How to Vape if You’re Allergic or Sensitive to Propylene Glycol
Propylene glycol is one of the most common – not to mention very useful – substances in food, cosmetics and medicine. As you’re likely already aware, it’s also used as a base component of e-liquid, in which it’s usually mixed with vegetable glycerine.
What makes propylene glycol such a useful substance? One look at this list of PG’s properties will give you an idea of why it’s used for so many different things.
- PG tastes vaguely sweet and can be added to almost any consumable product without greatly altering the product’s flavour.
- PG attracts and absorbs moisture and can therefore help to prevent things from drying out.
- PG is an emulsifier that can keep ingredients mixed together and prevent them from separating.
- PG is a solvent that can be used to make liquid extracts of herbs and other solid compounds.
- PG is an excellent carrier of flavour. Many flavour concentrates – including those used to make e-liquid – use PG as a base.
PG is a common additive in foods, snacks and drink mixes. It helps ingredients mixed and helps to prevent food from spoiling. PG’s effectiveness as an emulsifier makes it a common ingredient in oral medications and in cosmetics. Since PG traps moisture, it’s a common ingredient in topical lotions and eyedrops.
The fact that PG is so common makes it extremely unfortunate that some people are allergic or sensitive to it. PG allergies are quite rare, and it’s unlikely that you’d discover the existence of a PG allergy by vaping. Since you’d ingest PG or put it on your skin almost every day just by using ordinary household products, you’d likely already know about a PG allergy long before you began vaping.
If you do think that you’ve discovered a PG allergy or sensitivity by vaping, though – or you’re already aware of a PG allergy and want to know what you should do when you switch to vaping – you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll provide some pointers that can help you identify a potential PG sensitivity or allergy. We’ll also explain how to avoid PG when you vape.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not health advice. As always, ask your GP for advice about how to handle your allergies or confirm the presence of an allergy. If you think that you are having a severe allergic reaction, call NHS on 111 for help.
How to Identify a Possible Propylene Glycol Allergy or Sensitivity
Most of the available medical literature suggests that a PG allergy will most often manifest itself as a rash on the skin. If you see redness or develop bumps around your mouth when vaping, that’s a definite cause for concern. Some people have also complained of symptoms like nausea, coughing, throat irritation or dryness, itchiness, numbness, headaches and sinus issues that go away upon switching to an e-liquid that contains no PG. Some people also experience improvement in their symptoms by switching to e-liquids with different flavours.
If you were allergic to PG, it’s likely something that you would already know – and if you didn’t know, you’d probably experience some of the above symptoms almost as soon as you started vaping. Sensitivity to a substance, however, is something that can build up over time. Some people have reported developing sensitivity to PG after several months of vaping with no problems.
If you think that you might be allergic or sensitive to PG, you should speak with your doctor about ordering the necessary tests to confirm that. It might be useful to know, though, that it’s also possible to encounter some issues when vaping that have nothing to do with PG.
How to Identify a Vaping Issue That Isn’t a Propylene Glycol Allergy
If you experience unpleasant symptoms when vaping such as the ones mentioned above, it’s possible that you are sensitive or allergic to PG. Until you’re able to confirm that with your doctor, though, consider the possibility that what you’re experiencing isn’t a PG sensitivity and is actually something else. These are a few common issues relating to vaping and smoking cessation that might seem like a PG allergy or sensitivity but actually aren’t.
As you’re likely aware, smoking is horrible for the skin. Since smoking constricts the blood vessels and impedes the skin’s ability to moisturise itself and heal damage, you’d naturally assume that quitting smoking would be a great thing for your face. It is, of course – at least in the long term – but a few people have reported experiencing breakouts in the initial weeks or months after quitting. Yes; “quit zits” are real. If you keep your body hydrated and take care of your skin, the condition will go away with time.
When you switch to vaping, your body will need a bit of time to adjust to the lower nicotine intake and to detoxify itself from the chemicals in cigarette smoke that you’re no longer ingesting. During that time, you’re probably not going to feel completely normal. It’s extremely common, in fact, to feel a sense of malaise akin to illness – without fever – when quitting smoking or drastically reducing your nicotine intake. Some of the symptoms of “quitter’s flu” include headache, irritability, sleeplessness, dizziness and sore throat. You can usually expect those symptoms to go away within a few days.
Coughing – often with mucus – is something that people commonly experience when they quit smoking. That’s because tobacco smoke impedes the normal process of mucus removal in the lungs. When you quit smoking, the lungs resume that process – and there’s plenty of extra mucus to clear out. If you cough up blood, contact your GP for advice. Otherwise, you can trust that the coughing will stop after a few days. Almost all new vapers cough for a few days after they quit smoking; it’s extremely unlikely to have anything to do with a PG allergy.
Throat irritation is one common symptom of an allergy or sensitivity to PG. However, there are also several other reasons why vaping might cause discomfort in your throat, and you should troubleshoot those things before you assume that you have a PG allergy. Here are three reasons why you might experience throat irritation when vaping.
- The nicotine strength of your e-liquid is too high. This is especially likely to be the case if vaping also makes you feel jittery.
- Your tank or pod is empty. If you forget to refill your e-cigarette, you could experience a “dry hit” that’s severely irritating to the throat.
- It’s time to replace your pod or atomizer coil. After you’ve used a pod or coil for a while, a residue called “coil gunk” may begin to collect on its heating surface. The residue builds up particularly quickly if you use e-liquid that’s sweetened with sucralose. A heavy layer of coil residue causes the coil to produce a burned taste that will irritate your throat.
How to Vape if You’re Allergic or Sensitive to Propylene Glycol
People who believe that they are allergic or sensitive to propylene glycol sometimes report that they’re able to eliminate their symptoms simply by minimising their exposure to PG. Others find that they’re only able to eliminate their symptoms by consuming no PG whatsoever. When you shop for e-liquid at Vapekit, our PG/VG ratio filter makes it easy to narrow your selection to only the e-liquids with the amount of PG that you want.
If you happen to buy vape juice from a company that doesn’t offer a filter for PG/VG ratios, then you can shop for e-liquid by checking the PG/VG ratios of products before buying them. If a particular brand doesn’t list its PG/VG ratio on the bottle, then you should read the language on the bottle closely. Note that terms like “High VG” and “Max VG” have no universally accepted definition. Those terms could indicate anything from an e-liquid containing less than 50-percent PG to an e-liquid containing almost no PG at all. The term “Max VG” often means that the e-liquid contains no added PG but could potentially use PG-based flavours. The term “100% VG,” on the other hand, should indicate that the e-liquid contains no added PG and uses no PG-based flavours. Again, though, this isn’t a term with a universally accepted definition. To be absolutely certain that a vape juice contains no PG at all, you should always ask the manufacturer before buying it.