Nut butter hand cream: dangerous?
June 2, 2012 10:35 AM   Subscribe

Is a hand cream with nut butters in it dangerous to other people with nut allergies once I put it on my hands?

I just bought a hand cream (this one, if you're interested). The woman at the store asked me if I had any nut allergies before she let me try it out. I don't have any nut allergies, but after I bought the cream and got home, I started thinking about possible problems for other people I come in contact with.

I don't generally touch strangers very much, but I do the normal hand shaking and randomly come in contact with people on the train, street, etc.. Would it be dangerous to someone with a nut allergy if I were to touch them, say, 5 or 10 minutes after putting this stuff on my hands? I don't want to kill anyone.

I suppose I'll contact Lush too, since they make the stuff, but I wanted to see if anyone unaffiliated with them had any experience with this sort of thing.
posted by hapticactionnetwork to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Yes. Even the whiff of peanuts can cause all kinds of problems for folks with nut allergies. I've been on planes where they won't serve peanuts to certain rows due to intense nut allergies.

Of course what are the odds that you'll interact with someone with an allergy of that intensity? Not high, but they're out there. I think they should wear a shirt of warning or something.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:38 AM on June 2, 2012

My nut allergies aren't as severe as some people's, so I can't personally speak to the worst that could happen. But for me the smell of nutty lotions just bugs the ever living fuck out of me. It doesn't actually do anything to me, just having to smell it is...argh. It's different from my typical reaction to a scent I'm simply not fond of, it's a horrible, must-escape-now feeling. It probably wouldn't be quite as bad if the lotion was on someone else - the really awful thing is when they use lotion like that at a nail salon and you can't quite wash it off yourself. Bleurgh. Anyway, my take is that it might make someone who has to smell it uncomfortable.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 10:49 AM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

This reminds me of the week I was getting allergy testing done, and on the way to each appointment, I happened to be eating at a fast-food place that cooks its fries in peanut oil. I always made sure to wash my hands before heading to the appointment, 'cause it seemed like walking into a dermatology building with peanut oil on my hands was one of the most inconsiderate things I could do. Just a data point, but I don't think this lotion is a good idea if you're frequently in contact with people in public, etc.
posted by limeonaire at 10:54 AM on June 2, 2012

It's possible, yes. When my daughter was smaller, she would routinely get Mystery Hives from touching... something... that had invisible traces of nuts left on it. There was also a terrible incident at a diner involving opened crayons from a bucket. Presumably a child who had eaten a peanut butter sandwich and left invisible traces of peanut butter on the crayon after. Thankfully her tolerance has improved a lot as she's grown older.

Re: Not serving rows on a plane peanuts; yeah, sadly, that's not enough for very sensitive people. All that peanut dust in the air, and the peanut residue in the upholstery... our daughter's worst reaction ever was on a Delta flight to Disney World where they gave us a "safety zone" like that. We simply won't fly Delta anymore, sticking to airlines where they just don't serve nuts routinely.

I live in terror of my child being licked by a dog who's recently been fed a peanut butter treat.
posted by Andrhia at 10:56 AM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's entirely possible that this would cause a reaction. One of my recent peanut reactions was at work--we were signing a going away card, and one of the women was going around with the card and a pen. I took them and signed it, and ten minutes later had hives all up my arm. Turned out that she'd been eating peanuts at her desk before going around with the card, and she hadn't washed her hand. The residue on the pen and card was enough to trigger a reaction for me. Not anaphylactic (that time), thankfully, but bad enough that I spent the rest of the day useless and doped up on Benadryl.

Thank you for thinking of this!
posted by MeghanC at 11:42 AM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Looks like this product has almond and cashew butter, not peanuts, correct? Some people with peanut allergies can tolerate tree nuts, and vice versa. Some are allergic to both. I'm sure Lush could tell you if it's made in a facility that also processes peanuts.

But if you are using a moderate amount and massaging it in to your hands, it will probably absorb well, since Lush products are usually good quality and not a ton of sticky fillers, as cheapo products tend to be.
posted by lily_bart at 11:43 AM on June 2, 2012

At uni. while young and dumb, I sent a nut-allergic boyfriend to hospital after having sex while recently moisturised with a lotion including small amounts of nut butter. It's worth being really careful.
posted by pickingupsticks at 3:43 PM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you use it on your hands at night before you go to bed and then wash them well with soap in the morning? Nut residue does wash off with soap and water if you wash well (but just as a PSA, gel hand sanitizer does NOT remove it well; nut residue is sticky and you need the soap to break up the oils and the mechanical action of running water to make sure it gets off your skin). If you're worried about getting it on your bed sheets you could use those lotion gloves that are supposed to help your hands absorb the moisture.

My son who is allergic to peanuts has definitely had contact reactions from being touched by other kids who had peanut residue on their hands, or from touching things that had peanut residue left on them. Once an after-school group left ground-in crumbs from peanut butter cookies on his school library carpet, and he got a four inch welt on his face from laying down on the rug for a few minutes after it had been vacuumed. And he did get hives once from being licked by a dog who had eaten a peanut butter treat (Andhria's anxiety is not misplaced).

I do not know if it is as common for people with tree nut allergies to have contact reactions, though. You'd probably want to ask a person with tree nut allergies about that; hopefully more will chime in. I do sometimes use a hair conditioner that contains almond oil and as far as I know it has never caused anyone trouble. But my son is not allergic to almonds. I absolutely wouldn't use a cosmetic product that contained peanuts in my house (in fact, nothing that contains peanuts is allowed to enter my house).

And I would probably want to be a little more cautious about something I was putting on my hands than something for my hair.
posted by BlueJae at 4:19 PM on June 2, 2012

Oh, and I should add: it is SO NICE OF YOU to think about this. So many people don't. My son's life would be so much easier if everyone were as considerate about allergies as you are.
posted by BlueJae at 4:23 PM on June 2, 2012 [5 favorites]

My very tree-nut allergic husband had a (minor, just hives) reaction after we touched about an hour after I put this stuff (first ingredient: Almond oil) on my hands. I love it so I sometimes will use it right when I get to work in the morning so by the time I see him again it's not an issue.
posted by brainmouse at 6:14 PM on June 2, 2012

As a nut/peanut/soy allergic person, thanks for thinking about this.

In my personal experience, I've never yet reacted to something like this. From my general experience with allergens, I would get a rash and possibly feel off for a while if I shook your hand and the product had low quantities of peanut protein. If exposed for longer, I could also have mild to moderate gastrointestinal distress for a few hours. For nuts or soy, I may or may not have relatively minor itching. Greater concentrations of protein would be more likely to cause problems.

Oils and fats refined from nuts tend to have low levels of protein, but for some reason several industries see soy protein as a wonderful thing so that is another potential issue.

My sister, who is allergic to macadamias, used Cetaphil (a macadamia-based cream) for years, before it started to bother her and make her break out.
posted by Earl the Polliwog at 8:42 PM on June 2, 2012

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