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Flare from chemical sensitivity?

Hi all. Hope today is a good day for you.

I am wondering if anyone seems to suffer lupus flares from chemical reactions? Since my diagnosis I have this ridiculous sense of smell and nail polish can send me out of the room but just a few days ago had pest control around my house and although no one else in family could smell it I kept complaining about how strong it was. I was nauseaus and then within a day the fatigue and joint pain of my lupus symptoms hit hard.

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Only wait a few more days and if it's not getting better, see a GP. Sometimes, I get headaches and I am more sensitive to sounds but it doesn't hit me like a full on flare. Lupus is still something they don't have loads of info on, they just know how to treat the symptoms so maybe chemicals could make you feel awful.

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Yes, it can trigger symptoms... I can't take ammonia or anything with ammonia in it. Permanent hair color has ammonia, and the one time I used it my scalp broke out and a lot of hair fell out!

I can however tolerate bleach and hair color with bleach but no ammonia (semi-permanent colors), which makes no sense to me because we think of bleach as being stronger, but apparently my immune system Just doesn't like ammonia but tolerates small amounts of bleach.

Pesticides/herbicides also trigger a really bad reaction. I got hives once just by driving by a farmer's field where he was treating his fields with a big sprayer, and the wind blew in my direction. Every bit of skin that was exposed to it got hives, and the reaction was so bad I needed steroids to calm it back down again. So no pesticides/herbicides get used at my house! I control fleas on my pets by those topical drops that you put a spot onto the dog once a month, since that limits my own exposure and works differently than regular pesticides do.

Nail polish has acetone in it which can be harsh... there are other kinds of non-acetone polish removers (more gentle) you may want to try.

It can be trial and error figuring out what your immune system responds to negatively and what it can tolerate. Not everyone is the same, but lupus is known to be sensitive to certain chemicals like sulfa/sulfur based drugs and chemicals.


I believe it. If the thought of eating a certain food can do it , why not a smell? And bug spray has definite odor.

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My lupus symptoms worsen when I am exposed to solvents, artificial fragrance, pesticides, and a few other chemicals. This was triggered during pregnancy but did not go a water I have birth. I, too, smell these at lower concentrations than other people do. Trust your responses and avoid these. I use only green cleaners, fragrance free products, and color my hair with Surya Brasil Henna Cream color, the only one I could find that is convenient and without noxious chemicals. This helps a great deal. Good luck.


Wow thanks everyone. Thought I was overreacting but feel more confident in it being the bug spray. Guess I am like a dog and have over sensitive sense of smell. Bonus.


Hi Stillsmiling,

Have you spoken to your GP or rheumatologist about this?

Exposure to certain chemicals can have the potential to trigger a flare in lupus, so it is often advised to be cautious when considering any products such nail vanish and dyes.

We published a blog article about managing fatigue which you can read here: lupusuk.org.uk/managing-fat...

We also published an article on our blog about pain management which contains helpful tips and information: lupusuk.org.uk/pain-managem...


No I haven't spoken to him about as I wasn't really sure it was a thing. I usually have a list of things to go through with him and only enough time for half of them. I see him again early January so Ill be sure to mention this time. Thankyou!

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