What is a saliva allergy?

A saliva allergy is a medical condition involving a negative reaction of the immune system, usually of the skin, that occurs when a person comes into contact with saliva. The problem is most commonly associated with pets and animals, although some people have also reported cases of reactions to human saliva.

Doctors and veterinarians believe that a saliva allergy falls into one of two types. The first type occurs when a person's immune system responds to one or more of the proteins directly within the saliva. A person may also experience a reaction if the saliva contains something else to which the individual is allergic: it is believed that most cases of allergy to human saliva fall into this category, although much more research is needed. For example, if a person eats some peanuts, some peanut debris could be in the mouth and saliva immediately after consumption and can cause a reaction in someone with a peanut allergy. In this case, saliva is not really the problem.

Sometimes an allergy to saliva is difficult to identify. For example, if a dog rolls on the grass and then licks its fur, then the allergens in the grass can be transferred to the dog's saliva. If the dog licks his owner, who is allergic to specific allergens in grass, it may appear that the owner is reacting to the saliva when he is actually reacting to separate substances. Similarly, if the proteins in a dog's saliva are really problematic and he licks his fur, the dog's owner might assume that the problem is dander from the dog's hair. Generally speaking, anything an animal licks can show up as the source of the reaction.

When there is an allergy to saliva, sometimes the only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid saliva. This is quite easy to do with a pet: people can find a new home for it, although this can be emotionally difficult. However, if the reaction occurs with human saliva, the allergy is more of an issue, requiring at least a thorough examination of what a person causing the reaction eats and drinks.

Most allergies have a genetic link. This makes it unlikely that a person will be able to get rid of a saliva allergy completely. However, the ability of the body's immune system to handle the allergen is flexible depending on overall health. To make things more complicated, genes can be turned on or off at certain points, which means that not everything in the genetic code always appears. This explains why a saliva allergy, along with other allergies, can come and go over time.

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