What to avoid if allergic to polyethylene glycol?


Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a polymer that has been used in many products, including foods. It is also known as polyethylene oxide (PEO), and it is often used as an emulsifier. PEG has been used to increase the thickness of products such as ice cream, yogurt, and toothpaste. In addition to this, it helps preserve food by inhibiting bacterial growth and preventing spoilage when mixed with water or fat-based ingredients like milk.

What is polyethylene glycol?

PEG is a polymer that is used in cosmetics and personal care products, food, beverages and medical devices. PEG can be found in toothpaste, deodorants and shaving gels as well as baby wipes. It’s also used for preserving vaccines and intravenous medications.

How to avoid polyethylene glycol (PEG) allergy

To avoid polyethylene glycol, you should:

  • Avoid foods that contain polyethylene glycol. Most common foods do not contain PEG, but there are some exceptions:

  • Avoid e-liquids that contain polyethylene glycol. E-cigarettes often use propylene glycol as a solvent to dissolve nicotine or other substances, but they may also include vegetable glycerin or polyethylene glycol as an additive for consistency. Some e-liquids clearly list the ingredients on their packaging; others do not. You can ask your doctor about what type of e-liquid is best for you if this is something you're concerned about.

  • Avoid medicines that contain polyethylene glycol. Many over-the-counter and prescription medications—like birth control pills—contain polyethylene glycol as a binder or filler to make the pills more compact and stable during storage before use by humans. Ask your pharmacist whether any of your medications contain PEG before buying them (or ask them directly). If so, don't buy those items until we know whether they cause an allergic reaction when ingested into the body!

Exposure to PEG

If you are allergic to PEG, you will be allergic to many common foods and personal care products. Some of the most common

ingredients that contain polyethylene glycol include:

  • Food additives (e.g., Emulsifiers and Stabilizers, Sweeteners)

  • Personal care products (e.g., Creams/Lotions/Cleansers)

  • Medicines (Oral & Topical)

What are the symptoms of allergic reactions to PEG?

If you are allergic to PEG, your skin can react in many ways. A reaction may appear as redness and swelling of the skin. In some cases, it can cause hives or a rash. Some people have difficulty breathing after using products that contain PEG and need emergency medical attention.

If you experience any of these symptoms from using a product that contains PEG:

  • itching, swelling and rash

  • hives (small raised bumps on the skin)

  • difficulty breathing

These symptoms may be due to an allergic reaction or irritation triggered by something else in the product's ingredients list. These are common reactions among people who are sensitive to ingredients like chemical preservatives like parabens; dyes like FD&C Blue No. 1 Aluminium Lake; fragrances; formaldehyde-releasing ingredients; fragrance-masking agents such as linalool/linalyl acetate; ethanolamines (MEA/DEA); triethanolamine (TEA); phenoxyethanol/ethylhexylglycerin; sodium lauryl sulphate.

Which foods and products contain PEG?

Before you can determine if you're allergic to PEG, it's important to know what foods and products might contain PEG. The following are examples of foods and products that are likely to have polyethylene glycol:

  • Shampoo

  • Toothpaste

  • Skin care lotion or cream

It is important to understand what PEG is, how it impacts your health, and also how to avoid it in foods and products

Polyethylene glycol, commonly known as PEG, is a chemical compound that works as an emulsifier. It is used in many products, including cosmetics and medicines. Some people are allergic to PEG and may experience rashes, itching or other similar symptoms upon exposure.

The first step toward avoiding any potential problems is to understand what PEG is and how it impacts your health. If you have been diagnosed with an allergy to PEG or find yourself experiencing adverse reactions after using products containing this chemical agent, talk to your doctor about how best to proceed.


Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is a chemical compound used to thicken and stabilize products. If you are allergic to PEG, avoid any products containing this ingredient. It is important to understand what PEG is, how it impacts your health, and also how to avoid it in foods and products. For more info on PG see our blog.