allergy to polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, ethylene & butylene glycols
Find it: Be a Label Detective
Learn to Recognize Hidden Glycols
Polyethylene Glycol and its pals are not always easy to find. Since they’re commonly used as inactive ingredients, pharmacists, medical professionals and manufacturers often overlook glycols.
Glycol compounds are in a category of substances that are “GRAS,” or “generally recognized as safe” and therefore they are not considered an allergen.
Prescription medications and cleaning products are the most challenging because neither are required to list inactive ingredients on the bottle.
Names are often abbreviated, which makes it difficult to find them in a long list of ingredients. Many manufacturers use proprietary or brand names for products that are essentially glycols.
For example, if two different manufacturers each make 100 mg losartan tablets, both drugs are considered ‘identical’ as long as the amount of active ingredient in each is the same, even though the inactive ingredients are different. Yikes!
To avoid them, you have to learn what they’re called.
Below are some common names for members of the glycol family. It’s not a complete list, and you can find a more comprehensive list here.
Other resources for identifying glycols are here.
It took me awhile to learn what I was looking for, but I can now scan a list of inactives in a product or medication in less than a minute.
It will get easier with practice, I promise!
Feel free to share your progress in the comments.
Common Abbreviations for Glycols
(The short list – find a more complete list here)
PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate
PEG-20 methyl glucose sesquistearate
PEG-80 sorbitan laurate
PEG-120 methyl glucose dioleate
polyoxyethylene fatty acid esters
Propylene glycol stearate
PPG-15 stearyl ether
Propylene glycol dicaprylate/dicaprate
Poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether
Polyethylene glycol monomethyl ether
Possibly related to glycols (may cause similar reactions)