We speak of foods that can cause skin allergy when foods or ingredients such as colourants and preservatives provoke allergic symptoms. In the event of an allergic result, the body produces an abnormal amount of antibodies against these products.
The most common foods that can provoke serious reactions are nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruit, but also milk and wheat. Some medicines, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and medicines for high blood pressure, and alcohol can play a role in the development of an allergic reaction to food.
People with pollen or pollen allergies have a greater chance of also reacting allergically to foods. This is because both the food and the pollen contain proteins that are related to each other. We call this phenomenon cross-allergy. For example, someone with an allergy to birch pollen (birch pollen allergy) has a greater chance of being allergic to fruit, tubers, legumes and nuts.
HOW OFTEN IS IT?
3 to 4% of all adults have a food allergy. Studies show that 20% of people avoid certain foods because they suffer from complaints. However, this does not always mean that they have an allergy. In those cases, it is called a pseudo-allergy.
Most people have had complaints since childhood, but an allergy can also start in adulthood.
HOW CAN YOU RECOGNIZE IT?
A foods that can cause skin allergy can provoke both local and general complaints. Oral allergy syndrome (OAS) is common. Eating raw fruit and vegetables cause itching in the mouth and sometimes swelling of the throat. Especially people who are also allergic to trees (birch) suffer from it.
In addition, gastrointestinal complaints are often at the forefront, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
In rare cases, an extreme, life-threatening reaction may occur (anaphylactic shock) with a fall in blood pressure, breathing difficulties and an itchy skin rash. Sometimes such a reaction is caused by the combination of a food allergy and physical activity. The reaction will only occur if you make a physical effort within 4 hours of taking food.
Pre-existing, other allergic symptoms can, therefore, be exacerbated, such as asthma, hay fever or rash (eczema).
HOW DOES YOUR DOCTOR DETERMINE THE CONDITION?
Your doctor will first and foremost very accurately ask which foods provoke the symptoms, which complaints you have and how bad they are, after how much time they occur and how long they last. He will also check whether you have other allergies and whether there is an allergy in the family.
The most important additional examination is the skin prick test. Droplets of liquid containing suspicious food are applied to the skin. The skin is pierced through the drop with a fine needle. In the case of allergies, a red, sometimes itchy, swelling appears after about 15 minutes. If this test is not available, a blood test will be carried out with the determination of specific antibodies against the suspect foods. If you suspect a cross allergy, you will also be tested for pollen allergy.
It is possible that you respond to a test while you have no complaints when eating the tested food. Then we are talking about a non-significant allergy. This means that you are allergic, but this has no importance for your diet. You can, therefore, safely eat the food in question.
WHAT CAN YOU DO YOURSELF?
Avoid foods that provoke complaints. It may be useful to note down for a while what you have eaten to find out which ingredient is causing you problems. If the symptoms are serious or if you do not know what you are allergic to, you should first have it tested. Certain food components cannot tolerate, after all, is by no means always allergy. For example, irritable bowel or a difficult tolerance of lactose or gluten can elicit the same type of symptoms, while there is no allergy.
WHAT CAN YOUR DOCTOR DO?
If it is not known which food provokes the symptoms and the symptoms are not too serious, the doctor sometimes suggests an elimination diet. A number of foods are then omitted from the diet. If the complaints disappear with this, they are added to the diet one by one. The product with which the complaints occur again is probably the culprit.
For mild forms of allergy, your doctor may prescribe an anti-allergic medicine. With severe symptoms, the doctor sometimes gives a single dose of cortisone or a short cortisone cure.
People who have ever had a severe life-threatening reaction (anaphylactic shock) must always carry an adrenaline syringe. This allows them to inject themselves should the situation arise again. The pharmacist will explain how it works. Your doctor will also guide you whether treatment for a concomitant pollen allergy may be useful.