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Tell me about contact allergies in relation to food

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My 8 month old DS has mild to moderate eczema that I believe may be food related, although I have not been able to pinpoint exactly what foods he is sensitive to with just doing an elimination diet. He is breastfed and eats some solids, although I have been pretty careful about introducing him to new things gradually to watch for reactions. For a while I was under the impression that we'd gotten the eczema mostly under control and that it was probably more of a food sensitivity issue than actual allergy.


But now I'm wondering about contact allergies and how they relate to actual food allergies. I tried some baby cereal with DS a couple weeks ago that contained, among other things, wheat. He had eaten a bit of cracker and little bite of wheat bread of different occasions, without any reaction that I can recall. But this time was different...while I was still feeding him, every place on his skin the cereal had touched, he broke out in an itchy rash. I immediately bathed him and put ointment on it, and it went away within an hour. The same thing has also happened with yogurt on a couple of occasions (the first time, I didn't realize it was the yogurt, though.) So, to be on the safe side, I've eliminated dairy and wheat products from my diet (and his, obviously) until I can discuss this with our Ped. The thing is, I didn't notice any other reactions that would indicate a food allergy, as in swelling around the mouth/eyes or mucousy stools, etc.


Can you have a contact allergy to foods without being allergic to eating them? I spoke to a close friend who has lived with nut, fish and egg allergies, and she thought it sounded strange...but she also urged caution since he is just a baby and can't really tell us what else he may be feeling.


I am just at a loss right now because I have done so many rounds of elimination without any conclusive results...I really would like to have him tested for allergies, but I know that can be rather unreliable at his age. I just wish I could know for sure that I am doing what is best for my baby and quit always second guessing everything I put into both our mouths!

post #2 of 8
Thread Starter 

BTW, I am also currently avoiding (and have been for months) peanut products, all citrus and strawberries, plus just went back to avoiding all legumes after seeing DS's eczema worsen when I started eating lots of beans again. Man, when I list all the things I'm not eating, I get really hungry! Time to go find a snack! :p

post #3 of 8
Originally Posted by Lemoncello View Post


Can you have a contact allergy to foods without being allergic to eating them? 

My first thought is "no" but I don't know that definitively.  

     There is such a thing as a contact allergy, called "dermographism".  It is a condition where the body produces histamine when the skin is touched.  Both my oldest daughter and I have this.  In summer when she was an infant I could leave bright red hand prints on her just by picking her up!  Allergists know about this and look at the severity of it because it can skew the test results of a skin tests a bit.  

     But if it were that, you'd see it with all kinds of foods. If dairy and wheat stand out, I would assume that you are just not seeing what's going on inside.  It could be what you are seeing is a mild allergy, or the beginning of one that will get worse.  From the baby's point of view, no big deal, the world is still full of lots of yummy things to eat.  To you I extend my sympathies.  Elimination is hard, especially when you are not the one being affected.  


post #4 of 8

Sounds like oral allergy syndrome. You can have a skin reaction to contact with a fruit or veggie but be fine eating it. I get it from butternut squash. The way it was explained to me is that those of us with pollen allergies can have a cross reaction from handling foods that are genetically related to our allergen. I'm not sure which of my allergens causes mine as I'm mostly allergic to tree pollens, but also chenopods which are a desert weed. 

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Well, as I've researched this topic more, I am quite positive it is not oral allergy syndrome...my husband has the symptoms of this with kiwi and strawberries, however, so I have stayed away from them just in case little J is also allergic.


Actually, I've come across a whole bunch of documents at PubMed.gov summarizing various studies that doctors have done regarding infants/young children with eczema (atopic dermatitis) and food allergies. It is all very interesting reading, and I have found some references to the same type of reaction my DS had to yogurt and wheat. Apparently it is not all that uncommon for children with food allergies to have what they call "food immediate-contact hypersensitivity" resulting in hives or an eczema flare-up when the food they are allergic to is applied to the skin in the same form in which it is eaten. So, this being the case, I am thinking that J is almost definitely allergic to consuming these foods as well. Armed with all my new-found knowledge (very dangerous, eh!?) I will be definitely be discussing food allergies and what the next step is when I take DS in for his 9mo check-up next week!

post #6 of 8

So you are saying the child has a skin reaction but nothing more WITH ingestion? No GI issues?  No breathing issues?  Nothing else?

If that is what you are saying, I would thing you have a child with sensitive skin.  Not that I wouldn't watch for more but I wouldn't be overly worried.  Also, just cause your DH is allergic to something doesn't mean that your child would be allergic to the same things.  If a parent has ANY allergy (food or environmental) the child has a higher chance of having an allergy but not necessarily to the same thing. 

Also, from my time on the research bus, eczema is about 80% of the time not food related.  If you are worried about a true allergy, I would go to an allergist.  Peds have pretty limited allergy knowledge in most cases.

Good luck!

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Well, I don't know for sure if I'm seeing other symptoms or not. He did seem to have a really stuffy nose after the wheat incident, but I hesitate because that could have been from being fussy and crying a bit, too. I have seen a very small amount of mucous in his diaper on several occasions (like a pea-sized amount), but that has always been a pretty delayed reaction...so it's difficult to tell. He does get constipated easily, in fact we are dealing with that right now, even though I cannot say what is causing it at this point. Really, I have alot more questions than answers, which is why I am going to talk with our doc next week. I do intend to see an allergist, but I want to talk to our ped. first and have him on the same page. Besides, I would like to know who he would refer us to as well.

post #8 of 8

Have you kept a very detailed food log?  Many times that has been key for us!  (We deal with Celiac, peanut, tree nut, dairy, egg and a few others for good measure!)  We figured out thngs like coconut cross reacting with palm oil through food logs and some other too.  It really was a very important tool for us. 

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