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Newsprint ink allergy

Updated July 19, 2017

Newspaper ink is a minor annoyance to most people, at most prompting the need to wash their hands after handling the paper. For others, the substance used to make the ink commonly used on newsprint can cause allergies, usually affecting the eyes and skin.

Skin Allergies

A reaction from newspaper ink could be an allergy to rosin. Rosin---the sticky sap that comes from pine and spruce trees---is used in many substances, including make-up, varnish and newspaper ink. Allergic reactions to rosin, known as colophony, can cause acute allergic contact dermatitis, an itchy skin condition.

Eye Allergies

Newspaper ink can also irritate the eyelids. The Allergy Asthma and Immunology Society of Ontario found the eyelids have "very delicate and sensitive skin" that is "susceptible to many irritants and allergens," including newspaper ink, house dust mites and cosmetics.

Asthma

Allergic reactions to rosin can also cause or aggravate asthma.

Prevention

The best way to avoid an allergic reaction to newspaper ink is to avoid it. If you have allergic reactions to rosin, read the ingredient list on packaging before using a product to see if it contains rosin. Or use gloves or protective clothing. To avoid irritating your eyes after touching a newspaper, wash your hands immediately afterward with soup and warm water.

Treatment

Dermatologists can treat contact dermatitis with creams, topical or oral steroids, topical or oral antibiotics or immunosuppressive drugs.

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About the Author

Based in Buffalo, N.Y., Jenn Klein has been a reporter since 2005. She covered city government for the "Enterprise-Record" in Chico, Calif., and she reported on education for the "Journal-Advocate" in Sterling, Colo. Klein holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from Westmont College.