Baby food allergy rash face

Does My Baby Have A Food Allergy Rash? – Ready. Set. Food!

What is a food allergy rash, and what causes it? How do you know if your child has a food allergy rash? How to manage a food allergy rash, and how long does it usually last? We’ll cover everything families need to know about food allergy rashes in this definitive guide.

In our parent's guide to food allergy rashes, we'll answer the following most asked questions:

  • What is a food allergy rash, and what causes it?
  • How do you know if your child has a food allergy rash?
  • What are the symptoms of a mild, moderate or severe allergic reaction?
  • Where can food allergy rashes appear?
  • How to manage a food allergy rash, and how long does it usually last? 
  • How do you test for a food allergy?
  • How do you introduce allergens safely? 

We’ll cover everything families need to know about food allergy rashes in this definitive guide. 

What is a Food Allergy?

Normally, our immune systems protect our bodies from viruses, bacteria, and other foreign invaders that could harm us.

But when someone has a food allergy, their immune system mistakenly treats the proteins in a certain food (or foods) like these foreign invaders, and over-defends the body against these proteins. Their immune system makes special antibodies --- specific IgE antibodies --- that detect the food proteins and help fight them off. 

These IgE antibodies trigger symptoms of an allergic reaction whenever the person eats a food they are allergic to. For example, if someone is allergic to peanut, they have IgE antibodies that detect and fight off peanut proteins, and that trigger allergic reaction symptoms (including a possible food allergy rash) whenever they eat peanuts.

Types of Food Allergic Reactions - Mild, Moderate, and Severe

Food allergy reactions can range from mild to severe, and can sometimes be life-threatening. Keep in mind, though, that a mild reaction can sometimes become severe. Also, symptoms of a food allergy reaction can vary from reaction to reaction. So, it’s impossible to predict what symptoms your child will develop each time they have an allergic reaction to food. 

Symptoms of a food allergy reaction usually occur seconds to minutes after someone eats a food they’re allergic to, and almost always occur within a few hours of eating the food.

Symptoms of a mild or moderate allergic reaction may include:
  • A food allergy rash concentrated in one area of the body (red, raised bumps)
  • Redness in an area of the skin
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling of the face, eyes or lips
  • Itchiness
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Some stomach pain
  • Some nausea
  • Mild coughing
  • Worsening eczema
Symptoms of a severe food allergy reaction may include:
  • A food allergy rash that spreads to many areas the body
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling or tightness of the throat
  • Repeated, significant coughing
  • Wheezing/noisy breathing
  • Difficulty breathing /shortness of breath
  • Change in voice or cry
  • Struggling to vocalize
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Pale appearance
  • Diarrhea 
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Feeling floppy (infants/young children only)

Signs Of Anaphylaxis 

When the symptoms of a food allergy reaction are severe and involve more than one organ system, the reaction is classified as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. Call 911, and give epinephrine (use an Epi-Pen) immediately, if your child shows signs of anaphylaxis. 

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) provides more information on food allergy symptoms and management: 

All About Food Allergy Rashes 

A food allergy rash is the most common symptom of a food allergic reaction, especially in babies and children. It is also often the first symptom to appear (but not always). It could appear anywhere on the skin. 

What does a food allergy rash look like?

A food allergy rash is raised, very itchy, and usually red or pink. It creates red, raised bumps on the skin. These bumps are usually rounded, and often have red flares around them. They are usually called hives, but are sometimes called wheals, urticaria or nettle rash.  

In people with darker skin, a food allergy rash will also appear as raised, itchy bumps. But often, the bumps do not appear red at all, and instead have the same color as the person’s skin is normally. You also probably won’t see red flares around the bumps. (In some cases, a food allergy rash may still have a subtle red hue, or a darker red hue, when it appears on a person with brown or Black skin.)

Why do food allergies cause a rash?

When someone eats a food they’re allergic to, their IgE antibodies detect the proteins from that food. The IgE antibodies prime tissue cells (called mast cells) and blood cells to release a chemical called histamine, and other chemicals, as a way to defend against those proteins. 

When the histamine and other chemicals get released, this causes blood vessels to widen (dilate) and become leaky. Fluids get released under the skin as a result, leading to inflammation under the skin. This leads to the raised food allergy rash on the skin.

Where can food allergy rashes appear?

Food allergy rashes can be concentrated in one or two areas of the body, or can spread throughout the body.

Places that food allergy rashes often appear include the face, arms, hands, legs, feet, stomach area, and back. But they could appear anywhere on the skin.

Each individual bump (wheal) from the rash can be as small as a few millimeters or as large as several inches across. 

But a rash area may be much larger, because food allergy rash usually appears as batches or clusters of bumps. And someone could develop multiple rash areas at a time.

If a food allergy rash is concentrated in one area, the food allergy reaction is mild. But if the rash spreads to many areas of the body, this is a sign of a severe allergic reaction. 

How long does a food allergy rash last?

Like other food allergy symptoms, a food allergy rash can appear seconds to hours after someone eats a food they're allergic to.

A food allergy rash usually lasts for several hours after food allergy reaction symptoms first appear. Sometimes, it can last for up to 24-48 hours. 

Do all food allergy reactions produce a raised rash?

Even though food allergy rashes are a common allergy symptom, they may not appear during every food allergy reaction. Sometimes, a food allergy can turn areas of the skin red and/or itchy, but won’t produce the raised food allergy rash (hives).

Also, a food allergy rash is different from the rash that eczema causes. But food allergies can make eczema rashes worse (cause eczema to flare up). Learn the differences between a food allergy rash and an eczema flare-up here.

How to Manage a Food Allergy Rash

If your child develops any food allergy rash (or any other food allergy symptoms), immediately stop feeding them the food that you believe was the cause of the reaction. 

The other steps in managing a food allergy rash vary depending on how severe the allergic reaction is.


Managing a Mild Food Allergy Rash

How to manage mild food allergy rashes, concentrated in small clusters on one area of the body? 

If a doctor has explicitly recommended a dosage of antihistamine, you can give your child the antihistamine (such as Benadryl or Zyrtec) to treat mild hives. Antihistamine helps stop the release of the histamine that triggered the rash, in the case of a mild or moderate allergic reaction.

If your doctor hasn’t recommended a dosage of antihistamine, call your pediatrician or allergist to alert them about the hives, and ask about next steps.

Either way, continue to monitor your child in case their mild allergic reaction turns severe.

Hydrocortisone cream may also help to relieve the itchiness of the rash, although it won’t make the rash go away.

Managing a Severe Food Allergy Rash

If your child develops a significant food allergy rash all over their body, but no other symptoms of a food allergy reaction, call your doctor immediately.  

Continue to monitor your child for other symptoms of a food allergy reaction, because if other severe  symptoms emerge, your child will have anaphylaxis. If you have epinephrine (an Epi-Pen), give your child an injection. An antihistamine will not be able to stop this severe, widespread rash. 

If your child develops a food allergy rash all over their body, and it’s accompanied by severe symptoms in at least one other organ system, your child is experiencing life-threatening anaphylaxis and needs emergency assistance.

Inject epinephrine (an Epi-Pen) immediately, and call 911. Epinephrine is the only medicine that can stop anaphylaxis --- antihistamines cannot stop this severe reaction.  

A Note About Food Allergic Reactions and Children

Many people wonder about the differences between food allergy reactions in children vs. adults. 


Food allergy rash is one of the most common food allergy symptoms in children and adults. The way it appears in every age group is also largely the same. In fact, food allergies generally cause the same set of symptoms in children as they do in adults. 

But even though food allergies cause similar symptoms across all age groups, the most common types of food allergies are different in children vs. adults. 

In young children (5 years of age and younger), cow’s milk, egg, and peanut allergies are the most common food allergies. According to one study by Dr. Ruchi Gupta, these three foods are responsible for around 80% of food allergies in young children. 

In addition to milk, egg, and peanut allergies, tree nut allergies are also very common in children age 14 and under. 

Out of these four food types, peanut and tree nut allergies are most responsible for severe reactions in children, but any food has the potential to cause a severe reaction.

In contrast, the most common food allergy in adults is shellfish allergy, which is largely an adult allergy. Finned fish allergies are another common adult allergy --- and finned fish allergies also tend to develop in adulthood.  

Check out our previous article for more on food allergies in children vs. adults.

Food Allergy Testing

If your child develops a rash after they eat a certain food, and it looks similar to the food allergy rash we’ve described above, remember that food allergy testing is the only way to determine whether your child truly has a food allergy. So, it’s best to make an appointment with an allergist for testing. 

Food allergies can be diagnosed through three types of tests: a skin prick test, a blood test, and an oral food challenge. 

A skin prick test: An allergist pricks your child’s forearm  with a needle containing food protein from the suspected problem food. Then, they monitor your child to see if an allergic reaction develops around the area where their skin was pricked.

A blood test: An allergist checks your child’s blood for IgE antibodies that respond to certain food proteins.

An oral food challenge: Your child eats small amounts of  the suspected problem food under an allergist’s supervision, to see if they develop an allergic reaction. This is the most accurate way to diagnose a food allergy.

Introducing Allergens Safely

New clinical guidelines recommend introducing babies to common allergy-causing foods during their first year of life, as a way to help them safely enjoy these foods in the future. 

As the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends in their new dietary guidelines, “Potentially allergenic foods (e.g., peanuts, egg, cow milk products, tree nuts, wheat... and soy) should be introduced when other complementary foods are introduced to an infant’s diet.” 

Ready, Set, Food! can help you easily and safely introduce these common allergy-causing foods to baby, following the new clinical guidelines. And since the first two stages of our system fully dissolve into a bottle of breastmilk or formula, you can start introducing your baby to peanut, egg, and milk as early as 4 months of age, even before they’re ready for solids.

All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  

See the FDA Peanut Allergy Qualified Health Claim at the bottom of our homepage.

Does My Baby Have a Food Allergy Rash? — Prevent Food Allergies

Managing Food Allergies

Written By Jannie Huang

Do you think your baby’s rash may be caused by a food allergy? Let’s look at how to identify and treat a food allergy rash.

What is a Food Allergy Rash?

A food allergy rash is a rash that is caused by an overreaction of our immune systems to a particular food. Our immune systems are there to protect us from bacteria, viruses, and other invasions that can cause sickness. As is the case with other types of allergies, a food allergy occurs when the body reacts to an otherwise harmless item, wreaking havoc in our systems. With food allergies, the IgE antibodies overreact to a particular food(s), and a rash is often the first symptom to form.

How do IgE Antibodies Cause a Rash? 

IgE antibodies detect the food and release histamine into the bloodstream to offer protection from the otherwise harmless food. In the process, blood vessels widen and release fluid which causes inflammation under the skin. A raised rash is the result, leaving the baby uncomfortable and the parents wondering what caused it and where to go from here. 

Identifying a Food Allergy Rash

One of the most common signs your baby may have a food allergy is a rash that appears shortly after eating the offending food. It is often the first symptom to appear, the most common symptom of a food allergy, and can appear anywhere on the skin. 

A food allergy often presents itself in the form of hives. Food allergy rashes often are concentrated in a couple areas on the body but can spread to other areas, especially in the case of a more severe food allergy. The individual bumps are often small in size, but they cluster together to form larger areas that may look like one larger rash. 

In some cases, a food allergy can cause the skin to become red and inflamed without actually causing an actual raised rash. Food allergies can also cause eczema to become worse. Though worsening eczema is not a rash, it is important to watch this type of symptom closely since it is often associated with food allergies.

Though a rash may be the only symptom, one of the best ways to identify food allergy rashes is to pay attention to other signs that might accompany them. These signs will almost always occur within a few hours of eating the food. If you notice any of the following symptoms, along with a rash, contact your doctor to help determine if a food allergy might be the cause. 

Mild Food Allergy Symptoms

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Swelling 

  • Sneezing

  • Congestion

  • Stomach pain

  • Itchy, watery eyes

  • Coughing 

  • Worsening eczema 

  • Swelling of the tongue

  • Tightness of the throat

  • Coughing 

  • Wheezing

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Paleness of skin

  • Fainting

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Loss of consciousness


Anaphylactic reactions are rare in babies under the age of one, but it is good to be aware of the symptoms. Anaphylaxis is a swift, intense allergic reaction that is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child, seek medical help right away:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Shortness of breath

  • Swelling of the tongue

  • Widespread hives, covering a large part of the body

  • Wheezing

  • Pale appearance

  • Fainting

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Persistent coughing

How to Treat a Food Allergy Rash

A food allergy rash actually doesn’t last very long, oftentimes clearing up in less than 48 hours. It is important to keep track of what your baby ate prior to the rash forming so that you can revisit your list should another rash appear later. You may also want to start a food journal and continue to keep track of what your child eats in the coming weeks and months. This can help you determine if there are other allergies.  

Even though rashes often go away on their own, they can be itchy and uncomfortable. Thankfully, there are some things that can provide relief. 

Treating a Mild Food Allergy Rash

If your baby has a small rash that is confined to one area of his body and you suspect it was caused by food, you are most likely dealing with a mild food allergy. One of the best ways to treat a rash is with an antihistamine. Antihistamines block the histamine response, which helps clear up the rash. Be sure to ask your doctor about types and dosage before administering antihistamines to your baby. 

You can also apply hydrocortisone cream to the area which will help relieve the itchiness. Hydrocortisone cream will not cause the rash to go away but can provide some relief.

Continue to monitor your baby in case the mild reaction turns severe. 

Treating a Severe Food Allergy Rash

If your baby develops a widespread rash all over his body shortly after eating, you should call your doctor immediately. He could be experiencing an allergic reaction that can become life threatening if not treated right away. Continue to monitor your baby as you make your way to your doctor so you can inform the staff of other symptoms. 

More About Food Allergies

Food allergies can develop at any time, though it is more rare to develop a food allergy late in life. Usually, they are detected early in childhood, when the child reacts to a certain food. As noted previously, often the first sign of a food allergy is a rash. If you suspect your child has developed a rash as a result of a food allergy, you may want to learn more about allergies and how to proceed safely. 

Learn more from the Mayo Clinic on food allergic reactions:

YouTube Video: Mayo Clinic Minute: What happens to your body when you're allergic to food?

Allergies in Children vs in Adults

Both adults and children alike develop food allergies, though what they become allergic to often varies. Children are more likely to be allergic to cow’s milk, eggs, and peanuts, or tree nuts whereas the most common food allergens for adults is shellfish and finned fish. In either case, both adults and children are likely to develop a rash after eating an offending food. 

Peanut and tree nut allergies are more likely to cause serious reactions than the other allergies, but any allergy can become severe at any time.

Getting Tested for Food Allergies

The only way to determine if your child’s rash was caused by a food allergy is to make an appointment to undergo food allergy testing. Once you have talked to your doctor about possible causes for the rash and applied any acute medical care needed, you should make an appointment for your child to get tested for food allergies. There are a few ways this is done. You and your doctor will work together to determine the best testing for your child. 

  • Oral Food Challenge

In this method of diagnosing a food allergy, your doctor will give your baby a small amount of the suspected food and watch him closely to see if he develops an allergic reaction. An oral food challenge is a safe, accurate method when used under the direct supervision of a doctor. This is the most accurate way to determine a true food allergy. 

  • Skin Prick Test

During this test, your doctor will prick your child’s skin with the suspected allergen and watch to see if a rash develops around the area. Since a food allergy rash is often the first symptom of an allergy, this is a fairly accurate way to see if your child is allergic to a specific food. 

  • Blood Test

When your child undergoes blood testing for allergies, your doctor will check for IgE antibodies in the blood. The presence of these antibodies will indicate an allergy to a specific food or variety of foods. 

The Bottom Line

If your child develops a rash shortly after eating, you should take note of the suspected food and stop feeding to your child right away. You may want to start a food journal to monitor your child’s food intake and any potential rashes or other symptoms that might arise.  

If the rash is mild and limited to one small part of the child’s body, you can treat it with antihistamines or with topical hydrocortisone cream after first discussing treatment options and dosages with your child’s doctor. If your child develops a major rash that is widespread, you should contact your doctor immediately and watch for signs of anaphylaxis.  

Talking to your doctor about the rash is important both in the treatment of the rash and in discovering the cause. If you and your doctor think a food may be the cause of your child’s rash, you should continue to keep the suspected food away from your child and schedule allergy testing. There are a few different tests your doctor may use to determine if your child has a food allergy

Discovering your child has a food allergy can be a scary time for parents, but there are many ways to manage food allergies in children. Learning more about food allergies, their causes, signs, and symptoms, and management are all ways parents can be prepared.  


All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  

See the FDA Peanut Allergy Qualified Health Claim at the bottom of our homepage.

Jannie Huang

how it manifests itself, what it looks like, what to do, how long it takes for a newborn to be allergic to formula

We deal with the signs of intolerance to baby food and answer the question of what to do if the baby has an allergy to infant formula.

Nutrition for babies in the first year of life if breastfeeding is not possible should be prescribed by a pediatrician. He will definitely ask about the presence of allergies in parents and close relatives, ask about how the pregnancy went, did the mother take antibiotics, does the mother have bad habits. These are all risk factors for food allergies in babies.

How infants are allergic to formula

The reaction to an allergen manifests itself through different body systems. Here are the symptoms of a food allergy:

  • On the skin : redness that starts on the face and spreads throughout the body, small blisters, peeling
  • From the digestive system : regurgitation fountain, loose stools, especially green, constipation, bloating, colic
  • From the side of the respiratory system : shortness of breath, cough, wheezing

How long does it take to become allergic to the mixture

How quickly the disease will make itself felt depends on the characteristics of the child's health. In some babies, the first signs of allergies occur immediately after feeding. In others, the allergen will manifest itself only after a few days, when it accumulates in the body. In any case, you should immediately contact a specialist who will diagnose and prescribe adequate treatment.

Allergy to hypoallergenic mixture

Hydrolyzed mixtures are called hypoallergenic - those where the milk protein is split into amino acids and peptides, which are easily absorbed by the body and in most cases do not cause an undesirable reaction. They are prescribed in cases of severe allergies. They are bitter, and babies are reluctant to eat them.

However, an undesirable reaction can also occur on a hypoallergenic mixture. That is why only a pediatrician should recommend the mixture and select treatment in case of an allergy.

Why are babies allergic to formula?

The reasons are different. A doctor and tests will help to deal with them.

The most common of the reasons:

  • temporary or congenital lactase deficiency. The tests prescribed by the pediatrician will help to establish this reason. And treatment can be a temporary or permanent transition to a lactose-free mixture, such as soy. How to recognize lactase deficiency, read the article of our pediatrician.
  • allergy to animal protein - casein. After passing the analysis, the doctor will recommend replacing the mixture with soy or hydrolyzed. Read more about lactase deficiency and cow protein allergy in our article.
  • incorrect transition to artificial feeding or a new mixture. Learn how to change the mixture so as not to harm the baby's body.
  • rotavirus infection. This is a temporary, but rather acute condition, during which the child needs special nutrition. Learn more about nutrition during rotavirus.
  • excess food. This is the most common cause of allergic dermatitis in artificial babies who cannot regulate the amount of formula they eat. Why this happens, find out from our material.
  • formula is not suitable for your baby. Children prone to allergies may react to the composition of improved mixtures enriched with vitamins and trace elements. How to understand what exactly caused the allergy? It is necessary to pass tests and follow the advice of a pediatrician to switch to a suitable mixture.

What to do

Regardless of whether treatment is required, a reduction in the volume of the mixture eaten or a transition to a new diet, the appointment should be made by a doctor.

Therefore, the first thing to do is to contact a pediatrician who will establish the cause, possibly offer to take tests and prescribe treatment.

Soy mixtures for allergies

Soy infant formula is prescribed for allergies to animal protein - casein. And in the absence of allergies to soy. Therefore, if the doctor has prescribed an analysis for an allergy to animal protein, ask if it is worth immediately taking an analysis for a reaction to soy protein.

Soy nutrition is an absolutely complete replacement for dairy nutrition until the transition to adult food.

Pay attention to soy mixtures Materna, made in Israel. They do not contain GMOs, salt and sugar and are suitable for newborns.

Fermented milk mixtures for allergies

Fermented milk mixtures belong to the category of medicinal. They are enriched with live bacteria that help digest food and absorb nutrients.

Only a pediatrician can recommend the use of a fermented milk mixture. As a rule, the baby is not completely transferred to such a diet, but several feedings a day are replaced by them. Do this for a limited period of time while bowel function is restored.

How long does an allergy last

With adequately selected treatment, you will notice an improvement in 5-7 days. Symptoms may persist for up to a month. The prognosis for your particular case can only be given by a pediatrician who knows the history of the baby.

Trust the treatment of your kids only to professionals and let your kids be healthy!
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Allergy to the mixture: how quickly it manifests itself, which mixture is better

09/23/2019 Reading time: 5 min