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Itchiness, Sore Throat, and Other Allergic Reactions To Vaping

Understanding Allergic Reactions to Vaping

Having been in the vaping business for over 13 years, The Vape Shop has encountered a wide range of issues, including allergic reactions to vaping, particularly related to e-liquids. Allergic reactions can manifest in various ways and understanding these reactions can help vapers find the right solution.

Common Reactions to Vaping E-Liquids

Itchiness and Rashes

Some individuals may experience itchiness or rashes when vaping. This can be due to the ingredients in the e-liquid, such as propylene glycol (PG) or vegetable glycerin (VG). High PG e-liquids are more likely to cause these reactions as PG can be irritating to the skin for some people. Conversely, high VG e-liquids are generally less likely to cause itchiness, but can still affect some users. Finding a balanced 50/50 PG/VG e-liquid often helps mitigate these symptoms.

Sore Throat and Coughing

A sore throat is another common reaction, often associated with high PG-based e-liquids. PG can be harsh on the throat, especially for new vapers or those with sensitivities. On the other hand, high VG e-liquids are smoother but may cause coughing in some users. Interestingly, some vapers find that switching to nic salt e-liquids, which typically contain higher nicotine concentrations but are smoother, can also alleviate coughing.


Headaches can occur for various reasons when vaping, including nicotine strength, hydration levels, and sensitivity to certain e-liquid components. For instance, some users experience headaches with nic salt e-liquids but not with freebase nicotine e-liquids. Nic salts are absorbed more quickly and can provide a stronger nicotine hit, which might be too intense for some users.

The Role of E-Liquid Base Options

E-liquids typically consist of two main bases: propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG). Additionally, nicotine salts (nic salts) are becoming increasingly popular. Understanding the differences between these components can help vapers choose the right e-liquid to avoid allergic reactions and alleviate symptoms.

Propylene Glycol (PG)

PG is a thinner liquid that provides a stronger throat hit and is known for carrying flavours well. However, it can cause allergic reactions in some users due to its chemical properties. These reactions may include:

Itchiness: PG can be absorbed through the skin and may cause itchiness or rashes in sensitive individuals.

Sore Throat: The strong throat hit that PG provides can be irritating, especially for those who are new to vaping or who have a sensitivity to PG.

Headaches: Some people may experience headaches when exposed to PG, potentially due to its dehydrating effects or as a reaction to its presence in the vapour.

To alleviate these symptoms, vapers can adjust their e-liquid composition. If PG is the culprit, switching to a lower PG e-liquid or a high VG e-liquid can significantly reduce or eliminate these reactions.

Vegetable Glycerin (VG)

VG is thicker and provides a smoother hit with more vapour production. It is less likely to cause allergic reactions but can still be an irritant for some individuals. Common reactions include:

Coughing: The increased vapour production with high VG e-liquids can sometimes lead to coughing, especially if the user is not accustomed to it.

Minor Irritation: While less common than PG reactions, some users might still experience minor throat irritation with VG.

Adjusting the VG content in e-liquids can help mitigate these issues. For instance, if coughing is a problem, reducing the VG ratio or ensuring proper hydration while vaping might help.

50/50 PG/VG Blends

Many vapers find that a balanced 50/50 blend offers a compromise, reducing the likelihood of adverse reactions while still delivering a satisfying vaping experience. These blends can:

Minimise Reactions: By balancing the throat hit and vapour production, a 50/50 blend can minimise the irritation associated with both PG and VG.

Enhance Flavour and Smoothness: These blends provide a good balance of flavour delivery and smoothness, making them suitable for a wide range of vapers.

Nicotine Salts (Nic Salts)

Nicotine salts are a form of nicotine found in tobacco leaves. They are often used in e-liquids for a smoother throat hit and quicker absorption compared to freebase nicotine. Nic salts are known for their ability to deliver higher nicotine levels without the harshness associated with traditional e-liquids. However, they can still cause reactions in some users:

Headaches: Due to the higher nicotine content, some vapers may experience headaches when using nic salts, especially if they are sensitive to nicotine.

Sore Throat: Although nic salts provide a smoother hit, some individuals may still experience throat irritation, particularly if they are not used to higher nicotine levels.

Coughing: Similar to VG, the use of nic salts might lead to coughing in some users due to increased nicotine intake and vapour production.

If nic salts cause adverse reactions, switching to a freebase nicotine e-liquid or adjusting the nicotine strength can help.

Adjusting E-Liquid Ingredients for Relief

By understanding the role of PG, VG, and nic salts in e-liquids, vapers can make informed decisions to avoid allergic reactions. Here’s how adjustments can help:

Experiment with Ratios: Trying different PG/VG ratios or adjusting the nicotine type and strength can help identify the ideal balance for your body’s tolerance.

Choose Higher Quality E-Liquids: Opting for high-quality e-liquids with fewer additives can also reduce the risk of allergic reactions.

Consult with Experts: Working with knowledgeable staff at vape shops can help you find the right e-liquid composition. For example, The Vape Shop’s experienced team can guide you in selecting the best e-liquid based on your symptoms and preferences.

Remember, experiencing an allergic reaction to vaping doesn’t mean you have to stop vaping altogether. It simply means finding the right combination of ingredients that works for you, which can often be achieved through careful adjustment and consultation with experts.

By tailoring the PG/VG ratios, choosing the right nicotine type, and selecting quality e-liquids, vapers can enjoy a more comfortable and enjoyable vaping experience without the adverse effects of allergic reactions.

Working with The Vape Shop for the Right Solution

If you’re reacting allergically to vaping, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to stop entirely. The Vape Shop prides itself on being attentive to customers’ needs and helping them find the right e-liquid. By discussing your specific reactions with knowledgeable staff, you can experiment with different e-liquid compositions to find what works best for you.

For instance, if you experience headaches with nic salt e-liquids, switching to a freebase nicotine e-liquid might resolve the issue. Similarly, if high PG e-liquids cause a sore throat, trying a high VG e-liquid or a balanced 50/50 blend could provide relief.

Always Consult a Doctor

While The Vape Shop is dedicated to helping you find the right vaping solution, it’s crucial to consult a healthcare professional if you experience any adverse reactions to vaping. A doctor can provide personalised advice and ensure that your symptoms are not indicative of a more serious underlying condition.

SourceVape Blog
Sophie Turner
Sophie Turner
Sophie Turner, our Vape Health writer, has been a dedicated vaper for the last six years and is a passionate freelance writer. A fitness enthusiast who enjoys yoga and endurance cycling in her spare time, Sophie brings her enthusiasm for health and well-being into her writing for the Vape Blog. Her articles offer a unique perspective, exploring the intersection of vaping with wellness and personal growth and emphasising the importance of lifestyle balance.

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