Skin reactions to Elastoplast are of the allergic contact dermatitis type - a rash, hives, itching and/or a burning sensation, or intensely itchy little blisters that can weep.
If you react like this to sticking plasters you are probably sensitised to the rosin (or colophony) that is used in the adhesive. It's a natural substance obtained from conifers, created from pine balsam during the making of turpentine. When the turpentine is distilled away, colophony (rosin) is the hard yellow residue left behind.
If you have more time and are interested in what else you might be allergic to then read on.
You may be familiar with rosin in its natural form as used by players of stringed instruments but if you've developed an allergy to Elastoplast you should watch out for the colophony in a wide range of other everyday items. In the European Union all products containing more than 1% colophony have to be labelled with an allergy warning.
Common sources of colophony include:
- chewing gum
- mascara, rouge, soap, eyeshadow, shampoo, lipstick, nail varnish
- medicated creams and ointments
- wart treatment gels
- fabric plasters, zinc oxide plaster on a roll, Micropore tape
- adhesive tapes and fly papers
- glue tackifiers eg on stamps and labels
- paper (glossy paper is worse), magazines
- printing inks
- the sticky sap of Christmas trees
- Leylandii trees and pine forests
- pine sawdust
- pine oil cleaners
- wood polishes
- soldering flux
- rosin for stringed musical instruments
- ‘gripper’ for bowls, weight lifting and sports
- dental cements and impression pastes
- varnishes and glazes
- surface coatings, sealing components
- fan belts and clutches
How to avoid it
- If you have become sensitised to colophony and need to avoid it use only ingredient-labelled products that do not list colophony or any of its synonyms on the label:
Abietic acid, abietic alcohol, abietyl alcohol, abitol, methyl abietate alcohol, Dercolyte ZS, dermatol 18, dertophene 18, foral 105, granolite SG, staybelite 10, Gum rosin, resina terebinthinate, tall oil, W-W wood rosin, hercolyn D.
- If you are allergic to colophony you may also be allergic to turpentine, wood (spruce, pine balsam), wood tar, fragrance and Balsam of Peru.
- Inform your dentist that you are allergic to colophony (rosin).
- Wear gloves when applying products that contain this chemical. Avoid other evergreen trees as well as pine trees unless you have been tested negative.
- If your spouse or significant other uses skincare products that contain colophony skin-to-skin transfer may happen to you.
The good news is that you can now buy Hypoallergenic Washproof Plasters that don't have colophony in the adhesive. Click here.