In today’s article from The TechSeer, we are answering a fun question, that sounds somewhat strange but curious. Can a human be allergic to another human?
After all, humans can be allergic to animals, plants, foods, and dust. Heck, just about everything is an allergen to someone. But when you start having itchy skin after kissing your girlfriend, you start to wonder, am I allergic to human touch?
So why couldn’t one human be allergic to another human?
To answer the question, it helps to understand a bit about our immune system. Our immune systems operate sort of like an alarm system. In general, it takes something unfamiliar to enter our body system in some way to trigger the alarm. Once the alarm has been triggered, the body responds in the ways we are familiar with.
For one human to experience an allergic reaction to another, something from that other human must trigger our immunological alarm system. If the other human was encased in a rubber suit, for example, there is nothing about that human which could cause the immune system alarm to trigger, unless of course you are allergic to rubber.
If you tend to experience an allergic reaction to other people after coming into contact with them, in general, most people are having an allergic reaction to some other allergen, rather than the human themselves. If you are particularly sensitive, you may be experiencing a reaction to something the other human briefly came into contact with.
There are many substances out there that people don’t even realize can cause allergic responses.
Metal is often an allergen, and you may have friends who cannot wear cheap jewelry made of nickel. However, you may not realize that nickel is a component in many cell phones, and does cause many cell phone users trouble. Did you have a reaction after interacting with someone who was using a cell phone, or did you borrow their phone (or other device, such as tablet or laptop)?
Metal can also be troublesome for sensitive folks through clothing. Buttons, zippers, and other clothing decorations can contain metal which can cause an allergic response.
Cosmetics commonly contain ingredients that are harmless for most of the population, but can cause trouble in sensitive individuals. For example, most people know that wool is a scratchy fabric and hate to wear it next to their skin.
But what most don’t know is that lanolin is a product made from sheep (like wool), and that many lotions, shampoos, ointments, and lip balms contain lanolin.
If you worry that you are allergic to human touch because of a reaction you had (or many reactions), take careful look at what happened. Did you break out in a rash after shaking hands with, hugging, or kissing another human? Perhaps your response is the result of coming into contact with a cosmetic or other product used by that human. Ask them about the product they use.
Allergies to dust and pollen are quite common, and those who suffer every spring when everything starts to bloom, suffer greatly (enough to seek medication). But what you might not know is that many of the products that result from pollen, such as fresh fruits and vegetables can cause allergic reactions. (Think apples, carrots, bananas, peaches, celery, onions, and more).
When you have an allergic reaction to coming into contact with someone, it may be because that person had contact with fresh fruits or vegetables before coming into contact with you.
Dust mites cause all kinds of trouble (I know this one personally). You might end up sneezing like mad after hugging a friend who cuddled on an old, dusty blanket, visited a used bookstore, got something out of the basement or attic, or browsed at a second hand shop or flea market.
I could go on through all of the various known allergens there are out in the world that could be the culprit in the contact, including but not limited to latex, hair dye, animals, mold, and more. But in these cases, the allergen itself is the trouble, not contact with the human (sans allergen).
Human body created allergens: can a man be allergic to a woman (or vice versa)
We’ve talked about external allergens. Humans do create/secrete substances which others may experience a reaction to. Some people experience an allergic reaction to coming into contact with sperm, vaginal secretions, saliva, human hair, or human skin.
It is much less common for humans to react to human skin or have a human hair allergy (without another added allergen such as a cosmetic) but it does occur. There are a fair amount of people who do react to human semen, though the severity of the reaction depends upon the partner.
What about when the reaction cannot be explained?
Finally, in the case of an inexplicable reaction, where all other possible sources of the allergen have been eliminated, I do think that we could look to human pheromones as a possible problem.
After all, remember, there has to be something that triggers our internal alarm system. Not much is known about human pheromones, and medical researchers disagree on the basic theory as it relates to humans. But it is theorized by some that human pheromones are secreted, and meant to trigger behavior in others. (They give the example of how women’s menstrual cycles synchronize, or how men seem more attracted to a particular woman when she is ovulating).
Either way, if human pheromones do exist (which I think it makes sense if they do, we are mammals, after all), then we may be unconsciously sending out tiny, tiny particles into the world that come into contact with other people. It makes sense to me that if getting a bit of pollen into your nose could cause hives, that getting a bit of your neighbor’s pheromones could do the same.
Still so very much to learn
There’s tons about allergic reactions that we don’t necessarily understand at this point. We know how the immune system works, and how it can massively overreact to substances that are innocuous (sometimes to our OWN sweat or tears). Humans CAN be allergic to other humans, though it is generally because of some allergen the other human can into contact with.
But I’m not going to rule out that there is more out there for us humans to learn about the immune system, and what are own bodies are doing at a level that we cannot yet detect, analyze, or understand.