This time of the year we all look forward to cuddling with the one we love.
But, there could be something standing in the way of that romantic rendezvous: allergies.
Being allergic to love may seem counterintuitive, but according to a recent study published in Allergy and Asthma Proceedings, allergy sufferers reported more problems with sleep and sexual activity than other groups. In fact, 83 percent of people with allergic rhinitis reported that their condition affected sexual activities.
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Think about it: If you can't breathe, your nose is running, and your eyes are itchy, you most likely don’t feel very sexy. Some may also find their allergies affect their level of exercise exertion – whether it’s traditional exercise at the gym or sex.
Here are some traditional Valentine’s Day activities that may lead to an allergic reaction:
Makeup: Who doesn’t want to look their best for that special someone? For those who don’t regularly wear makeup, but plan to on V-Day, keep in mind that many facial cosmetics, lipsticks and eye shadows can contain nut oils and fragrances.
If you’re allergic to nut oils, you could find yourself fighting puffy eyelids or a little bumpy rash on your face. Ladies, be warned: Men can also experience a skin reaction to the facial products you wear .
Dark chocolate and oysters: Many think that dark chocolate and oysters have the most natural aphrodisiacs in them. But many might not realize that shellfish is the number one food for allergies in adults. Many chocolates often contain nuts, another highly allergic food – make sure to ask your waiter about this.
Flowers: The fragrances of roses, star Jasmine, narcissus, gardenia, Lily of the Valley, citrus and eucalyptus trees are the most common plants whose fragrances can make people sneeze. If you’re sensitive, you want to keep away from these plants.
Kissing: Nothing would be more unromantic than breaking out in an allergic reaction when kissing the one you love. Possible allergic reactions to kissing include traces of trigger foods in your partner’s mouth.. If your partner has eaten peanuts even four hours before kissing – and you’re allergic to peanuts – you could be in serious danger.
In fact, allergens can linger in a partner's saliva up to a full day following ingestion, irrespective of tooth brushing or other interventions. Some common allergic outbreaks to kissing include: lip-swelling, throat-swelling, rash, hives, itching and/or wheezing.
Skin contact: If your honey is using a fragrance, cosmetic or even a shaving cream that you’re allergic to, you could be in trouble. Skin allergies include hives, redness or irritation.
Massage oils: Before you decide to spoil your partner with a massage, make sure you buy an allergen-free massage oil. If you buy the wrong kind of oil, you could find your special someone with a rash. Make sure the massage oil you use does not contain any fragrances or nut oils, and you should be good to go.
Sex: Love-making may inadvertently expose a person sensitive to chemicals found in spermicides, lubricants and/or latex condoms. Many couples might utilize a latex condom as a popular contraceptive technique that can provoke a localized or generalized allergic reaction if you are truly sensitive to latex rubber. There are tests available to confirm a hypersensitivity to latex rubber protein. There are also alternative types of condoms that do not contain latex.
There are tips and steps those with allergies can follow to make sure this Valentine’s Day stays amorous, and those pesky allergies don’t get in the way.
Talk to your partner: Intimate contact with individuals who've eaten or consumed suspect foods or medicines can cause problems for those with a significant food allergy. It's always better to play it safe by making sure that everyone knows that in all situations these foods are strictly off-limits.
Make sure your significant other avoids triggers: Partners of people with these types of sensitivities avoid the problematic food or medication altogether for anywhere from 16 to 24 hours before initiating intimate contact. Brushing your teeth and rinsing the mouth prior to contact should also help, although it can't eliminate the risk completely.
Dr. Clifford Bassett is an adult and pediatric allergy specialist, and diplomate of the American Board of Allergy and Immunology. He is the medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY and author of "The New Allergy Solution: Super-Charge Resistance, Slash Medication, Stop Suffering." Bassett is a clinical assistant professor of medicine and on the teaching faculty of NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center, and faculty at Cornell University Medical College. Follow him on Twitter.