Sensitisation and Allergies

Many thanks to Chrissie of Gorgeous Guineas for supplying us with this article, the link to the colourings website is an incredible read and just reinforces that not only are you what you eat but your animals are what they eat too!

Skin Sensitisation and Allergies

The number of people and animals suffering from allergies and skin sensitisation has increased dramatically in recent years. Stress has a lot to do with this, but there is also the ever increasing number of chemicals found in our food, water and the air that we breathe.
Skin sensitisation is caused when a chemical allergen (such as fragrance oil) provokes an immune response which shows up as inflammation of the skin. This often happens if the skin has been exposed to the allergen for sufficient time to cause contact dermatitis. The greater the exposure to an allergen, the more serious the immune response will be. So, if a guinea is living in a cage surrounded by scented shavings all day long, an allergic reaction is likely to happen sooner or later given their close proximity to the ground and the enclosed nature of the cage.
Lavender and Lemon essential oils and fragrances both contain allergens that can potentially cause skin sensitisation.
For human products, the EU Cosmetics Directive requires that 26 named fragrance allergens in excess of 0.01% in wash-off and 0.001% in leave-on products must be shown on the label in the list of ingredients. There is no such requirement for animal products. Fragrances and essential oils of different types may contain similar compounds, so if you become allergic to Lavender (for example) you may also react to other fragrances or essential oils containing the same or similar compounds. All the leave-on Gorgeous Guineas products come with instructions for doing a patch test before using the product on your guinea, along with a warning to stop using the product if any redness or swelling is observed.
So what’s the advice for guinea bedding? Steer well clear of anything containing shavings / sawdust, as well as avoiding bedding that contains fragrances / essential oils of any kind. One variety of short chopped straw used to contain Eucalyptus oil and now contains Manuka oil.
Another big cause of allergies is E numbers in the form of artificial colours. Please check that your guinea’s dried food / treats do not contain any of these “EC Permitted Colours”. Take a look at the problems that E110 (Sunset Yellow) can potentially cause: This is one of the colours often found in guinea pig food.
Keep your guinea safe and healthy by avoiding potential allergens wherever possible.