Food allergies are a common problem, affecting as many as 1 in 25 children. They’re more common among kids with eczema. Among children under age 5 who have eczema, as many as 30 percent may also have a food allergy.
Eczema (atopic dermatitis) causes red, dry, and itchy patches on the skin. It’s the most common chronic skin condition in children, affecting 10-20 percent of kids.
It’s no secret that what we eat has a big impact on our overall health. And while there is alot of debate about the role food allergies play in causing eczema, there is some evidence to suggest that kids with the skin condition are more likely to also suffer from some type of food allergy.
Research also suggests that eczema is a precursor to allergies. In fact, dermatologists typically advise parents of babies and children with eczema to be on the lookout for possible food allergies. A recent study of babies ages 3 months to 18 months found that even in mild cases of eczema, approximately 15 percent of the infants had been diagnosed food allergies.
An allergic reaction to food can worsen a child’s skin problems, causing hives, itching, and redness. If your child already has eczema and then suffers an allergic reaction after eating, the symptoms will compound and make your child extremely uncomfortable.
Signs and symptoms?
When your child has frequent runny noses, constant sneezing, or a tummy ache after eating certain foods, it can be tempting to dismiss these symptoms as just an allergy. In most cases, allergies are a minor annoyance without lasting health consequences. However, as the incidence and severity of allergies increases worldwide, it’s a good idea to take any evidence of allergies seriously and know when it’s time to bring it up to a doctor or get an allergy test.
Skin allergies may be also be caused by contact with an allergen like laundry soap or by food sensitivities. Some cases can lead to eczema, which, if severe, is best identified by an qualified skin allergy specialist your doctor recommends.
Seasonal allergies to pollen and seeds commonly cause red, itchy eyes, sneezing and a runny nose, and can be asthma triggers. If your child has severe allergic symptoms that interfere with his ability to be outside or go to school, you should talk to your child’s doctor about allergy testing. If a simple blood test is positive for allergies, or if further testing is needed (such as skin testing), a visit to an allergist is in order. A trained allergist specialist can help to diagnose the type of allergies your child is dealing with and administer the most effective treatment.
Hives can also be caused by contact allergens, food or even insect bites. It is a good idea to see an allergist if your child gets hives frequently or if they last for longer than six weeks, no matter what you suspect as the cause.
Food allergies occur when your child’s body has an inappropriate reaction to a harmless protein. Instead of recognising the protein as harmless, the body “sees” it as an invader, like a virus, and triggers an immune system response, which can be very serious in some cases. Food allergies can also warrant a visit to a doctor to see a allergy specialist to help identify the specific trigger foods. Once the offending foods are figured out with special allergy testing, you can eliminate them from your child’s diet. Here are the top 8 Common Food Allergies to consider when dealing with eczema and itchy skin conditions.
8 Common Food Allergies
The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Food Standards (FSANZ) Act 1991 was passed to raise allergy awareness and protect children, it identified the eight most common food allergens. These culprits account for about 90 percent of all food allergic reactions. If your toddler has a food allergy, it’s probably listed here.
1. Milk — Cow’s milk is usually the cause, but sheep’s and goat’s milks can also cause reactions. Some kids who are allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to soy milk. The best treatment for a milk allergy is to avoid it completely. Young children often — but not always — outgrow their milk allergy by the age of 3.
2. Eggs — This is one of the most common allergies, and it is the egg white that produces the allergy. Symptoms usually start within a few minutes or a few hours of eating eggs or foods containing egg.
3. Peanuts — If your toddler shows even a minor reaction to peanuts, it’s important to tell your Doctor or pediatrician. Even mild reactions can become serious with future exposure. Peanuts account for a significant proportion of severe allergic reactions.
4. Tree nuts (ex: walnuts, pecans, almonds) — Tree nut reactions can also be severe. The best form of treatment is complete avoidance. Be sure to read food labels, and take note of labeling that says “Manufactured in a plant where tree nuts are also present” in order to avoid cross contamination.
5. Soybeans — Found in foods like meat, baked goods, and cereals, soybeans and soy are common causes of allergies. Many times, reactions to soy start with soy-based infant formula. Reading food labels is key when a child has a soy allergy.
6. Wheat — Did you know wheat can be found in ketchup? And lots of other foods too, like cereal, bread, crackers, and soy sauce. Wheat allergies should not be confused with celiac disease, where the gluten protein found in wheat causes an immune system reaction in the small intestine.
7. Crustacean shellfish (ex: crab, lobster, shrimp) — Shellfish reactions can be as minor as hives and itching or severe enough to be life threatening. If you’re not sure if your toddler is allergic to shellfish, avoid it completely until you can discuss your concerns with your doctor.
8. Fish (ex: flounder, cod, bass) — Fish allergies are not the same as shellfish allergies. Kids who are allergic to fish may have reactions to some types of fish, but not to others. Some reactions can also occur simply from touching fish. Avoidance is your safest bet.
Some toddlers outgrow their food allergies. But if you have questions, talk to your Doctor or pediatrician. Reading food labels and having an allergy action plan in case of accidental exposure are of paramount importance.
How Can I Tell It’s A Food Allergies Reaction?
Food allergies cause symptoms to surface sooner than many other issues and are most often caused by a few specific foods.
If your child recently had milk, soy, eggs, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, or shellfish, your suspicion of a food allergy may be warranted because these foods account for approximately 90 percent of children’s food allergies. However, it is also important to note how long ago your child had these foods, because food allergies typically cause acute symptoms within two hours of the food being eaten, unlike food intolerances, which may cause symptoms as many as 12 hours later.
Four Symptoms Caused by Food Allergies Reaction
#1 Skin Reactions
Skin reactions, in combination with other key indicators, can also point towards an allergic reaction. An itchy skin rash, like hives or eczema, which appears scaly and may blister or peel, may be an indicator that your child is having an allergic reaction to food. Other skin reactions may include skin swelling around the eyes and lips. If the rash or swelling is significant, worsening, or covers much of your child’s body, you should seek medical care.
#2 Vomiting and Diarrhea
If your child feels sick to his or her stomach, has already vomited, has diarrhoea, or is suffering from abdominal pain, his or her body may be trying to expel the food that caused the allergy. Since gastrointestinal symptoms can be caused by a variety of factors, it is important to monitor your child’s condition and consider when and what foods they have recently eaten.
#3 Respiratory Symptoms
Food allergies may also affect your child’s respiratory system, including his or her lungs and throat. This may cause difficulty breathing and other symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing, a runny nose, or swollen lips, tongue, eyes, or face. You should seek emergency care if these symptoms result in trouble breathing or swallowing, or if your child has a short, barking cough, because he or she may be experiencing anaphylaxis.
If your child shows signs of a full-body reaction within two hours of eating an allergen, call 911 immediately. This type of reaction is called anaphylaxis, and it affects multiple organ systems, in addition to causing blood pressure to drop. It may even cause a reaction within just minutes. Symptoms such as a sense of impending doom or fear, difficulty breathing, pale skin, dizziness, lightheadedness, and loss of consciousness indicate a life-threatening emergency that needs to be treated immediately.
After the initial reaction has been treated, your doctors can help you make an appointment with an allergy specialist for diagnosis of the exact cause of the reaction, as well as proper treatment to avoid serious reactions like this in the future.
All Natural Eczema Treatment and Prevention
Does your little one does experience the itchiness and inflammation associated with eczema? While you may find temporary relief in prescription medication, preventative measures, and natural alternatives are best for long-term management. Click Here are some tips to help you prevent and treat future outbreaks.
Finding a product that works can be difficult for those with skin sensitivities, or with pre-existing conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Manuka Biotic® has formulated a natural Body Lotion and Body Wash; free from additives, parabens, and perfumes, that is ideal for moisturising and soothing your little one’s itchy skin.
Read Our Manuka Mum’s Experiences
Hear directly from a few of our lovely Manuka Mum’s sharing their experiences of using our products on their own eczema and on their little one’s eczema. Click on the names below to see their story.
Want to know more?
There’s plenty you can do to relieve symptoms if your eczema gets worse. Check out the following websites for further information and support groups on how you can treat and prevent the condition. Remember, your health provider will also be able to offer assistance with assessing and treating your symptoms.
|New Zealand||Eczema Association New Zealandhttp://eczema.org.nz
This organisation has an excellent website. A full list of eczema facts, forums, blogs, education and a support line, to help improve the lives of people living with eczema.
|Australia||Eczema Association Australasiahttp://eczema.org.au
The leading professional organisation in Australasia providing comprehensive resources and a support line, to improve the lives of people living with eczema.
|United Kingdom|| The National Eczema Societyhttp://www.eczema.org
Dedicated to the needs of people with eczema, dermatitis and sensitive skin, the organisation is an excellent source of support and information.
For further information talk to your doctor.