Medicines to avoid if you have a peanut allergy
8th June 2020
Those who suffer from allergies will know how much it can feel as though it takes over your life. Those with a gluten allergy will notice it appearing in a surprisingly large number of foods, while those with pollen allergies (also known as hay fever) will sometimes feel like they can’t go outside. And while many people assume that having a peanut allergy is only restrictive when it comes to food shopping, it can also stretch to the world of medicines.
Medicines containing peanut
As well as the active ingredient that works to treat the ailment or problem, medicines contain a whole host of other ingredients, sugars and coatings, which can often include allergens like lactose, peanut oil, wheat and soya.
If you have an intolerance or allergy then you should carefully check the patient information leaflet to make sure that what you’re taking is suitable, but here are just a few common medicines which may contain peanut oil.
Some types of the contraceptive pill
One of the great things about the contraceptive pill is that there are so many different kinds available that you’re likely to find one that suits your body and needs. However, if you have a peanut allergy then you should avoid Desogestrel.
Desogestrel is a progestogen-only pill (or “mini pill”) which means that it doesn’t contain oestrogen. However, it does contain soybean oil and it is unsuitable for those with peanut allergies. Brand name versions of Desogestrel include Cerazette and Cerelle but it’s important to ask your doctor if you’re unsure.
Over the counter ear drops
Somewhere that it’s especially important to be vigilant is not only with prescription medication (like you might expect) but with over-the-counter medicines and products. Prescription medicines require a doctor or other prescriber to issue the medication, which means that they, and the pharmacist, can offer guidance and flag any safety concerns.
When using something over-the-counter, you’re free to buy it without a medical professional, so it’s down to you to make sure you’re using it correctly.
Ear drops are available to soften any build-up of earwax and most of these use an oil base to do so. Ceramol uses peanut oil, so although you’re not ingesting it in the normal way, you should still be careful about what you’re putting into your body.
Some eczema creams
There has been a lot of research into the link between eczema and peanut allergies and while nothing conclusive has been drawn, it’s thought that one may trigger the other. So if you do have eczema and are looking for an effective treatment, then keep this factor in mind.
Dermovate may contain some Arachis oil and therefore has a risk of causing an allergic reaction, so you may wish to try other options.
What is a peanut allergy?
Most people refer to a “nut allergy” but most people suffer more specifically (eg, they have an allergy to peanuts). This doesn’t necessarily mean they’re also allergic to walnuts and almonds, but it is possible to suffer more than one allergy.
If you do have an allergy to peanuts then the proteins in then can cause symptoms such as itching or tingling in the mouth and throat, hives or itchy skin. Some people experience mild symptoms but if the allergy is severe then you may experience anaphylaxis (swelling of the tongue and/or throat that can lead to difficulty breathing).
What to do if you have an allergic reaction?
If you have an identified peanut allergy then it’s likely you’ll be very careful when it comes to avoiding them. However, you may not realise it’s in some medicines you take or you may not check a food label.
The ingredient in medicines is normally in the form of peanut oil, which is refined and contains fewer proteins. So in theory, it shouldn’t cause a severe reaction. However, allergies can be unpredictable and it’s important that you’re prepared.
Those with allergies should keep an EpiPen on them at all times, which is a life-saving device used to treat anaphylaxis. By injecting a single dose of adrenaline as quickly as possible after symptoms appear, you can reduce swelling and open your airways to maintain heart functions and blood pressure levels until you can receive full treatment. If you do experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, you should go to your nearest A&E department to receive emergency treatment.