A brief note on Allergens

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An allergen is a type of antigen that produces an abnormally vigorous immune response in which the immune system fights off a perceived threat that would otherwise be harmless to the body. Such reactions are called allergies. In technical terms, an allergen is an antigen that is capable of stimulating a type-I hypersensitivity reaction in atopic individuals through immunoglobulin E (IgE) responses.[1] Most humans mount significant Immunoglobulin E responses only as a defense against parasitic infections. However, some individuals may respond to many common environmental antigens. This hereditary predisposition is called atopy. In atopic individuals, non-parasitic antigens stimulate inappropriate IgE production, leading to type I hypersensitivity. Sensitivities vary widely from one person (or from one animal) to another. A very broad range of substances can be allergens to sensitive individuals. Types of allergens Allergens can be found in a variety of sources, such as dust mite excretion, pollen, pet dander, or even royal jelly. Food allergies are not as common as food sensitivity, but some foods such as peanuts (a legume), nuts, seafood and shellfish are the cause of serious allergies in many people. Officially, the United States Food and Drug Administration do recognize eight foods as being common for allergic reactions in a large segment of the sensitive population. These include peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, milk, shellfish, fish, wheat and their derivatives, and soy and their derivatives, as well as sulfites (chemical-based, often found in flavors and colors in foods) at 10ppm and over. See the FDA website for complete details. Other countries, in view of the differences in the genetic profiles of their citizens and different levels of exposure to specific foods due to different dietary habits, the "official" allergen list will change. Canada recognizes all eight of the allergens recognized by the US, and also recognizes sesame seeds, and mustard. The European Union additionally recognizes other gluten-containing cereals as well as celery and lupin. Another allergen is urushiol, a resin produced by poison ivy and poison oak, which causes the skin rash condition known as urushiol-induced contact dermatitis by changing a skin cell's configuration so that it is no longer recognized by the immune system as part of the body. Various trees and wood products such as paper, cardboard, MDF etc. can also cause mild to severe allergy symptoms through touch or inhalation of sawdust such as asthma and skin rash. An allergic reaction can be caused by any form of direct contact with the allergen—consuming food or drink one is sensitive to (ingestion), breathing in pollen, perfume or pet dander (inhalation), or brushing a body part against an allergy-causing plant (direct contact). Other common causes of serious allergy are wasp, fire ant and bee stings, penicillin, and latex. An extremely serious form of an allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. One form of treatment is the administration of sterile epinephrine to the person experiencing anaphylaxis, which suppresses the body's overreaction to the allergen, and allows for the patient to be transported to a medical facility. Journal of Dermatology Research and Skin Care welcomes submissions via online submission system www.scholarscentral.org/submission/dermatology-research-skin-care.html or via email to the Editorial Office at dermatolskin@scholarlymed.com Regards Adrena Cindrella Managing editor Journal of Dermatology Research and Skin Care