Allergy to pine sap

An individual who is allergic to pine pollen can end up with runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing episodes and blocked sinuses during the spring season. As for pine sap allergy, it can flare-up in any time of the year.

It is important to note that the distillation process of eliminating turpentine oil from pine sap leaves behind a firm residue known as colophony. Take note that colophony eventually makes its way to several household, apparel and personal care products. The symptoms of colophony-linked pine sap allergy typically include respiratory distress and skin rashes.

Products that contain pine sap

A number of topical medications and cosmetics contain colophony from pine sap. It is present in nail polish, lipstick, mascara and even eye shadow. Diaper rash creams, blister and hemorrhoid creams as well as wart removers are capable of triggering pine sap allergy along with sunscreens that contain colophony.

First aid ointments, wax depilatories, dental floss and adhesive bandages are products that can also trigger a reaction. In the household, pine sap might be present in the furniture, floor, shoe polishes or vehicles. In addition, tile floors or linoleum are also potential sources. Grease removers and laundry detergent can leave it behind on clothing.

Possible cause

Pine sap allergy

Reddish, itchy inflammation is an early indication of exposure.

Individuals with pine sap allergy have an overly sensitive immune system that quickly reacts to the compounds present in colophony. The immune system releases IgE antibodies into the bloodstream in an attempt to protect the body from these compounds. The histamine antibodies typically affect the digestive and respiratory system as well as the skin. Remember that the histamine itself is responsible for triggering the allergy symptoms.

Allergic contact dermatitis

It is important to note that allergic contact dermatitis usually affect the skin surface within 24-48 hours after exposure to pine sap. Reddish, itchy inflammation is an early indication of exposure. If not treated right away, the reaction can eventually lead to blister formation as well as severe itchiness. In most cases, sensitive skin that has been exposed chronically can become leathery and thick.

Occupational asthma

Individuals who work in factories who inhale colophony fumes from solder might develop asthma. The fumes of pine sap can also affect welders and workers in tire, adhesive and paper industries.

Many individuals who are constantly exposed to fumes eventually develop asthma. This type of asthma is called as occupation asthma with symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, congestion, runny nose and other symptoms of regular asthma. The difference is that it subsides once the individual leave the workplace for more than a day. Prolonged exposure to pine sap while at work can sensitize individuals to ordinary dust, smoke and other asthma triggers.


The management of pine sap allergy involves avoidance of any products that contain colophony. It is recommended to use gloves and protective clothing if these products are being handled.

In most cases, treating current contact dermatitis involves the use of cortisone cream or other topical medications prescribed by the doctor. The use of protective respiratory equipment can limit occupational asthma from exposure to colophony fumes. The only sure way to avoid the condition is to change job.


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