Although Valentine’s Day is regarded by many as the most romantic day of the year, we know it can seem like a living nightmare for people who are at risk of severe allergic reactions.
Many allergens find their way into a variety of products and situations, including chocolates, restaurants and even the bedroom, making it difficult to relax and let your guard down if you’re affected by anaphylaxis, even when eating out or sharing a kiss with a loved one.
Be allergy aware this Valentine’s Day and read our top tips to help decrease the risk of a severe reaction occurring on this special day — and beyond!Chocolate
Don’t let Valentine’s Day leave a bad taste in your mouth!
Chocolates may seem like an ideal gift this Valentine’s Day, but for people living with food allergy, it may not be as safe as you think. Chocolate can contain many of the 14 major allergens such as peanuts, tree nuts and cow’s milk, as well as some less common ones.
Remember to forewarn a new beau about your allergy in advance to avoid the awkward ‘it’s a lovely thought, but…’ conversation or something more serious. Always remember to check the label of any gift you receive and keep two adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you at all times, just in case.
Don’t make a meal out of Valentine’s Day dining
Whilst a romantic meal for two can be the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, for people living with food allergy it can provide unwanted stress.
By law, food businesses selling catered food (for example in restaurants, takeaways and hotels) are required to provide information on 14 major food allergens, either in writing and/or verbally. If information is provided verbally, the food business will need to ensure that there is some sort of written signage that is clearly visible, to indicate that allergen information is available from a member of staff.
We’d recommend calling the restaurant in advance to ask whether they will help you choose a suitable meal. Then, when you arrive, speak to staff and ask about ingredients, how the food is prepared and whether cross-contamination is likely. Check again when your meal arrives that your dish is free from your allergens and that it has been prepared safely. Keep your adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you at all times, just in case.
If you’re not confident that your request is being taken seriously, whilst it may put a dampener on your evening, it is much better to stay safe, so it may be better to eat elsewhere.
If you are concerned about eating out, a home-made meal can be just as romantic. Members can also check our ‘Tried and Trusted‘ area to find out which restaurants have been recommended by other members.
Don’t give the kiss of death this Valentine’s Day
The most romantic day of the year is a great excuse to wine, dine and kiss your lover, but for people at risk of severe allergic reactions, Valentine’s Day can also be one of the most stressful days of the year. Before you pucker up, you may find your head reeling with questions such as… ‘what if my breath smells?’ ‘Do they really want to kiss me?’ ‘Should I really kiss them?’ People with allergies are also likely to be asking themselves far more troublesome questions, such as … ‘what have they eaten today?’ or ‘What if I have a reaction?’
Allergens can remain in saliva for several hours, and researchers are still debating exactly how long, but it is estimated anywhere between two and 24 hours. Unfortunately, even the suggestion of getting someone to brush their teeth beforehand is up for debate. When it comes to a snog or even a peck, you may be at risk of a more threatening reaction than butterflies, so keep two adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you at all times, just in case. Always make sure your partner is aware of your allergy and ensure they haven’t consumed your allergen. If in doubt, don’t make out!
Keep sex safe this Valentine’s Day
Allergens can turn up in places you may not expect, and condoms are no exception. Latex and milk can be found in many brands of condoms and having skin contact with one of these may cause someone you love to have an allergic reaction. Whilst you may want them to burn with passion for you, this won’t be what your lover has in mind.
Practicing safe sex means much more to people who are at risk of severe allergic reactions. There are many non-latex or milk free condoms available, just ask the manufacturer’s advice on which allergens may be used in production. Always make sure your partner is aware of your allergy and check the manufacturer’s advice before you retire to the bedroom. Most importantly, if you have any doubts do not use the condom and hold off until you can purchase a safe one. Keep two adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you at all times, just in case.
Give them a nice surprise, not a nasty shock this Valentine’s Day
You might be looking forward to enjoying the relaxing effect of a good massage from your sweetheart. However, for people at risk of severe reactions, the idea of a massage can be more stressful than relaxing. Allergens can be found in a multitude of products and massage oils, moisturising creams and soaps are no exception. Some people with allergies can have reactions from contact alone, which can prove fatal, so make sure you and your partner can be met by a nice surprise, not a nasty shock.
Always make sure your partner is aware of your allergy, always check the ingredients label and keep two adrenaline auto-injectors (AAIs) with you at all times, just in case.
The Cosmetics Regulation states that the names used for ingredients of cosmetics must be standardised (called the INCI name system) so you will see common food-based ingredients used in cosmetics given a Latin name. We’ve got a list of common terms in our Cosmetics, Personal Care Products and Medicines Factsheet (see below).
Check out our Cosmetics, Personal Care Products and Medicines Factsheet for more information on condoms and massage products.
For more information, contact our helpline on 01252 542029 or email [email protected].