The Egg Allergy Diet Guide

How to Be Healthy and Egg-Free. Influx Productions/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children, coming in second to milk allergy. Egg allergy occurs in about 1-2% of all children in the US and diagnosis is typically before age 2. Odds are that 80% of children with egg allergy will see this allergy resolve by age 5, although more recent studies indicate about half of children will still have an egg allergy at age 10.

By the teen years, most kids will have outgrown their egg allergy.

Eggs are not a major food allergen for adults, but some will develop an egg allergy as an adult. Only about 0.1% of adults are allergic to eggs and this is usually from a persistent childhood allergy.

Symptoms of Egg Allergy

Symptoms associated with an egg allergy occur fairly quickly. Most individuals will react within minutes to two hours after eating foods made with egg.

Symptoms may include:

  • Skin reactions such as rash, hives or eczema.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis (itchy, red, watery eyes)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Airway symptoms including wheezing, coughing, or a runny nose.
  • Swelling, also known as angioedema, of the lips, tongue, or face.
  • Severe reactions, called anaphylaxis, may occur, causing multiple organ systems to be involved. Anaphylaxis is an emergency and requires immediate medical treatment.

To prevent an allergic reaction to egg, all individuals with egg allergy should avoid all eggs and products made with eggs.

Diagnosing Egg Allergy

Diagnosis of an egg allergy may be accomplished several different ways. The skin-prick test is done when a small amount of liquid containing egg protein is placed on the back or forearm, which is then pricked with a small, sterile probe to allow the liquid to seep into the skin.

A raised, reddish spot or blotch that forms within 15 to 20 minutes may indicate an egg allergy. 

In the blood test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory to test for the presence of immunoglobulin E antibodies (the immune system response that signals a sensitivity) to egg protein.

If these tests aren’t conclusive, your allergist may order an oral food challenge. With this test, you will eat a small amount of egg to see if a reaction develops. Of course, this test is done under medical supervision due to the risk of a reaction.

Last, a food elimination diet also may be used to determine if an allergy is present. This involves eliminating certain foods that are suspected to cause food allergy. If symptoms disappear when eggs are removed and then reappear when eggs are eaten again, an egg allergy is likely.

Treatment for Egg Allergy

Avoidance of egg and products made with egg is the gold standard for treatment of an egg allergy. The egg white contains the allergenic proteins, but because the egg yolk and egg whites are housed together, individuals should avoid the whole egg.

Approximately 70% of people with egg allergy can tolerate small amounts of egg in baked products like cake or cookies. This is due to the process of baking, when heat alters the egg protein so that it is less allergenic. Simply baking an egg isn’t the same; in baked foods the amount of egg exposure is diluted among other ingredients.

Eggs are hidden in many food products, including canned soups, salad dressings, ice cream and many meat-based dishes, such as meatballs and meatloaf. Even some commercial egg substitutes contain egg protein. As a result, people with an egg allergy must be vigilant about reading labels and asking about the ingredients of foods prepared by others.

Exposure to egg and a subsequent allergic reaction requires treatment. This may involve treatment with antihistamines and/or epinephrine.

While scientists are looking for a cure, none exist at this time. Immunotherapy for egg allergy is one area of research in this endeavor.

How to Avoid Egg

As mentioned, all eggs must be eliminated from the diet to avoid an allergic reaction. Equally important is to avoid all foods made with egg, like baked goods, and other products that use egg in their production such as crackers, cereals, baked goods, and more. Hidden egg can be a surprise, so avoid accidentally consuming egg by reading the ingredient label on food products, package labeling, and/or check with the manufacturer for definitive ingredient inclusions.

For egg allergic babies who are breastfeeding, moms should avoid egg in their diet, as the egg proteins pass through breastmilk to the baby and may trigger symptoms.

If egg is included in a product regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the manufacturer is required to list “egg” on the product label. The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) is the legislation that requires manufacturers to list egg as a potential allergen ingredient for the consumer. Not only will you find this information in the ingredient list, but it will also be on the package.

Products may also contain advisory labeling with statements such as “may contain egg” or “this product has been made in a facility that also produces egg.” While this labeling is not regulated, you should still avoid products with these statements, especially if you are very sensitive to egg.

If you are unsure about the contents of a product, there are two things you can do: call the manufacturer and inquire about the specific ingredients contained in the product, and/or skip eating the product.


People who have an allergy to hen's eggs are generally allergic to the eggs of other birds, such as goose or quail. It is very rare (but possible) to be allergic to one type of egg but not others. If you have a severe egg allergy and you have a reaction when you come in contact with eggs, you should avoid touching eggs, including the eggs of wild birds, and products containing eggs.

Vaccines made with Egg

There are several types of vaccines that contain egg protein, with the most common ones being vaccines cultured in egg protein. MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine) is one such vaccine. Based on studies done in children with egg allergy who safely received the MMR vaccine, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that the MMR vaccine can be safely administered to those individuals with egg allergy. This includes children with severe egg allergy.

The influenza vaccine also contains a small amount of egg protein, usually. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI): "Studies show that flu vaccines can be safely administered to egg allergic individuals, wither in the primary care provider's office or allergist's office depending on the severity of the allergic reaction to eating eggs." Translated: a child or adult may receive this vaccination under the supervision of a medical professional, and where emergency treatment is readily available—not your local pharmacy or grocery store. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no one with an egg allergy should receive the nasal spray version of the flu vaccine.

The yellow fever vaccine also contains egg protein. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC state that a severe egg allergy is a contraindication for that vaccine. 

Medications with Egg

Propofol, an anesthetic that may be used during surgery, medical procedures or a test, is in part, made from the fatty part of egg (yolk). It is unclear whether this is a risk for individuals allergic to egg. Check with your allergist prior to the use of Propofol. Generally, egg is not included in medication, however, you should always err on the safe side and check the label and confer with a pharmacist or allergist.

More Helpful Tips

Bird-Egg Syndrome:

Some people may develop an allergy to eggs as a result of developing an allergy to birds. This is called Bird-Egg Syndrome, and may occur when people have long-term exposure to birds, such as having parrots as pets. People with pet birds may develop sensitivity to proteins in the bird's feathers, droppings, or dander that can cause the development of an allergy to eggs. Bird-Egg Syndrome is more common in adult women than in men or children.

Meeting Nutritional Requirements:

Avoiding egg for an egg allergy means eliminating an important food from your diet. Whenever you have to do this, you must make an effort to replace the important nutrients offered by the eliminated food. Egg is a good source of protein, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, pantothenic acid, selenium, folacin, riboflavin, biotin, and iron. These nutrients can be easily supplied by meat, fish, and poultry foods; whole grains; and vegetables.

For young children, be on the lookout for problems with weight gain and growth. Researchers have found that kids with multiple food allergies may be more likely to experience growth problems due to their restricted diet.


Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) website (

Boyce JA et al. Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States: Report from the NIAID-sponsored Expert Panel. J Allergy Clin Immunology. 2010.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Centers for Disease Control 

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

Sicherer, S. Food Allergies: A Complete Guide for Eating When Your Life Depends on It

Joneja JV. The Health Professionals Guide to Food Allergies and Intolerances

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