Allergic to various 'Benz'- related chemicals

I have a different type of question today, something which I believe a pro chemist may be able to answer.

I have discovered that I seem to develop rashes (contact allergy) to all topical products that contain chemicals which seem to always feature the word 'benz' in them, in some form.

So far I am sure I react to benzoyl peroxide, benzoic acid, sodium benzoate and seemingly also to benzyl alcohol (not 100% sure about that one yet though). 

Trouble is, it does not matter if these 'benz' substances come into contact with my skin or if they are in food or drinks I consume (and they seem to be everywhere!!!) ...I will react.

So my task now, is to find a list of anything that is chemically related to benzoic acid and/or sodium benzoate, so that i can start checking labels and avoid those like the plague.

Am I right in assuming I should simply stay away from anything that has the term 'benz' in it? Are those all related?

Also; could there be chemicals by other names that are similar in structure and might cause cross reactions based on their similarity to 'benz' related substances (for example. other preservatives such as parabens etc)?

Any help is, as usual, very greatly appreciated!



  • BelassiBelassi Member, PCF student
    So you're allergic also to soft drinks such as Coke and Pepsi?
    Cosmetic Brand Creation. Concept to name to IMPI search to logo and brand registration. In-house graphic design inc. Pantone specs. Cosmetic label and box design & graphics.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    edited September 2016
    Try test driving a Mercedes Benz ... if you have a reaction, then you can be certain that you are allergic to anything that has a name with the letters BENZ when they are in that order.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • johnbjohnb Member, Professional Chemist
    Just checking it's not April 1st.

    Is this a jest?

    Chemical nomenclature is entirely man made and whether a mateial has "benz" in its name depends on the naming system used. For example, vanillin (the most widely used flavouring  agent by a long way) by its IUPAC name becomes 4-Hydroxy-3-methoxybenzaldehyde. Does this mean you are allergic to vanilla?

    There are gazillions of examples of materials containing a "benz" structure.

    You should consult a health professional.
  • MicroformulationMicroformulation Member, Professional Chemist
    There are also "benz" compounds involved in physiological enzymatic pathways in your body, so in that case you would be allergic to yourself or exhibit an autoimmune issue.

    The key point is that "benz" is not a family of related compounds and it is incorrect to lump them all together. The "benz" is a naming system for a molecular structure that is so ubiquitous that an allergy to all would be impossible. Microformulation Cosmetic Consulting provides Custom Formulations for both large Commercial accounts as well as smaller entrepreneurs. We can provide Naturally compliant Formulations under the NSF, NPA, Whole Foods and USDA Organic Certifications. BS.Pharm Albany College of Pharmacy, Union University.
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    Allergic reactions are complicated. You should see a health professional for a diagnosis of exactly what you are allergic to.
  • DavidDavid Member
    edited September 2016
    It is just a coincidence that you found this "benz"-pattern. "Benz" in a chemical name has no correlation to allergy.
  • Hi,
    Thanks to every one who replied. I am a novice, so am grateful for the clarification/s. 
    It is a coincidence then that I react to various chemicals that seem to have somewhat similar names.
    I know for a fact that I react to benzoic acid, benzoyl peroxide and sodium benzoate. And yes, soft drinks are a big no-no for me as are just about all other processed drinks or food. 
  • ozgirlozgirl Member, PCF student
    It is not a coincidence that you react to all three of those ingredients. From a chemistry point of view

    Sodium benzoate is the neutralised form of benzoic acid. When added to formulas with an acidic pH (most creams/lotions, soft drinks etc) it will  release benzoic acid.

    Benzoyl peroxide can hydrolyse to form benzoic acid. 

    So in reality you are probably only allergic to benzoic acid.

    As others have mentioned there are thousands (millions?) of chemicals that contain a benzene ring structure that would have -benz in the name.

    Your medical professional should be able to give you a list of ingredients to avoid.

  • Hi ozgirl,

    thank you for your kind clarification! It's all starting to make sense now!

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