If paint fumes make you cough and wheeze, you may have wondered: can I be allergic to paint? It’s entirely possible, especially if you have existing allergies or asthma.
Paint allergies are usually caused by VOCs (volatile organic compounds). These airborne chemicals can irritate the respiratory system and linger long after paint dries. Some paints can also cause an itchy, dry rash upon contact with the skin.
In this guide, we’ll explain how to tell if you have a wall paint allergy, and the symptoms to look out for. We’ll also discuss why Auro natural paints are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
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Can Paint Cause Allergies?
Many people are hypersensitive to the fumes released by wet paint. The larger the area you’re painting, the more fumes you will inhale, and the more likely you are to have a reaction.
You can be allergic to almost any type of paint. It’s particularly common for people to be allergic to gloss paint that contains chemical solvents. A water-based, natural emulsion is far less likely to cause symptoms.
People with existing allergies and respiratory conditions such as asthma are particularly prone to developing paint allergies. Even if you’re not allergic to paint smell, you may still experience a blocked or runny nose and sneezing. This is called non-allergic rhinitis.
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VOCs and Paint Fume Sensitivity
So, how does paint cause allergies and rhinitis? Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are the primary culprit of paint fume sensitivity. These airborne chemicals are present in practically everything that has an odour, from paint to scented flowers.
In the UK, there are strict regulations on the use of harmful VOCs in paint and similar products. ‘Safe limits’ have been established for certain chemicals, while others are banned. However, even paint that abides by these guidelines can cause an allergic reaction.
Fortunately, not all paint is high in VOCs. For example, Auro is a particularly allergy-friendly paint brand specialising in emission-free formulas.
What Are the Symptoms of a Wall Paint Allergy?
The signs of a wall paint allergy can vary from person to person, depending on several factors. The type of paint, duration of exposure and how well the room is ventilated can all have an effect. Some people may also be more sensitive to VOCs than others.
Some of the most common paint fume allergy symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Runny or itchy nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
If you have asthma, inhaling paint fumes could even trigger an asthma episode or attack. Some types of paint can also cause contact dermatitis when it touches the skin. This can make the skin itchy, dry, blistered and cracked.
How to Prevent an Allergic Reaction to Paint
To avoid having an allergic reaction, good ventilation is important – especially if the paint is high in VOCs. In a stuffy room, an allergy to gloss paint containing chemical solvents could flare up within minutes.
Whether you are painting walls, ceilings or woodwork, open all windows and doors to encourage a through-draught. Additionally, always wear gloves to protect your skin.
Paint fumes are always strongest while the paint is wet. But can you have an allergic reaction to paint once it has dried? Surprisingly, yes – VOCs can linger for some time. Ideally, air the room out for several days before re-entering.
The best way to avoid a paint allergy flare-up altogether, of course, is to use a hypoallergenic paint.
What Is the Best Anti-Allergy Paint?
Some of the most hypoallergenic wall paint available in the UK is produced by Auro: industry-leading makers of eco-friendly natural paint.
Auro specialise in ecological, plant-based formulas free from petrochemicals and plastics. Many of the brand’s most popular paints are classified as skin-safe and VOC-free. This means they’re tolerated well by people with allergies, asthma and hypersensitivity.
If you’re looking for a good allergy-free paint for interior walls, we’d recommend Auro 555 Premium Emulsion. Available in 96 beautiful Auro paint colours, this high-quality matt finish paint is completely emission-free. What’s more, it’s safe to use around children and pets, and is suitable for vegans.
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Where Can I Buy Hypoallergenic Wall Paint in the UK?
Head to the Greenshop Paints online store to discover one of the largest selections of natural wall paint in the UK. We stock a wide range of specialist low-VOC, hypoallergenic paints from some of the world’s leading eco-friendly brands.
We are proud to be the chosen main Auro paint stockists in the UK. You’ll find many of their best-selling products on our website – from emulsions and clay paints to primers, fillers and finishes.