‘Allergy’ in simple language is an exaggerated reaction of our immunity to a substance that is otherwise harmless. Food allergy is a condition that occurs when your body cannot tolerate some specific food proteins. Common food allergy causing agents are eggs, milk, soy, peanuts, fish, wheat, etc. When an allergy-causing agent is consumed for the first time, the immune system responds to it by generating specific antibodies. However, when the same allergen is consumed again, these antibodies release histamine to fight against the allergic substance much quicker and this histamine affects the skin, respiratory system, and other systems of the body.
Skin condition due to food allergy can be in the form of skin rash or hives also known as urticaria. Urticaria are typically red, swollen, itchy and sometimes stingy too. Due to the allergic reaction, swelling may appear under the skin, known as angioedema, which is generally associated with hives, but can occur on its own too. The swelling is generally seen around the eyes and lips and at times can even affect hands, feet and throat. A severe allergic reaction is rare and is a medical emergency, as the person could go into an anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal. Anaphylactic shock is characterized by difficulty in breathing due to intense swelling within the throat along with other symptoms of allergy.
Another common skin condition associated with food allergies is eczema. There is a strong correlation between the two. It has been seen that infants with eczema have a tendency of developing food allergy later in life. Occasionally, some food items have also been known to trigger eczema. It is very difficult to pinpoint a particular food item that may be causing an allergic reaction as our diet includes varied ingredients. The doctor may advise to stay away from general allergy-causing food items so as to rule them out. In addition,a blood test can also be performed to check for levels of antibodies that can be related to specific food allergies. The doctor may perform an allergy skin test, alsocalled a scratch test, to identify the substances that are causing your allergysymptoms.
Management of skin conditions
The best treatment for food allergies is to stay away from allergy-causing food items. However, when suffering from an allergy, keep in mind that mild rashes subside on their own. Do not scratch these rashes. You can apply cold water or rub ice on hives for instant relief. Besides, oral antihistamines help in relieving itching and congestion. In case of severe reactions, corticosteroids, like prednisone, help in reducing swelling. In fatal conditions, like anaphylactic shock,an epinephrine injection should be given immediately to reverse the symptoms. In case of eczema, withdrawal of allergen alone does not help, medications and local applications are needed for complete treatment.