forehead - all the telltale signs. I finally played detective and found the list of inactive ingredients for the Rx - it has POLYETHYLENE GLYCOL! This is news to me - I didn't know propolyne glycol and polyethylene glycol are similar? Cause similar reactions? Now I'm desperately searching for an alternative medicine that doesn't have any kind of glycol in it and running into a lot of dead ends.

On a related note - my son had terrible eczema for years. After working with a naturopathic doctor and doing an elimination diet we discovered that dairy, corn, and gluten triggered his eczema. He's on a super restrictive diet, but the eczema is GONE. (Miraculous, night and day difference). Note all food allergy testing says he's allergic to NOTHING. But he clearly has sensitivities. I'm starting ton wonder - is he sensitive to the actual food groups? Or are there glycols in these food groups? I think dairy has sugar? Corn has sugar? Isn't glycols a form a sugar? Just trying to better understand this whole Glycol sensitivity thing.

Questions: 1) Does anyone else experience the skin/red face reactions to ingested glycols? 2) If I an find an alternative medicine that is glycol free, how long does it take for his body to rid itself of the whatever the bad stuff is and recover? 3) Is there any truth to my idea that it's not the food itself that's causing eczema, but some type of sugar reaction?

Thank you! Laurie

17 Replies

Hi Laurie,

Sorry to read about your son, and glad to see your just beginning to discover glycol. In my husband's case PEG was the reason for his anaphylaxis reaction to a closure device used to seal an arty after his heart cath. It's been a crazy road for us since October. To walk into a store and realize there is nothing I can buy. In our journey he was patch tested for 110 natural and synthetic chemicals, dyes and metals. The only place to go in Ohio was OSU Wexiner Medical Center. Our life got crazier once he was diagnosed to being allergic to just about everything. To answer your question #2 his doctor said it would take 8 month to a year if he simply avoids everything he allergic to. The problem he faces is that he can have an immediate reaction or 3 days later. His reaction are from skin rashes to hospitalized asthma with uncontrolled high blood pressure(3 Times this year). He must always carry an epipen. What's funny is that Gluten isn't his problem. I read recently that Sea Salt also has it. I haven't read anything on sugar having it, I know that could be a candida problem. Have your tried to use Coconut Oil? That helps my husband when his rashes turn to welts and blister.

May God guide you and give you peace,



Thanks for sharing your experiences. Every piece of information I gather is helpful.

Sorry to hear about your son's allergies.I'm allergic to propylene glycol and PEG (macrogol) and polysorbate is linked to them so avoid that too. Have you looked at the Life without polyethylene glycol and its friends website? Amber has lists of all the synonyms there. Where I live PEG and PG are not declarable excipients so therefore don't have to be listed on labels of non prescription items so the only way to be sure to avoid them is to contact the organisation that oversees the therapeutic goods industry where you live and ask them to check. I've had reactions to 3 over the counter mediations where even the drug companies themselves didn't know their product contained these ingredients as they are "proprietary ingredients", this of course might not be the case where you live. I have reacted to certain foods as PEG, PG and polysorbate can all be added, particularly these foods - sauces, ice cream, some spreads , some chocolate, coconut milk, shop baked products (even bread) , with emulsifiers 471 and 476(polyglycerol of interesterified ribonucleic acid!!) seem to affect me but I cannot prove that that they're linked to PEG or PG but suspect they are from the similar reactions.I also try to eat organic fruit and vegetable as where I live PEG and PG are sometimes sprayed on plants with the insecticide to help it stick. My health has improved dramatically by avoiding these processed foods and eating organic as much as possible. It might be worth your son trying to avid these foods for a while. Good luck!

Polysorbate is news to me - hadn't thought to look on labels for that. Every time I'm at the grocery store I think about how I should buy organic, but then I see the price tag that is twice as much I end up skipping it. He eats a lot of strawberries and spinach leaves - I know strawberries are on the "deadly dozen" list to buy organic. Ugh. Guess I need to re-think that decision. He also eats coconut milk ice-cream - will have to recheck that label, not sure if it will be listed or not. Thanks for sharing!

Yes , organic is expensive. Maybe buy organic strawberries and spinach and wash and peel non-organic fruit and veg ? The Danish doctors who wrote the article "Immediate type hypersensivity to polyethylene glycols - a review" (though I'm not sure its in that article) and one of the allergists I've spoken to said polysorbate is a PEG derivative

Where can I read this article? Can you provide a link? Thanks!

I'm sure it'll come up if you Google the title, the link is also on the "Life without polyethylene glycol and its friends", go to the "Show your doctor this section" and the information is there for the link, its in the Wiley online library. good luck!

Congratulations on your reaching out for answers and open-mindedness in consulting a naturopath to help your son and find the root cause of dysfunction in the body! It's my understanding that you become allergic to something when your body can't properly detox it. After working for several years with my Nutrition Response Testing (NRT) practitioner (who uses muscle testing for diagnosis), my allergic contact dermatitis is incredibly improved (because of knowledge and avoidance) and I no longer react strongly to INCIDENTAL exposures to PG/PEG. My NRT has given me minerals, vitamins and herbs which have healed my Leaky Gut (intestinal permeability) and supported my organs and detox pathways so my immune system is much, much stronger now. OCCASIONALLY my skin will break out in a few spots and I use a compounded hydrocortisone ointment (without a wetting agent) to clear it up. As far as your son's diet is concerned, this is what I have learned: Sensitivity to dairy casein is probable for a number of reasons. DAIRY is high in estrogen which blocks folate receptors which means we can't complete the methylation cycles which aid in detox. It can also block the absorption of minerals needed by the body. Dairy is also suspect because of how PG is used with cows. It is sprayed on cows to make them lactate. Farmers treat their cows with antibiotics and hormones containing glycols. PG is also used to treat their ketosis. In addition, it can be put in cow's feed to prevent it from freezing. CORN is a genetically modified crop (GMO). It has been genetically engineered to withstand direct application of glyphosate (which is the main ingredient in RoundUp). Glyphosate, which was originally used to clean industrial boilers and pipes, is now used on our wheat crops RIGHT BEFORE HARVEST to dry it out!! Glyphosate is toxic and is known to contribute to much of our digestive issues, especially Leaky Gut. As far as SUGAR is concerned, besides being highly inflammatory for the body, PEG is used in the processing of sugar beets (and hence its byproduct molasses). With cane sugar, some farmers also use ROUNDUP on their crop RIGHT BEFORE HARVEST as a desiccant. Because PG/PEG are petroleum sugar alcohols, I also avoid ALL sugar alcohols like mannitol and sorbitol . As a result of my research, I ALWAYS avoid GMO crops; buy organic when possible: and eat limited amounts of gluten, sugar and dairy. Unfortunately, our food supply is not healthy for anyone anymore, much less people with glycol allergies. If you (or anyone) are interested in the paper I wrote about PG/PEG, e-mail me at Please write "PG Paper" in the RE: area.

Kerry, your paper and advice helped me so much last year. I stick to what you've described above and avoid food additives and processed foods, particularly things with emulsifiers. My irritable bowel/ leaky gut is gone, I'm back to normal as long as I avoid anything with PEG or PG and processed foods .It's easier said than done, I've had a few reactions to foods when I've eaten out.

Thank you again for sharing all your knowledge!

kerrykuzak in reply to Debduck

It's so wonderful to hear you're doing well, Debbie. Congratulations on your strong self-control and determination!!

How do you know what has emulsifiers? Is it listed as a particular ingredient? I know ice-cream has been mentioned as having emulsifiers. I buy So Delicious (dairy free) coconut ice-cream. Would this have emulsifiers in it like traditional milk-based ice-cream?

Emulsifiers should USUALLY be listed on food product labels. In the case of ice cream, however, because it is used universally in the ice cream making business (except organic), PG is the emulsifier most commonly used and does NOT have to be on the label. Emulsifiers help to dissolve/disperse/smooth out products and are found where water and oils are being combined (such as mayonnaise, ice cream, homogenized milk, sour cream etc.) Common emulsifiers are mono and di glycerides, soy lecithin, polysorbate, egg yolks, sorbitan monostearate, carrageean, guar gum, and the one we want to avoid: PGE (PolyGlycerol Ester). Synthetic emulsifiers used in processed food are messing with everyone's good gut bacteria. There is an ingredient in So Delicious coconut dessert I can't have (can't remember what it is--maybe Natural Flavors?). Anyway, I buy "Luna and Larry's" frozen coconut dessert and am okay with it except, like all frozen treats, it has a lot of sugar. Luna and Larry's is ORGANIC--that's the key word for avoiding PG (labeled or unlabeled).

Debduck in reply to kerrykuzak

Hi Kerry

I've had repeated reactions to a ginger and a garlic paste containing E412 guar gum and 415 xanthem gum,there was nothing else listed as being in these pastes, do you know if PEG or PG is used in the preparation of xanthem or guar gum? I only use fresh ginger and garlic now. Thanks again

kerrykuzak in reply to Debduck

Hi Debbie! I do know that that certain non-organic spices can be sterilized with ethylene oxide. McCormack company says they sterilize with steam. Garlic paste is highly processed. I believe a lot of times they use citric acid. My body HATES citric acid. They make it by feeding sugar to a black mold. The mold is processed with PG. In fact, PG is paired with lots of emulsifiers, even the "natural" kind. In some instances, it may be considered as "incidental" in that PG alginate is used as a surfactant (to recuse the surface tension of air/water surfaces). This is my understanding of the making of the natural gums: Xantham gum is made into a solid by isopropyl alcohol and is used as a plant based alternative to gluten. It's basically a sugar derived from either corn, soy or wheat---all either GMO crops or otherwise heavily dosed with GLYPHOSATE the toxic ingredient in RoundUp. The fermentation process (where sugar and bacteria are combined) is very hard on the intestines (many people experience bloating/gas/diarrhea). The guar bean is also highly processed and is cleaned with alcohol or another agent (PG?) to prevent bacteria. It is another gum that should be limited because it is potentially dangerous by contributing to chronic, low-level inflammation that promotes changes in cells in the G.I. tract (colon). It's my understanding that there are studies being done to determine if it contributes to growth of harmful bacteria like e.coli and reduces beneficial gut microbes. Using fresh ingredients and making your own baked goods is ALWAYS better.

Debduck in reply to kerrykuzak

Thanks Kerry, the pairing of PG with emulsifiers would explain my gut reactions! I haven't used the garlic and ginger pastes for a couple of years but have been tempted to buy supposedly "healthy" and "organic" muesli bars occasionally that have guar gum or xanthan gum in them but haven't succumbed. I went to an integrative GP last year and did the gut microbe test and have been taking probiotics recommended by her and adjusting my diet. Thanks again!

Where I live emulsifiers are on the label but they are in so much- most shop baked products,biscuits, sauces, chocolates, ready roll pastries etc etc I especially avoid any food additives in the E 400 range which includes some thickeners and stabilisers which set off unpleasant gut symptoms . I can't say that I can prove there's PEG or PG in them but given the similar reaction I have with them I suspect they do contain PEG or PG. Reading Kerry's reply makes sense.

kerrykuzak in reply to Debduck

Yes, it's sometimes hard to know DIRECT connections, but we always can tell how something makes our bodies feel/react. It's my belief that because we have a chemical allergy, it is indicative that our gut microbiome is also unbalanced. Eating fresh vegetables, fruits and grass-fed meat is essential when trying to rebuild the gut bacteria.

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