An allergy to red dye or Red 40 allergy can occur in both children and adults who are unable to digest red dye. It is important to note that red dye is generally called as food coloring #2 that is labeled as carmine or cochineal extract. Another prevalent source of red dye allergy is food coloring #40 that is present in food and medications. Take note that this ingredient is typically used in order to preserve, prepare and add coloring to food.
Even though commonly misinterpreted as a food allergy, red dye allergy is essentially food intolerance. The increased usage of preservatives and artificial ingredients led to an increase in the cases of red dye allergy. Children are usually affected since they tend to eat snacks and sweets more often.
Though the symptoms of red dye allergy can be managed, the condition is difficult to diagnose. This is due to the fact that red dye allergy does not necessarily display evident symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of red dye allergy
Just like with other allergies, the usual skin symptoms include redness, itchiness and minimal swelling of the skin. Other signs include hives, thick bumps that contain fluid and rashes.
In some cases, angioedema can develop which is a severe skin reaction triggered by red dye allergy. It is characterized by swelling of the deep skin layers. This might appear as elevated welts on the skin surface. It can also occur in the eyelids, tongue and area surrounding the face.
An individual who is allergic to a particular type of food will experience some type of gastrointestinal issue. When it comes to red dye allergy, the symptoms include diarrhea, bloating or gas formation. It usually starts as a stomach ache and progress to serious digestive issues such as vomiting. Once the red dye has been eliminated from the body, the gastrointestinal stress will stop.
Most of the respiratory symptoms are common such as flu and fever. Other symptoms that can occur include constant sneezing and itchiness of the eyes, throat and nose. Even though these can be managed with antihistamines and antibiotics, the allergy can go undetected for years.
If the allergy is not treated, it can become severe. Anaphylactic shock is considered life-threatening. The early signs include respiratory issues along with swelling of the whole body. The inflammation will make it difficult to breathe and swallow. In most cases, this reaction is treated with an injection of adrenaline or epinephrine.
Treatment of red dye allergy
Always bear in mind that prevention should be strictly observed. Avoidance of food and cosmetics that contain carmine or red dye can prevent triggering a reaction.
In most circumstances, antihistamines work on managing the symptoms of red dye allergy. As for the digestive issues, they usually stop once the food is eliminated from the body.