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I think my little one is allergic to tomatoes, they get a red rash around their mouth!

Does this sound familiar? Does your little one get a red rash when they eat certain foods i.e. tomato's, strawberries, pineapple etc.

If so, this could be what we sometimes call a contact reaction.

What is a contact reaction?

A contact reaction occurs when a specific food has touched the skin causing irritation. There are foods which are more likely to effect the skin, this is usually foods that are rich in histamines or acidic.

What are foods high in histamines or acidic?

  • Tomato

  • Citrus fruits; such as oranges, satsumas, pineapple & lemon.

  • Strawberries and raspberries.

  • Foods rich in histamine such as aubergine and spinach.

It is important to remember that NOT all skin reactions when eating foods are related to a food allergy. If your little one has experienced a contact reaction it is very likely that they are NOT allergic to the food that caused the reaction.

Little one's especially have very sensitive skin and children who have eczema already have sensitive skin. So throw in some foods (acidic or high in histamines) and you are likely to get a contact reaction.

If you need reassurance as to whether or not your little one has had a contact reaction or an allergic reaction you should contact you GP and provide a photograph of your little one's reaction, but below are some differences you can look out for;

How to tell the difference between a contact reaction and an allergic reaction?

Likely to be contact reactions;

  • Localised red rash to mouth, face, neck, chin, hands, wrists- wherever food has touched.

  • High histamine foods may make your little one itchy where the food has touched

  • The redness starts to go away itself

  • Your little one will be unfazed

Unlikely to be contact reactions;

  • The redness spreads to other areas where food has not touched

  • Your little one should not be itchy on other areas of their body (unless they have eczema)

  • If the rash is raised and resembles hives

So what should you do if your little one experiences a contact reaction?

If your little one has a contact reaction this does not mean that you need to stop offering this food. You could try feeding your baby the specific food on a loaded spoon (or allow baby to feed themselves with a loaded spoon if able to without touching their own skin), however, a big part of weaning is the learning experience and unfortunately this means getting messy.

You could also change the way you present the food. What I mean by this is for example; your little one has reacted to tomato, now this could have been either tomato on its own or as a sauce used for pasta. Why not try serving tomato cut up and cooked in an omelette?

You can always choose to avoid the food however in the case of tomato this may prove more difficult compared to say spinach.

If you do want to reintroduce the food you should try the food again when your little one is well and previous contact reactions have subsided. Start with a small portion and increase the amount each time you offer the specific food. Barrier creams can also be used around the mouth before offering the food also.

If you think your little one is having an allergic reaction to a food you should not reintroduce the specific food without speaking to your healthcare professional (GP, health visitor, Dietitian) about this firstly.

If you have concerns your little one has a food allergy or is experiencing contact reactions and would like to seek help from a paediatric dietitian. Please get in touch below.

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