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View Full Version : Allergy to pastels?? Help please


artbabe21
06-04-2003, 05:39 PM
OK, most my painting sessions have been w/o a mask & for short periods with no problems. Today I actually wore a piece of cloth like Barb does tied over my nose & mouth, so I could actually breathe some, I had a window open, the painting was laying down on the table (my choice way to work) and after an hour took a break and my throat was scratchy, some coughing, but it definitely feels irritated. For those of you who have had difficulty with dust form pastels is this an allergy to pastel particles or what? :confused:

Btw, I am only using pastel pencils-- Conte...:(:crying: :rolleyes:

Craig Houghton
06-04-2003, 05:45 PM
the painting was laying down on the table (my choice way to work)

You may want to consider making vertical your preferred choice. When the pastel is standing straight up the particles fall in a neat little pile. I find that when I work on a slant or flat, i blow the little bits all over the place the whole time I'm working, or I find that I pull my face close to the loose particles. When upright those altogether loose particles are happily fallen away. I never find much dust to be floating around after that.

Hope this helps,
Craig

Dark_Shades
06-04-2003, 05:59 PM
Yikes !!! artbabe thats bad......... not heard of pencils causing problems before ....... hope you can resolve it ...... do you suffer with asthma or pollen allergies .... could it be something like that ...... someone in here was saying about they have a little air extractor gadget ...... which piles up any dust to one place .....

..... what about trying a humidifier ...... or just a simple bowl of water

artbabe21
06-04-2003, 06:11 PM
Originally posted by Dark_Shades
...... do you suffer with asthma or pollen allergies .... could it be something like that ......

no asthma, allergies EVER...but you got me to thinking...I did suffer a chemical burn to the back of my throat by not using my noggin' last summer...the irritation is in the same spot...:( can't imagine it would be related as the chem burn wasn't severe or anything & did see a doctor......this is SO bumming me out....

granted this IS a very dry climate but it feels more like a sensitivity...

I did quit using soft pastels due to coughing from the dust...:crying: perhaps I AM really sensitive! oh, NO.....I LOVE this medium!

Thanks Craig, will try the up right position but laying down seemed to be so much more natural for me even after being an oil painter for many years...and being used to that easel position

Mo.
06-04-2003, 06:27 PM
Be careful Artbabe, try wearing a proper mask and using the easel, if you are still coughing and have an irritable throat, I advise you to see your doc ~ you could well be developing an allergy to the pastel dust ~ because you have never suffered with asthma or allergies in the past doesn't mean that you won't in the future.

I've stopped using soft pastels because I do suffer from asthma ~ I tried wearing a mask, but didn't work, every night I was wheezing and coughing, couldn't breathe properly ~ I now use oil pastels, since using them there has been a remarkable difference in my breathing ~ I no longer cough or wake in the night short of breath ~ I understand how you feel, as I too love the soft pastels, and missed them initially, but now I'm really taken with the oil pastels they are so versatile and my health is so much better. I will still use the soft pastels, but not on a daily basis anymore, more like a few times a year.

Good luck,
Mo.

sundiver
06-04-2003, 06:35 PM
Ditto to everything Mo said.
I'm allergic to dust. I wear a mask, or regret not wearing it. Even the pastel pencils can get dusty if you're laying down a fairly thick coat of color.
Holbein oil pastels claim to feel a lot like soft pastels, and they almost do. Give o.p.s a try now and then!

artbabe21
06-04-2003, 06:40 PM
Thanks for the advice Mo...I thought I'd been easing my way into them AND had no problems TIL I wore something to mask any particles...GO FIGURE! I can breath fine...just a dry irritated throat & it's too coincidental...:rolleyes:

Are there actually any masks you CAN breathe with? I won't go the canister route, would give them up before that...:(

Glad you are doing well with the oil pastels!! I've played with the water soluble ones and they look like watercolors...but (POUT) nothing can be like dry pastels...:(

sundiver...thanks for your added thoughts...I appreciate it!

jackiesimmonds
06-04-2003, 06:54 PM
I think it is really important to listen to your body. If your body doesn't like something you are doing, then you MUST stop doing it. Your body knows best.

You MUST work at an easel when using pastels, no matter how long it takes to get used to it. Those pastel particles are no good for anyone's lungs, and blowing at your paper is just the worst thing to do, spreading all those tiny bits of chalk into the air - yuk! One should vacuum the room, and easel trays, regularly too.

The red light is on - be warned.

Yes, you can wear a dust mask, I got some in a pharmacy, quite good,and easy to breathe thro if a bit hot, but even so, given your throat problem, I would stop using the pastels if the easel/working upright idea, + mask, doesn't help.

Jackie

Mo.
06-04-2003, 07:31 PM
Originally posted by artbabe21
Thanks for the advice Mo...I thought I'd been easing my way into them AND had no problems TIL I wore something to mask any particles...GO FIGURE! I can breath fine...just a dry irritated throat & it's too coincidental...:rolleyes:

Are there actually any masks you CAN breathe with? I won't go the canister route, would give them up before that...:(

Glad you are doing well with the oil pastels!! I've played with the water soluble ones and they look like watercolors...but (POUT) nothing can be like dry pastels...:(

sundiver...thanks for your added thoughts...I appreciate it!

You are right and you are wrong, You can make oil pastels look similar to soft pastels, okay not exactly like soft, it's all to do with technique, you can pull them dry across a surface loosely, you can blend with them, use them dry, cross hatch stipple, these are just few...or use them wet, thinned down to give a wash or glaze, paint with them using various brushes, so many wonderful effects can be achieved with them, I've only touched the surface so far ~ but will say that anyone who has a problem with the dust from soft pastel ~ give them a try, but try the Artist quality pastels, the cheap brands will put you off.

cheers,
Mo.

artbabe21
06-04-2003, 07:31 PM
Jackie...thanks for your comments...trying to compare what might be others reactions and/or solutions...:)

I have been VERY careful NOT to blow but tap into a waste can...one thing I did differently that I just remembered was to lay in a background which is the most dust I have yet created... I am sure so that could be the culprit. I would definitely HAVE to give them up if this persists. Believe me one thing I have learned over the years IS to listen to my body...:)

Mo.
06-04-2003, 07:34 PM
Artbabe.. we posted at the same time, :)

Mo.

artbabe21
06-04-2003, 07:43 PM
Originally posted by Mo.
You are right and you are wrong, You can make oil pastels look similar to soft pastels, okay not exactly like soft, it's all to do with technique

Thanks Mo...you've been SO helpful, I'll have to read up on the oil
pastel sticky...will stay away from pastels for awhile...:(

Luvy
06-05-2003, 09:11 AM
I notice symptoms when I've worked for long periods of time with my pastels. I have a drawing board table I work on which you can adjust the slant. I had a bad night last night. But then I'm allergic to everything :mad: But not giving up my pastels NOPE I'm going to die of something at least my lungs will be colorful LOL ROFLMAO and they can say on my tombstone She died doing what she liked best LOL

artbabe21
06-05-2003, 10:27 AM
Oh, Luvy...do you wear a mask & latex gloves? Hate to see you put yourself at risk.

Today I am better so it can be attributed totally to the pastels. It's clear I didn't get any particles in my lungs for I only coughed a few times from my throat irritation. I will wait a few days & try again with my work on an easel and a proper mask. I sure can't imagine this from merely using pencils!!!:confused:

lorelou
06-06-2003, 02:10 PM
Artbabe....I am new to pastels. My first set bought was the soft kind. I really hated the dust so much that I didn't want to use pastels as a medium anymore.

I know that most everyone probably buys Nupastels which I almost bought but someone said that creatcolor was a little harder and was much less dustier than Nupastel.

So I decided to get them. I have never used Nupastel so I can't compare but I am extremely happy with the Creatcolor. And yes there is hardly any dust and yet they put down color very well.

Drumbeat-trish
06-06-2003, 03:38 PM
Hmmmmmm -just to throw a spanner in the works..... seems unlikely to me that pastel pencils would cause that irritation -and the fact that you said you had no problems till you wore the cloth makes me wonder if it wasn't something in the cloth rather than the pastels ?????? Laundry powders and cause all sorts of irritations -as can dust mites etc -just a thought :)
And anything in bloom outside that open window?????????

artbabe21
06-06-2003, 03:57 PM
Trish... good thought....I would love to believe that's it... none of it fit together, since I'd been doing fine w/the pencils before the cloth.

The cloth was actually a NEW piece of fabric I had in my closet that I tied around my face...wonder if it's the dyes that are strong
when fabric is new & who knows how long that fabric was in that closet?? It took til today to have lost all sign of irritation...nothing growing outside but grass & I've not ever had allergies to anything before.

I just assumed that it was the pastels since I'd had some mild coughing from the soft pastels but ya know the symptoms weren't really the same......I DO plan to try my pastels again but will wait a little bit. Thanks for taking the time to help me sort this out!!

Lorelou...glad to know Creatcolor pastels are harder & you've enjoyed them w/o any dust.

ceEllicott
09-20-2003, 04:54 PM
[i] a NEW piece of fabric I had in my closet that I tied around my face...wonder if it's the dyes that are strong
when fabric is new . [/B]


ArtBabe

New fabric ALWAYS makes me sick. New clothes, new cars etc.
Ditto for copy shops, newspapers, phonebooks etc.
The dye / ink is a killer.


cheryl

artbabe21
09-20-2003, 05:09 PM
Originally posted by ceEllicott
New fabric ALWAYS makes me sick. New clothes, new cars etc.
Ditto for copy shops, newspapers, phonebooks etc.
The dye / ink is a killer.


Cheryl-----ya know my eyes even get itchy when I go into a fabric shop? Bet that's it.....I've stayed away from pastels & went back to my oils w/o a problem....but plan to try pastels again when my life settles down...:) Boy, you are really having problems...:crying:

Dyin
09-20-2003, 07:04 PM
Hey, Cathleen...long time no see! How long before the BIG TRIP??? I just got Holbein oil pastels...a LOT like soft pastels...no dust...I sold my softies...I went and tried them and get the hack no matter what...even with an easel....I LOOOOVE my Holbeins...

artbabe21
09-20-2003, 07:27 PM
I've missed you! Life is going too dang fast! Yes, the trip is around the corner, almost 2 weeks.....excited but so filled with stuff to do!! How's everything with you? Holbiens huh? How are they different from what you were using before? :)

Dyin
09-20-2003, 07:34 PM
a LOT different...for one they're not really oily...a touch sticky to the touch maybe when you hold them....they come in value ranges of 5 to a color and I bought the set of 50...the smaller sets give you more colors, but not the full ranges....so I'm learning to use a limited palette...I posted my first WIP practice piece today with them...in this forum...they are closer to soft than the others...I can layer these lightly...letting colors optically mix...and just getting used to them but already they are my favorite...the others I couldn't work with without using tools or turp...these are stand alone like softies....ooooooh 2 weeks....I wish you lovely weather in that special place!!! Can't wait to hear about it....

ceEllicott
09-20-2003, 09:04 PM
Cathleen


Nice to hear you're doing well with the oils. :)
My WS oils are great, haven't tried the regulars yet, but I assume with the right medium (beeswax sounds good) and something gentle to clean up with they'd be ok.

Dyin --
Oil pastels! YOu're so brave. I tried and failed with them long ago and have been afraid to try again. Made a big ugly mess, I did.
:)

Lovely to find that my daughter has inherited my sensitivities -- but at least I can smell things and now tell if they'll probably bother her. Kind of like a taster as the Kings used to have.

:rolleyes:

I think I'll get her some watercolor or gouache to try......


cheryl

vrashton
09-20-2003, 10:28 PM
When using soft pastels you should always wear a proper mask, tying a cloth around your mouth will not keep out the dust particles and neither will those little white masks you get at hardware stores, they are meant for bigger particles. The mask I use has filters, I do not have a hard time breathing although it does leave silly marks on my face (temporarily).
Val

gnu
09-21-2003, 03:03 AM
Have just seen this thread..I sympathise..
much as I love to work with dry pastels..I can't do it inside..I get severe eye reaction from the dust..if I go near my PC area within a week of using it..it's the same..so I've decided that I will use them outside only...and I won't blow the dust at all..
So I'm waiting till the weather warms up..I may use goggles too..

I bought some pastel pencils..but I still only use them outside...
So I content myself with oil pastels, Coloured pencil, acrylic and Watercolour thru the winter..pastel will be a summer/autumn treat!! this could be a good thing..I might be more inspired..
I'll also work vertically..
Agree with Jackie..she's an expert..if either of us have persisting symptoms we will have to accept it..sigh...

blissfullyunaware
09-21-2003, 03:39 AM
Wow, Guys hate hearing all the sensitivity problems that you folks are having :crying: . Just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. I have sensitivities to some things (so far lucky haven't noticed a problem with the pastels). The scratchy throat sounds like "post nasal drip", sinus problems, which are also like seasonal allergies (my problem). I found the nasal inhaler help keep the reactions to a minimum. BUT in all honesty, I do recommend that you see your doc, simply because you said you suffered a severe chem burn in the area that was bothering you. (uh oh, everyone is going to know I'm a hypochondriac now... LOL :D ) Some over the counter things work just fine but... doc would know better which type to recommend. Take care! Sharon

artbabe21
09-21-2003, 02:21 PM
Originally posted by blissfullyunaware
The scratchy throat sounds like "post nasal drip", sinus problems, which are also like seasonal allergies (my problem). I found the nasal inhaler help keep the reactions to a minimum. BUT in all honesty,

I do recommend that you see your doc, simply because you said you suffered a severe chem burn in the area that was bothering you.

Hi Sharon--actually I did ask my doctor about this when I had my yearly exam & she was very aware of sensitivities & did give me a nasal inhaler for allergy...

and btw, the chem burn was a mild one ( sure that's what I wrote) and she said it would not be playing into this....I only had a problem w/the itchy throat after the pastel & oil pastel episodes...sometimes we have little allergies we don't pay attention to like I get itchy watery eyes--so something about the pastels triggers that throat thing. I am at least glad I can still use my oils & will try pastels again when I catch up with my life...:)

ceEllicott
09-21-2003, 04:06 PM
Originally posted by artbabe21

when I catch up with my life...:)


LOL

Nice to hear I'm not the only one always trying to catch up with my life!
I keep wondering how it happens that each time I almost succeed, along comes something else and I say OH SURE I'll do that . . .



cheryl

artbabe21
09-21-2003, 04:12 PM
Originally posted by ceEllicott
along comes something else and I say OH SURE I'll do that . . .


been there, done that....don't anymore! I learned the hard way!

blissfullyunaware
09-21-2003, 04:19 PM
UH OH, egg on my face... :o LOL, Sorry Artbabe, it was early AM here when I started reading posts, have trouble sleeping sometimes, any who, saw serious and chem burn, but didn't read the whole sentence apparently. Glad to hear you did see the doc about it though. One day they'll get me for trying to practice medicine without a license... :rolleyes:. <retracting 2 cents.... is that allowed... :confused: LOL > Enjoy your upcoming trip! Sharon

artbabe21
09-21-2003, 05:17 PM
not a problem, no apology necessary, believe me I have done that same thing...:)

PegR
09-22-2003, 12:23 PM
Sorry for butting in, but I only just came across this thread.

Artbabe, you're doing the right thing by leaving the pastels alone. If they bother you, they bother you. Even if nobody else has a problem, getting away from it is your best solution.

As for the others who posted complaining of fabric stores, new fabrics, and so on, there's a really simple explanation:

Formaldehyde.

Nope, they're not using it as a preservative, it's used as a dye fixative. It's a notorious allergen. I'm deathly allergic to the stuff (acquired when I was taking anatomy classes). I worked in a fabric store part-time for a while, and ended up with a really spectacular case of occupational asthma and a flaming skin rash. Within a year after I quit, I was off all my medications and perfectly comfortable. I still have mild seasonal allergies, but nothing like what I had from the fabrics.

Helpful hints--wash all new clothing and fabrics or have them dry cleaned. If you buy new upholstered furniture, do it when you can leave the windows open for a few days to let the formaldehyde dissipate.

Peg--the science geek in residence:rolleyes:

MsLilypond
09-22-2003, 12:33 PM
Just starting w/ soft pastels and am allergic to dust, but I just take an over the counter allergy pill about an hour before I start and that seems to work. Keeps me from sneezing and coughing.

artbabe21
09-22-2003, 01:08 PM
Originally posted by MsLilypond
Keeps me from sneezing and coughing.

Be sure the sneezing & coughing isn't from the pastel dust or you are only exasperating the issue...:) the dust can be residing in your lungs...:(

Dyin
09-22-2003, 01:24 PM
Peg...interesting...but beware of drycleaning...my problems started with some down sleeping bags that we had drycleaned...they also use a formaldehyde formula...only they really messed up something in the process...it stunk the house up like a freshman biology lab when we opened the plastic bags...I've had autoimmune problems ever since and it ruined two super expensive down sleeping bags..

PegR
09-22-2003, 03:49 PM
Dyin--I didn't know about that practice. Good grief. It's enough to make a person bathe in distilled water . . .

Dyin
09-22-2003, 04:41 PM
distilled water baths...a thought lol...yeah, would never think they'd use it for that... but that stuff doesn't smell like anything else, just our luck tho...they went out of business before we could even complain and we'd been recommended to go there...am thinking we weren't the only ones with a problem...

ceEllicott
09-23-2003, 06:01 PM
Hey Peg

thanks for joining the conversation.
What you said makes SO much sense.

Here's something I found on a art supplies safety site:
"Acrylics:
Most brands of acrylic paints contain small percentages of formaldehyde or ammonia as preservatives. These occasionally cause allergic reactions in individuals who are sensitive to them, especially if they are using large amounts of gel or polymer medium. Read labels carefully. A window exhaust fan can alleviate irritation. "

They don't mention pastels having formaldehyde and I've never had a bad reaction to pastels EXCEPT some that I bought once off Ebay that were almost a hundred years old.
AAck. Bad stuff those. Made me very sick.

But I have noticed with certain acrylic paints they have that noxious smell, like fabric and they make me sick.

DO you suppose cheap perfume has formaldehyde too? I can't tolerate anything with cheap fragrance in it. (cheap scented candles, hair sprays etc.)



cheryl

Dyin
09-23-2003, 06:31 PM
awww....man...ever get stuck in an elevator with a bunch of real elderly ladies??? Can't breathe!!! Same with those inserts in mags...interesting on the acrylics....maybe the ones used for fabric painting????

ceEllicott
09-23-2003, 08:16 PM
Originally posted by Dyin
ever get stuck in an elevator with a bunch of real elderly ladies???


LOL.
Yeah.
That or teenage girls!

:)

cheryl

PegR
09-24-2003, 03:35 PM
Well, I *doubt* that cheap perfume has formaldehyde in it, but then I could be wrong. I know only a little about cosmetic chemistry, and formaldehyde isn't the sort of thing they'd want to use. Even if you're not outright allergic, it can still be irritating.

The perfume thing is funny--sometimes it's just the strength of the smell that bothers some people. Hairsprays and other "spray" products put a lot of particles and droplets into the air that can bother people. There are a lot of different alcohols that are in those compounds that can be a problem. As I said earlier, if it bothers you, it bothers you, and the whys and wherefores are almost irrelevant.

Cheryl, thanks for bringing up the bit about acrylics! That had slipped my mind.

Dyin--I'm sorry you didn't get a chance to at least complain to the drycleaners! I was hoping you'd at least gotten new sleeping bags out of the whole mess.

Cheers!
Peg