We received a message over the weekend from a concerned mum in the US who had noticed a rash on her son’s arms and wondered if it could be related to a food allergy. Unfortunately, there’s no straightforward answer to this question.
Please note: whilst a baby food allergy can certainly cause a rash, it is very important to check ANY rash with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis. On rare occasions, a rash may indicate a serious condition requiring prompt medical treatment.
It’s actually very difficult to categorically state that a particular rash is a result of an allergy to food, as food allergies can cause different types of rashes.
For example, some babies develop eczema-like rashes in response to eating certain foods. Although the link between eczema and food allergy is still being studied, we hear from many parents whose little ones experience eczema flare ups after eating certain foods – particularly wheat and dairy based foods. (You can read more about the possible connection between food allergy and eczema here).
Some babies, however, experience hives after eating certain foods. Hives look like raised welts, either red or white in colour, and they can appear anywhere on the body. They vary in size and shape and might be itchy, but they don’t always cause discomfort (although they may look awful!). By themselves, hives aren’t considered to be an emergency, but you still need to discuss their appearance with your child’s doctor, of course, and seek his/her advice about continuing to offer foods that may trigger them.
Other baby food allergy rashes may appear around the mouth (although these are often caused by acidity or another irritant in the food, rather than an actual allergy). Rashes may also appear elsewhere on the face and may sometimes look scaly in appearance – these types of rashes can be very itchy.
Given the fact that there are many types of rash associated with food allergy or sensitivity, it’s certainly not easy to pinpoint if your baby is reacting to food, or if the problem is something else altogether!
Photos of Baby Rashes
Aside from a consultation with a doctor, a resource that we find helpful in ruling out certain conditions is the Common Childhood Skin Problems Slideshow from webmd.com. It has really clear photos of the rashes caused by conditions like chicken pox, ringworm and prickly heat, plus short but concise descriptions of each problem and how it’s usually treated.