I just found out I have an isothiazolinone sensitivity. What do I do now?
All of this information about chemicals and exposure routes can sound scary, but there are steps you can take right away to reduce your exposure and start to relieve your symptoms.
First think about the items and places you contact most often. Stop touching your face and eyes, even if they itch, and wash your hands in water frequently. Think about where on your body you are experiencing symptoms, and what you’ve recently done or where you are when you feel symptoms. From this you can start to figure out your main exposure routes. Use the list of products that are known to possibly contain isothiazolinones to help you. If you haven’t seen one yet, get a referral to an allergist.
Do what you can to eliminate the worst exposure routes first. If it’s something in your home, it’s likely that everyone in your household will have to make a change, such as changing hand soaps, changing laundry detergent, or washing dishes in new soap. If it’s something at work, maybe you can bring your own items to compensate, or if it’s a specific airborne exposure, maybe you can have your desk moved or request a change in cleaning products. Consider using a saline sinus rinse to help keep your nose and sinuses clear of inhaled isothiazolinones.
At the same time, start trying to treat your symptoms. Reducing inflammation from your reaction will reduce your body’s response to the exposure routes you haven’t blocked off yet. Consider eye drops, medicated lotions, and moisturizing creams, making sure not to use any that contain isothiazolinones.
Once you’re starting to get some relief, look into other exposure methods and work on removing them. The more you can remove, the more comfortable your life will be and the easier it will be to heal.
Remember that full relief may not come until 6-8 weeks after your last exposure. Your body likely has a lot of inflammation going on, and its defenses are on overdrive fighting what it feels is a danger to it. In order to get that alarm shut off and get your body back to normal, you’ll need to get all exposure to a minimum, or remove it entirely, though that’s likely impossible, given the nature of the chemicals involved.