Resin art has picked up in trend over the last few years. Have you ever wondered, can you be allergic to epoxy resin? Epoxy is a chemical and working with this fascinating medium has its pros and cons.

When I began my journey as a resin artist, no one warned me of what I was getting into. All I could see was the beautiful, mesmerising end products like coasters, trays, planters, Petri dishes, tables and much more. But a word of caution here, there is more to epoxy than meets the eye.

If you choose to work with epoxy resin, you should be aware of the possible dangers and how to work your way around it.

can you be allergic to epoxy resin

What is Epoxy Resin?

Epoxy resin is a liquid substance that comes in two parts, resin and hardener. Under the right conditions, when both the parts are mixed together, this liquid hardens like plastic. Therefore, it can be used for art and crafts, among other things like making furniture, doors, doorknobs, etc.

I have worked with different epoxy resin brands. And all have one thing in common, neither of them is 100% safe to work with. Some may be less dangerous than others but it cannot be said with certainty that epoxy will not lead to any health concerns.

Wondering Can You Be Allergic To Epoxy Resin?

As an artist, when you start working with any new medium, you are curious to know all about it. You google about the best products available in the medium. You also attend a few workshops to gain hands-on experience and knowledge. Lastly, you may even want to look at other artists’ YouTube videos to catch up. These are all the possible options a beginner explores when she sets her intent on working with any new art medium.

So, you did thorough research on epoxy resin, enrolled on a workshop, and voila! You are ready to start working independently. Pat yourself to have come this far. But wait, did anyone warn you about the health hazards that can follow when working for long hours with epoxy resin?

You are taking all the necessary precautions that you need to for working with epoxy. Still, you show some symptoms like dizziness or a runny/blocked nose. This is a matter of concern and needs your immediate attention.

Check out the signs and symptoms to know ‘can you be allergic to epoxy resin?’

Signs and Symptoms – Can You Be Allergic To Epoxy Resin?

You have started to work with epoxy resin but you have no idea about the adverse effects of epoxy on your health. Overexposure to working with epoxy resin could lead to a runny nose, irritation in the eyes and throat, itchy skin, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, dizziness and lethargy. Though it is said that fewer than 12% of the people working with epoxy are prone to serious health hazards after being exposed to this chemical yet it is advisable to be cautious.

Let’s look at each symptom separately.

Skin Irritation and Rashes

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I tell you that even a few drops of epoxy resin can make your skin itch enough to bleed. When epoxy comes in contact with skin it causes inflammation or acute/chronic contact dermatitis.

If your skin is repeatedly exposed to epoxy and the condition is left untreated then you become prone to severe skin problems like eczema. It is a form of dermatitis where the skin swells, itches and can even cause blisters.

Did you know that sanding dust from a partially cured epoxy can also lead to dermatitis?

Caution: Make sure to wear gloves when working with resin. Also, if you have a habit of spilling resin all over make sure to wear full sleeves clothing. This way you reduce the chance of spilling drops on your skin. Remember, resin takes nearly two weeks to cure fully. So wait for a few days before you begin sanding your epoxy art piece/table.

Breathlessness or Difficulty Breathing

Were you aware that epoxy is toxic to breathe? And after the resin pour while the epoxy is hardening it still emits fumes for the next 24 hours. So, if you are not asthmatic or never had any breathlessness episodes before you started working with epoxy resin, then epoxy could be the culprit. If you do not treat it with proper medication and precautions at the right time, it could lead to asthma which is a permanent health issue. 

Caution: Always work in a well-ventilated room. Have a separate area in the house designated for resin work. Keep the kids out of your workspace. Also, make sure to buy a good respirator if you are going to be working for long hours with epoxy resin.

Lethargy

Any discomfort in the body can make us lazy to get out of bed. But repeated exposure to epoxy not only makes your body feel tired all day it also affects your mind. Somedays the mind feels equally exhausted as the body even if you have been well-rested.

If you don’t feel the push to carry on through the day it could be because the epoxy has negatively affected your immune system. This usually happens when our body has become allergic to epoxy. Check with your doctor to see if you need an allergy test to figure out how high or low is the allergy level that’s causing you to stay in bed all day and night.

Caution: Try taking a break from epoxy every few weeks so that you are not overly exposed to resin. Also, complete your work in small batches rather than trying to fit everything in one go.

Nausea and Dizziness

I cannot stress how damaging to the body can the fumes emerging from epoxy resin be. Also, when absorbed through the skin it can affect the nervous system and may lead to a state of confusion and headache. It may cloud your mind hence affecting your decision-making abilities. You may also lose appetite, feel nauseous or even throw up at times.

Caution: Again, restrain yourself from putting extra work hours doing epoxy resin projects. Stop working with resin if you experience dizziness, stomach pain (can be an allergic reaction leading to nausea or vomiting) and/or you find yourself scratching your skin every now and then. Do consult with your doctor immediately.

Irritation in Eyes, Nose and Throat

Chemicals and vapours in most of the epoxy resins can cause irritation in the eyes, nose and throat. You may experience itchy eyes, hazy vision, dry cough, pain in the eyes, severe headaches, from a runny nose to blocked nose, sneezing, chills, and slight fever in rare cases.

Do not confuse your symptoms with that of flu as they seem to be closer. These are the symptoms of allergies too that are caused due to excessive exposure to epoxy. Only your doctor can give you the right medical assistance.

Caution: Wear safety glasses when working with epoxy resin. Wear a mask or a respirator to avoid inhaling the poisonous fumes from liquid and partially cured epoxy. Once poured, stay away from your workspace for a day or two. Let the piece cure completely before you demold it.

How Does Your Body React When You Are Overexposed To Epoxy Resin?

Epoxy is a chemical, and like any other chemical, it is harmful and toxic to breathe. Resin fumes are poisonous and introduce numerous health threats if inhaled. Poisonous fumes can affect different parts of your body- lungs, eyes, ears, nose, throat and skin.

If you notice the following symptoms, immediately stop working with epoxy for a few days and if the problem persists do consult your doctor.

Difficulty breathing or rapid breathing
Drooling
Pain or irritation in the eyes
Hazy vision
Severe throat pain or persistent dry cough
Blocked nose
Dry or cracked lips
Pain in ears
Headache
Vomiting/Nausea
Changes in voice – hoarseness or muffled voice
Low Blood Pressure

Is it unsafe to work with epoxy resin? can you be allergic to epoxy resin

Does This Mean It Is Unsafe To Work With Resin?

Everybody reacts differently to epoxy resin. You may have shown symptoms within a few days of working with epoxy while others may have been working for years and haven’t had any visible adverse signs of epoxy on their body. It doesn’t mean that they may never be affected by the chemical. If necessary precautions are not taken allergies can set in anytime, sooner or later.

Still, the answer to the above question is No. It is not unsafe to work with resin if you are using proper safety gears and use a good quality resin than a cheaper quality epoxy.

Tips To Avoid Overexposure To Resin

By now you must have a fair idea if you are allergic to epoxy resin or not. If you have any of the above symptoms, kindly consult with your doctor.

If you are a beginner in resin art, here are a few steps you can take to ensure you do not become prone to epoxy resin allergies.

Work in a well-ventilated room.
Always wear gloves and full sleeve clothing to avoid exposing your skin to epoxy.
A good respirator is a necessity if you want to work for long hours with epoxy resin or if you are considering making it your full-time profession.
Wear safety glasses to avoid small accidents of spilling resin in your eyes.
After pouring, let the resin sit for 24 hours to cure before you demold it.
Buy a good quality epoxy resin. It may not be 100% harmless but is still better as compared to a low-quality cheap epoxy. Follow the label instructions to avoid any accidents.
It is advisable to have a separate room to work with resin.
Always work in small batches.
It is advisable to take a break from epoxy every few weeks so as to keep the health issues to a minimum.

As an artist, if you aim to create breathtaking epoxy resin art pieces, do so by all means, but make sure to keep yourself safe throughout your resin journey. Happy creating, and do share your experiences as a resin artist in the comments below.