Red Dye AllergyRed dye allergy (also known as Red 40 Allergy) occurs to both adults and children, who are unable to digest red dye. Red dye is commonly referred to as food coloring #2, which is named carmine or cochineal extract. Another common source of red dye allergy is food coloring #40 which could be found in medicine and food. This ingredient is commonly used to preserve, prepare and put coloring to food.
Although commonly misconstrued as food allergy, red dye allergy is actually a food intolerance.
The increase of food with preservatives and other artificial ingredients, also paved way for the increase of people with red dye allergy. Kids are commonly affected because they fancy eating snacks and sweets more.
While the symptoms of red dye allergy can be treated, it's very hard to diagnose. That's because red dye allergy doesn't necessarily display visible allergic responses.
Red Dye Allergy Symptoms
Skin ReactionsJust like other types of allergies, common skin symptoms can be attributed to red dye allergy. Itchiness, redness and slight swelling of the skin are some of these symptoms. Appearance of hives, rashes and thick bumps which contain fluid are also dermal signs of red dye allergy.
Angioedema is a more severe skin reaction caused by red dye allergy. It's characterized by the swelling of the deeper layers of the skin. This might look like raised welt's on the skin's surface. Angioedema can also be seen in the tongue, eyelids and the area surrounding the face.
Gastrointestinal ProblemsAnyone who is allergic to a particular kind of food will have some type of gastrointestinal problem. In this case, red dye can cause diarrhea, bloating or give you a gassy feeling. It will usually start as a simple stomach ache. Then it can progress to a more serious digestive problem, such as vomiting and persistent excretions. Once the food with red dye has been excreted, the gastrointestinal stress will also cease.
This is why most people are wheezing, coughing or a general whistling in the chest.
Flu & Respiratory ProblemsRed dye allergy can cause certain parts of the respiratory system to swell. It's hard to diagnose people with red dye allergy, because most of the symptoms exhibited are too common. The best example of which is fever and flu. Itchiness of the throat, eyes and nose, as well as constant sneezing are also caused by red dye allergy. While these symptoms can easily be treated with antibiotics and antihistamines, the allergy can go undetected for years.
Anaphylactic ShockRed dye allergy, if left untreated, can end up becoming severe. Anaphylactic shock is the worst stage of this allergy. Its early signs are respiratory symptoms paired with swelling of the entire body. This inflammation can make it hard for someone to swallow breathe. It is treated with the injection of adrenaline or epinephrine.
Other Symptoms Of Red Dye Allergy
- Faster pulse
- Significant drop in blood pressure
- Blocked airways
- Joint pains
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of sleep
- Poor concentration
- Loss of consciousness
- ADHD (more common among children)
Sources Of Red Dye AllergyContrary to popular belief, red dye is not only found in food. The truth is, red dye allergy can come from just about anything - from food, make up and even the toothpaste you're using. Red dye is extracted from a beetle, and then used for various purposes. The following are other things that may trigger red dye allergy.
Foods & DrinksRed dye is mostly found in snacks and sweets, children's favorite snacks. This is where red dye can cause ADHD and other hyperactivity symptoms. The following are some of the food that contains red dye:
- Gummy bears
- Red candies
- Ice cream
- Chewing/bubble gum
- Grapefruit juice
Make Up / Health Care
- Eye shadow
- Cough syrup
- Tattoo- Red ink from tattoo in particular, can cause red dye allergy. This will lead to the redness, swelling and itching of the skin.
Red Dye Allergy TreatmentRed dye allergy can't be cured completely. For that reason, prevention is still better than cure. Avoiding food and cosmetics that contain carmine or red dye will save you from the stress and symptoms red dye allergy can cause.
Antihistamines and other anti-allergy medicines work on treating the symptoms of red dye allergy. For the gastrointestinal problems, it doesn't really need any treatment. The digestive problems will stop once food is excreted. Dermal problems can be treated using ointments. Those with anaphylactic shock will be given epinephrine or adrenaline. This will be injected in any large muscle like the thigh or arms.
Alternative medicine includes herbal treatment, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine. Be cautious when buying this type of medicine though. Most of them aren't proven to be effective.
Tips On Preventing Red Dye Allergy
Learn About Red Dye Allergy
- Red dye can go with different names. Red, Crimson Lake, Carmine, Carminic acid, Natural Red 4, E 120 and many more. It can even be branded as "undefined" coloring.
- Consulting a doctor will help you learn more about red dye allergy. This is important, especially if you have children.
- Ask someone you know who has red dye allergy. Information from someone with firsthand experience of this condition can help you foresee what may happen.
Always Read Labels
- Consider the names of red dye mentioned above. Carefully read the labels of food and cosmetics you want to buy. Refer to the sources mentioned previously so you can be guided.
- If you're in a drug store, ask the pharmacist if the medicine you're about to buy contains red dye. Benadryl is safe and red dye free.
Choose Healthier Options To Red Dye
- If you have children who show symptoms of red dye allergy, it's best to introduce them to healthier alternatives. Fresh meat, fruits and vegetables don't have red dye.