Reactions to shellfish: Why do I have skin rashes?

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Skin rashes that develop after eating or directly handling shellfish indicates a serious food allergy. If the individual does not suspect any known triggers for contact dermatitis, he/she must consider testing for shellfish allergy.

Types of shellfish such as sea urchins, oysters and shrimp might trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals. Among shellfish, lobster, shrimp and crab are known as the potent allergens.

Close look on skin rashes

The characteristic symptoms of the skin rashes or allergic contact dermatitis include redness, skin irritation, itchiness and warmth. The patches of skin can erupt in hives or elevated bumps or might form blisters that are filled with fluid.

Skin rashes
The characteristic symptoms of the skin rashes or allergic contact dermatitis include redness, skin irritation, itchiness and warmth.

Take note that these allergy symptoms can develop right away after exposure to shellfish or up to 2 days later. Shellfish allergy can occur in both children and adults.

In case the symptoms are only limited to the skin, the individual might still experience other health issues at any time. Direct handling or cooking shellfish will allow the protein allergens to become airborne and once inhaled, can intensify the bodily reaction. Other effects include stuffed or runny nose, mouth swelling and itchiness and even anaphylaxis or severe reaction that affects the entire body.

Identifying shellfish allergy

An individual can end up with skin rashes from substances not linked to shellfish such as other foods or household cleaning agents. A doctor should be consulted so that testing can be performed to identify or rule out an allergy.

A skin test, blood test or special diet can reveal if there is a need to eliminate shellfish and other fish from the diet of the individual to stay healthy and free from any reactions.

Considerations to bear in mind

If an individual has shellfish allergy, any exposure to the microscopic allergens can trigger anaphylaxis but uncommon from skin exposure than ingestion or inhalation. Immediate medical care is needed if the individual develops other allergy symptoms aside for skin rashes such as erratic pulse rate, difficulty breathing or weakness. Remember that anaphylaxis can rapidly progress to loss of consciousness, respiratory arrest, coma and even death.

Even though allergies in children can come and go, shellfish allergy can last for a lifetime. It simply means that this allergy could not be cured or alleviated with immunotherapy shots. This is why these individuals are at continuous risk for severe allergic reactions.

Although the skin rashes starts to fade once exposure to shellfish ceases and the allergens pass from the body, there are cases in which they can linger. In such circumstances, topical creams can be applied to reduce the skin irritation such as a corticosteroid cream or calamine lotion to manage the itchiness and inflammation.

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