Food Allergens in Unexpected Places Part 1

Jamie Martin Health Guide
  • If you have a child with food allergies, you immediately know you're going to have to constantly monitor what your child eats.  What you may not realize is that food allergens can show up in places other than food products.  If your child has a food allergy, they don't necessarily have to ingest (or eat) the allergen to have an allergic reaction; direct skin contact may be all it takes.  There are many ways your child may come into contact with a food allergens other than at the dinner table, and I'm going to discuss a few examples in this blog.


    Food Allergies and Cosmetics

    Most people don't realize that many of the lotion and bath products meant for children, and some for adults, have milk and oat proteins in them as a softening agent.  So check the labels on all shampoos, lotions, baby ointments and soaps before you use them.  The cosmetic industry also likes to use milk, fish oils, wheat and oat by-products in things like lipsticks and face-powders.  So if your little girl likes to play dress-up and put on make-up, or if your older daughter is about to start wearing make-up for real, then you'll need to check the ingredient list to see what's in it.  Also check labels on make-up removers to make sure they don't contain allergens. 

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    Another cosmetic related item where teen-age girls, and women, with food allergies should always read the label is exfoliants.  Many of the facial scrubs on the market use finely ground nut shells as the abrasive to remove dead skin.  Also, if you have a food-allergic teenaged daughter and she wants you to give her a trip to the spa as a special occasion gift, make sure you call ahead and find out exactly what type of products they'll be using.  So many of these spas advertise the use of "all-natural" ingredients in their beauty treatments, which, most of time, is code for food by-products.  I've seen advertisements for spa treatments that list ingredients like nut and seed oils, or moisturizers made from caviar and cream.  Make sure the spa understands about your daughter's allergy and what types of products they can't use on her.  Also, if you won't be accompanying your daughter, make sure she understands there could be allergens in the products and have her remind the spa worker to check the label before they apply anything to her skin.


    Food Allergies and Vaccines

    Vaccines are another place where food allergens can hide.  Before your child is given a vaccine, particularly the flu shot, make sure you remind the nurse or doctor about your child's allergies.  My daughter has never had a flu shot because it contains egg protein.  This is something I would never have thought about and I'm very grateful for the nurse at my allergist's office for telling me not to get Meredith this particular vaccine.


    My next blog post will be about common allergens in processed foods.  While you should always check the ingredients label on all food products, I'll give you some tips about seemingly straightforward food products that may actually have hidden allergens.


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    See also:


    Finding Hidden Food Allergies


    All About the "Big 8" Food Allergies

Published On: June 04, 2008