Some people are lucky to be allergy-free, but wealth has nothing to do with it. In fact, one popular theory dubbed the "hygiene hypothesis" suggests children raised in rural areas and surrounded by animals and germs are less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma.
But there are some allergens most of us will never have to worry about. These are the allergy triggers for the 1 percent -- rare, but no less debilitating than the pollen plaguing just about everyone right now.
|Platinum and Gold|
The most common metal allergen is nickel, a common contaminate in gold and even platinum jewelry. But a person can also be allergic to pure gold, according to Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Med Allergy and Asthma Care of New York and assistant clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.
"If you're allergic to gold, you have to avoid gold," Bassett said, describing the contact dermatitis resulting from a metal allergy as an itchy red rash that can evolve into painful blisters.
At $345 an ounce, beluga caviar is one of the priciest fish products on the market. But some people are allergic to certain species of fish. And caviar -- made from the salt-cured eggs of the beluga sturgeon and its relatives -- can trigger dangerous allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, according to a 2002 study.
You've heard of alcohol intolerance. Well, even the priciest bottle of bubbly can trigger allergic reactions in people sensitive to grapes, yeast or sulfites, according to Bassett.
"A person can have an alcohol intolerance, or it can be a very specific intolerance to a particular ingredient," he said, noting that sulfite-free wines and champagnes are available.
There's a reason cashmere's so soft: By law, it has to come from the "fine undercoat fibers" of a cashmere goat, and the average diameter of those fibers cannot exceed 19 microns -- about 0.0007 inches. But even the softest cashmere can feel like sandpaper on dry, itchy skin.
"Wool can be very irritating," said Bassett. "Particularly for people with eczema or really dry skin, certain fabrics are more irritating than others."
They might seem like the perfect getaway, but summer homes can be hotbeds for allergens like pollen, insects and sun – yes, sun. For some unlucky vacationers, sun can trigger a rash so miserable it erupts into angry blisters.
At $250 an ounce, the fresh white truffle is the king of mushrooms. But that doesn't make it allergy-proof.
"I just saw a report of a truffle allergy last week," said Bassett. "And keep in mind you can be allergic to one type of mushroom and not another."
Shellfish are the No. 1 cause of food allergies in adults, according to Bassett. And allergic reactions to shellfish like lobster, shrimp and crab can range from hives and nasal congestion to anaphylaxis.
"People need to plan ahead and not take any chances," said Bassett, adding that chef cards detailing specific meal requirements can help prevent a reaction.
People with severe food allergies should also carry an epinephrine auto-injector like an EpiPen, Bassett said.
The priciest perfumes and skin care products can still cause allergic reactions because of the chemicals that give them their scent, according to Bassett.
"In one fragrance, there may be as many as 26 allergens," he said.
A Pennsylvania school asked students to stop wearing Axe Body Spray after a student suffered a life-threatening reaction in March.
The American Kennel Club recommends 11 dog breeds for people with pet allergies. Unfortunately, the Tibetan mastiff, which earned the title of most expensive dog after selling for $1.5 million, didn't make the list.
Breeds that made the cut include the Portuguese Water Dog and the Xoloitzcuintli, aka the Mexican Hairless Dog.