Photos of Common Food Allergy Symptoms

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Hives (Urticaria) on a Child

Hives may appear on any part of the body. A.D.A.M.

Food allergies can produce symptoms that affect the skin, stomach, airways, eyes, or your entire body. The photos in this image gallery illustrate some of the common skin reactions that food allergies may cause, including hives, eczema, itchy, reddened eyes (allergic conjunctivitis), swelling of the lips, and abdominal pain.

Sources:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Hives (Urticaria) fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Eye (Ocular) Allergy Symptoms fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

American Academy of Dermatology. Atopic dermatitis fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

American Academy of Dermatology. Hives fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

National Eczema Foundation. Food Allergies and Eczema fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

National Eczema Foundation. Triggers of Eczema fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

National Institutes of Health Medline Plus. Food Allergies: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Prevention and Treatment. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

National Library of Medicine. Allergic Conjunctivitis fact sheet. Accessed. Feb. 1, 2016.

National Library of Medicine. Angioedema fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

National Library of Medicine. Hives fact sheet. Accessed Feb. 1, 2016.

Hives are a common symptom of food allergies, and can appear anywhere on your body. They're especially likely in people who have allergies to peanuts, eggs, nuts and shellfish, although they can occur in any type of food allergy.

When you're getting hives, you might first feel itching in a patch of skin. Then, raised, usually itchy bumps can appear. These bumps, which are called wheals and have obvious edges, may be the color of your normal skin, or they may appear red.

When you press the center of a wheal, it will turn white, which is called "blanching."

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Hives (Urticaria) on an Adult

American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology
Hives may spread and move around the body. Urticaria on adult back

When you have hives, the wheals can appear, change shape, and disappear very quickly. Hives don't always itch, but most do feel itchy.

Generally speaking, hives aren't life-threatening — they're just annoying and uncomfortable. However, if you get hives that are accompanied by swelling around your lips, face or eyes, or if you're suddenly having trouble breathing, you may be having a serious allergic reaction, and you should seek medical help fast.

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Eczema on Ankles and Feet

Scratching at itchy eczema can lead to infection or thickening of the skin. A.D.A.M.

Eczema is an itchy, scaly, rash that may be caused by food allergies, especially in very young children. When you have eczema, your skin is inflamed, and develops dry patches that flake off.

Foods that commonly trigger eczema include dairy, nuts, wheat, soy, and eggs. Touching the allergic food and eating it both can cause skin reactions.

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Infant with Extremely Itchy Eczema

Eczema can be extremely itchy. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

Food allergies aren't the only possible triggers for eczema -- sometimes, the skin condition is caused by something you're using on your skin, or by something in the air, such as cat dander.

Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, often appears in a baby's first year, often on the face, cheeks or around the mouth. Doctors recommend wrapping babies to prevent them scratching at their eczema, since the condition is incredibly itchy, and scratching can lead to infection.

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Itchy, Watery, Swollen Eyes (Allergic Conjunctivitis)

Red, itchy, watering, swelling eyes are one symptom of food allergies. A.D.A.M.

Some people with allergies suffer from itchy, watery, swollen eyes. This condition is called allergic conjunctivitis, and although it's more common with pollen in the air than it is with food, it's also possible to get these swollen eyes from food allergies.

An anaphylactic reaction can include this allergy symptom, so if you experience itchy, swollen eyes in concert with other symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as trouble breathing, you should seek emergency medical attention.

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Adult Male with Angioedema of the Lips

Angioedema: Swelling of the lips, mouth, and/or tongue. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

Angioedema is swelling of the lips, mouth, or the tongue under the skin. It's similar to hives but occurs under the skin, and it can be a sign of any anaphylactic reaction resulting from food allergies or other forms of allergy.

Food allergies that have been linked with this symptom include berries, fish, shellfish, nuts, milk and eggs.

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Abdominal Pain in Food Allergy

Woman holding stomach
Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea are symptoms of food allergies. Tom Le Goff / Getty Images

Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea within two hours of eating — or often within minutes of consuming a problematic food — can be signs of a food allergy. The "big eight" allergens — eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat and soy — account for about 90% of food allergy reactions.

The digestive symptoms of food allergy are easy to confuse with digestive symptoms from food intolerances. However, a true food allergy usually involves your skin and respiratory system along with your digestive system.

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