Food Additives Allergies?


New Member
Well, we took our youngest difficult child in for his allergy test today and according to them, he's not allergic to any major food products. They said he could be allergic to dyes or preservatives, but there aren't any tests for this. Then how do I know why he's breaking out in hives and getting a pumpkin head?

Does anyone know how to find out what he's allergic to if it's not showing up on the test? Has anyone had one of these tests and reacted a day late?

They said the area should be bumpy and raised, well, at open house tonight, we looked and he has two small bumps, but we don't know which test that was because they wiped all the writing off. And he doesn't typically react the same day, so I'm worried he's going to wake up tomorrow covered in bumps. Then what?

I'm at a loss as to what to do. I know he can't eat anything extra yet because I know he does react, but I don't know to what now. Any suggestions?


The allergist should have kept records on which bumps correspond to which foods he tested for allergies. In addition, if your difficult child wakes up with bumps tomorrow, call the allergist and ask what it means.


New Member
Well, the allergist marked his skin, but since nothing showed a reaction in 10 minutes, they wiped all the marks off. I don't know that they wrote it down how it was all placed on his back.


From what I remember when my daughter was tested, the allergists tend to have an order in which they test certain allergens. It's worth a call to ask.


When my daughter had allergy testing for environmental allergens (ie, tree, grass, mold, dust, etc), her bumps looked like mosquito bites, they were very itchy and they appeared within minutes of the scratch test.


New Member
I simply cannot remember, I was SOO young when I had these tests done, granted, they were done every 4-6 months for several years... I do remember the airborne allergy tests, in the arm, and my arm would stay bumpy and swollen for a week. But for those of you who KNOW anything about that test, to tell you how bad my allergies were, I reacted so strongly to so many of the chemicals, they had to shoot me up on BOTH arms because they ran out of space!!!!

As for the food ones on the back, I am assuming they rubbed the stuff on and then pricked his skin. Judging by how big the bump is will tell them if he is allergic. I think the only time you have to be concerned is if the bumps get any LARGER than they were at the office.

If I remember correctly, they also warned my mom about an additive I could be allergic to, I am trying to remember I think it was MSG is common allergy that can't be tested for, and the reason I remember is because using Seasoned Salt for food and the only brand she could by was Lowry's because it is MSG FREE and the generic seasoned salt brands werent.


Well-Known Member
I think there is a lab...maybe it is called something like Great Smoky or something that does blood testing that is supposed to be more reliable than the simple pin pricking testing.

Now I could be completely off base on if it is more reliable but I have heard this on the natural treatment board here and on other websites.

You could also do the elimination diet to see if he reacts to certain foods or additives. I think Doris Lapps book...Is this your child may have something in it about doing this.

The only food that ever really caused a reaction in any of my kids was tomato products and that was in Cory. They caused him to turn his ears beet red. We never saw a behavior correlation but he did make an amusing sight that caused his peers to tease him which in turn caused him to get right ticked off when they decided to attempt to tug on his bright red


Roll With It
I am sensitive to just about all preservatives/artificial anythings in foods. Lots of work with a doctor when I was in college helped me figure things out. It took over a year, elimination diets, blood work, stringently honest food and activity diaries, and lots of going across campus with a migraine so he could see exactly what happened when I ate certain things.

And I don't even remember his name. The docs. After so many moves I am not even sure I have the records. But I know my triggers and that often the migraine happens 2-3 days after the triggering food

At this point just changing your families diet to avoid mixes may be a huge help. I can help with recipes and techniques to make this manageable if you need advice. I have been doing it for over 2o years.



ps, natural treatment forum may also have good advice/info


New Member
I almost posted this in natural treatments, but then I couldn't decide if allergies applied.

husband thinks one of the bumps is the prick test to be sure he didn't take any anti-hystamines this week. The other one is mid-back though, so that is a reaction to one of the test locations.

They didn't do a prick test per-say. It was like a lego block with legs, each leg had like tiny plastic tenticles on them and they pushed it into the skin just a small bit.

My concern is, since with all but one food, his reaction wasn't until the next day...what if he's swollen tomorrow and how big does the bump need to be to report it as a reaction? He didn't have ANY reaction besides the red marks on his skin from it being pushed in while in the office.

I really do think its the food dyes. It's too coincidental that it was mint-chocolate chip ice cream (green), spiderman birthday cake, skittles and cupcakes with yellow icing.


New Member
food allergies are notorious for NOT showing up on skin tests - because it's often a totally different reaction. Also be warned that many allergist don't "believe" in food allergies, per se.

As Janet stated, one of the only ways you may be able to really identify the allergin is an elimination diet. Do some searches, but basically you have to completely remove the suspected allergin (which means reading EVERY ingredient label) for a period of up to 6 weeks, then reintroduce small amounts to see if you get a reaction.
DO NOT DO THIS ON YOUR OWN if you suspect shock as a side effect!!!

A great book on food allergies, and allergies in general, and "unique" reactions is Dr. Doris Rapp "Is This Your Child".

Besides additives, some of the things that typically are offenders are cow's milk, wheat, corn (and corn syrup), and peanuts. Yes, these are in virtually everything. Yes, if it winds up being one of these, you are in for lots of hard work. But it IS doable - I have one allergic to cow's milk. He's now 20 years old, and healthy as can be, as long as he stays totally away from anything with milk, whey, casein, sodium caseinate, etc. as an ingredient.


Active Member
OK, my computer is glitching, I'm going to try AGAIN! And advance warning - this is a LONG post!

You need to do a do-it-yourself course in the immune system and how it works, in order to REALLY understand what is going on and to REALLY know how to save time and energy (and often a lot of money) in this process. There is a lot or rubbish out there masquerading as science - you need to evaluate it in context so if you decide to check it all out anyway, you know exactly where it all fits in.

An absolutely brilliant book - "The Body at War" by John Dwyer. It may be out of print but libraries should still have it somewhere. I know a later edition came out in about 1990, US & Australian release. He's an Aussie who also spent a lot of time working in the US as a pediatrician and immunologist, before moving to Sydney to practice. He has retired from clinical practice but is still heavily involved in teaching and research. He's a darn good teacher (and the book reflects this) having the rare gift of being able to explain complex things in an easy to understand (and interesting) way. I've attended a number of his lecture to lay people, most came out knowing more about immunology than the average GP.

The immune system is complex - just about anything involving the bloodstream and circulation is complex. But complex like a diesel engine - with a good manual you can get a really thorough understanding of it.

In your bloodstream you have red cells and white cells. The red cells carry oxygen and waste products; the white cells form a major part of the defence system - the immune system. There are other parts too, I'm being very simplistic here, but it's the basic stuff.
Your white cells include (among other things) two major groups - B cells and T cells. You've heard about T cells - they're the ones attacked by HIV - the AIDS virus. And this is bad, because it's the T cells which recognise invading organisms and trigger the body to begin the attack, and to also build defences against any future attack (by giving instructions for making antibodies). Killing off T cells, as HIV does, is why AIDS is so nasty when it really gets a grip - defence system is shot to pieces.
But the B cells - they respond to foreign substances, and respond fast. They are designed to trigger an inflammatory response, which then is supposed to set other things in train to help the body eject a foreign substance. B cells work a different way - they set off mast cells, which are little more than bags of histamine. Wherever a mast cell explodes, you get a small localised inflammatory response. This is what causes hives. And this is the only TRUE allergy - when you get wither hives, or anaphylaxis. Because both of these are histamine reactions. We treat allergies with anti-histamines, designed to cool down the B-cell response.

A B-cell response is fast. Depending on how it is delivered, it is usually within minutes, sometimes seconds. I heard of one girl with an allergy to horse serum (back in the days when it was used) who broke open an ampoule for the doctor and collapsed immediately - a sliver of glass from the ampoule had punctured her glove and gone under her fingernail. The doctor immediately guess what had happened and saved her, but some reactions are that fast.

Allergy tests - these are limited. Sorry. The ones you had done on your son are the most accurate. These are testing for that immediate reaction, the fast mast cell effect. And these, if there are any positive results, are the ones where you have to carry an Epipen.
A negative result doesn't mean no allergy, only that any allergy tested for isn't as nasty (at this time) as it could be.
The test itself - two ways of doing it. One way involved the immunologist sitting there with a lot of different vials, each one testing a specific series of allergens you were concerned about. The doctor has a box of tiny bottles, he puts a tiny drop on the skin and then with a sterile lancet, scratches the skin through the drop. It's time consuming and expensive. By the time the doctor has done the series, the first scratches should be ready to read. I have had this done where I was asked to wait for half an hour though. When I had it done, he wrote on my arm with a felt pen which had to be washed off - I think he used a permanent marker. It washed off later with a sterile swab.
The second way is to use a pre-packaged block. This is becoming increasingly common, especially since these blocks were manufactured and marketed. They are cheaper to use, faster to use and frankly, more accurate. The block has about sixteen heads on it, each one has a 'foot' which terminates in a circle of small plastic spines, each one loaded with a specific antigen. The most time consuming part is where the person doing the test has to peel off the seal on each foot of the block. They then press the block onto a cleaned patch of skin and wait.
Among the test antigens on this block, you will find two controls - a positive and a negative. The positive is a histamine test. The negative is sterile water. You SHOULD react to the histamine (which would give a typical response you would find if an allergy showed up on one of the other test sites) and you SHOULD NOT react to the water. If your reaction is faulty with these two, the entire test is suspect and you are about to get investigated, big time!

So in your son - at least one of those lumps is a histamine control. it is possible there were two histamine controls. If so, they probably would have been either next to each other, or at opposite ends of the test block - there is no need to randomise position in the block, your skin doesn't care whether you know or not. But by all means, ring and ask, for the sake of your peace of mind.

Often a positive to an allergy will show up as much more positive than the histamine reaction. Because an allergy is your body's immune system, designed to protect you, going overboard and trying to crack a walnut with nuclear weapons.

Now, to other tests - the same plastic block (at least, one similar in appearance but maybe loaded with different antigens) can also be used for what is called a DTH or delayed hypersensitivity test. It's not really of value in testing specific allergies (or sensitivities) as much as how your immune system in general is 'set' - sensitive, or sluggish. I've had a lot of DTH tests done over the years and although I know I'm allergic to a few things they test, I don't get a huge reaction, only a normal one, AND it is delayed. For me in the DTH, it was always the number of positives I got (the test was read at two days) which told the doctors more about my immune system - definitely overactive.

Back to allergy tests and now results - I told you I've had scratch tests done, looking for the B-cell reaction (the fast one). I tested negative, even though I had already had allergic reactions (with urticaria) to penicillin, erythromycin and sulfa. None of these three showed up and I remember at the time thinking they were incompetent for not sticking around to see if they reacted later (one of them did). But the doctor explained to me - the histamine positive had come up and the water hadn't, which meant the testing had been done properly. But my failure to react on my skin didn't mean I wasn't allergic; it just meant that my allergy, at that time, was not going to be immediately life-threatening. I didn't need to carry an Epipen (which didn't exist back then anyway). This is always subject to change, however, as your body gets increasingly sensitised.

Other types of allergy tests - these are very much open to debate. The blood tests are championed by some and considered quackery by others. The accuracy is a huge issue - how to you test for something when it's locked away in how your blood reacts while it is in your body? It is less likely to react that way when it's in a test tube. Because the blood test can't look for antibodies - that's T-cell, not B-cell. And this sort of blood test - very expensive, because it is so very meticulous.

Maybe it's the Gen-Y thing, but we keep looking to medical science to give us the instant answers. "Probe my body and tell me exactly what is wrong." And medicine cannot. Not always, especially not when it's a matter of such fine detail. I mentioned the immune system as being like a diesel engine - the scratch tests are like doing a diagnostic on the engine while it is running - it will tell you a great deal about that specific area. The blood tests are like analysing the engine oil of the machine and trying to use that to determine if the idle is too fast. OK, there MIGHT be a bit more carbon in the oil perhaps...

You are afraid for your son because you have seen him develop allergic reaction or some other sensitivity reaction. The tests are limited, but YOU can do other tests, especially if you have a good immunologist advising you. Those tests include keeping good records and trusting your own powers of observation.
I know I am allergic to certain antibiotics because when I take them, I get a rash. I've never had anaphylaxis (and don't want to, ever). I know I am sensitive to other medications because when I take them I get very ill in ways not associated with mast cells or histamine - I vomit, or get some other problem which means I cannot take that medication.

Because I have made these observations and kept records about them, I can keep myself safe from doctors prescribing something which could be dangerous for me. My mother in law is sensitive (not allergic) to morphine, but this did not prevent medical staff from giving her pethidine after open heart surgery. The extreme vomiting which resulted made her desperately ill with cardiac inflammation and kept her in hospital for 8 weeks, when she should have been out of hospital in three days. Although it was not an allergic reaction but a sensitivity one, it still almost killed her just the same. She now wears an SOS Talisman medalert medallion round her neck. So do I.

All these reactions are important to note, but very few can be empirically tested for.

It still comes down to your own parenting, your own observation and trusting yourself to be accurate in your reporting of your child's medical history.

I probably haven't explained things too well - get the book I recommended out of the library. It is much better at explaining this, probably less boring, too.



Well-Known Member
I don't think that one mosquito-size bump is worth calling the dr. for.

Wow, between Skeeter and Marg, you've got it covered!

We did skin testing with-my difficult child a few mo's ago. This dr does not do it on people's backs because of severe allergic reactions... it's safer to do it on arms.

Yes, they always incl. a test past to make sure you/they are not allergic to anything basic they use -- alcohol, who knows what they put these things in.

My difficult child did an elimination diet with-red dye for about 3 wks, and when the time came to put a drop of red food coloring under his tongue, he freaked. "Okay, okay, I'm allergic! Don't do it!"

It was pretty funny. I only feared that red dye would make him angry and hyper. He feared he'd pass out!

The hard part about an elimination diet is making sure the kids don't cheat. They have parties and treats at school, and even the best kid will forget.

I agree with-Skeeter, that skin tests don't necessarily indicate behavioral allergies. In fact, some doctors don't even believe they exist! The best way is through an elimnination diet with-a food diary.

Good luck!


New Member
The strict diet he was put on last year prior to school starting was seriously limiting. Everything he put in his mouth was all natural, no additives etc.

Since he had no reaction yesterday to the major allergins, then I guess he can go back to natural dairy/breads. I'm still at a loss to these hives/swelling. I do believe it is food dye. I know food coloring is dye, but does it contain the same dye #'s most food does?

My problem is youngest difficult child sneaks constantly. And this lovely new school insists on notes from doctors. So since there is no test, there is no doctor saying he's allergic to "this, this and this" and the school doesn't seem to care. I requested the school allow him to eat two snacks a day, they said not without a doctors note. They knew he was going to the allergist yesterday and now, with no results, I have nothing to say "Don't give him this."

I will start reading labels more carefully and see if I can uncover it on my own, but my fear is, the school doesn't care what I have to say unless a doctor agrees. For this specific allergy, I'm kinda SOL on that I guess.


Active Member
It does seem that you will have to do your own elimination diet or do one of the blood tests. I have never done the blood tests because they are expensive and somewhat controversial. I have also heard that they will give you a whole list of things to avoid. But it might be a good way to figure out where to start with the elimination diet.

Since you already suspect food dyes, you could start with that. There are lots of things that he would like that don't have any food dyes. Not necessarily healthy foods but at this point, in my humble opinion, it is most important to get him to comply with your rules about what he eats. You might have to make your own treats for him.

I promised my girls that if there was a treat at school they couldn't have, they could tell me after school and I would make sure they got a treat then. I also made sure I sent them treats and junk food snacks that they would like to eat so they wouldn't eat their friends' food. I have also told my older daughter that if I even think she is cheating, I will have to follow her around. I did actually show up at her lunch one day, so she knows I mean it. My younger one gets a stomach ache if she eats something she shouldn't so she has her own negative consequence.

What was his diet last year? How did he do then?


New Member
His diet was called the Hunter and Gatherers diet. Mainly meat and veggies, but no white food, like no breads, no white potatoes etc. 1 serving of dairy and 1 serving of wheat a day. It was so strict and if he could get to food and not get caught, he'd cheat.


Well-Known Member
Could it be that he is hypoglycemic and that could be the medical diagnosis to get the snacks covered?

Isnt that in your signature for him?

Ok...there are so many ways to get rid of food dyes. Get that book we mentioned by Doris Rapp. You can make your own Lemonaide with real lemons and sugar. Real Iced Tea. Decide if you are limiting dairy. This can be done.


New Member
Yes, he is reactive hypoglycemic. I did give them this note, but because of the allergic reactions I described to them, they want a doctors note.


New Member
My son packed his lunch every day (thank goodness HE was NOT allergic to peanuts - he's eaten a PNB and jelly sandwich every day for lunch since he was a year old!). I also supplied the teacher(s) with treats and snacks for him at the beginning of the school year.
However, there was also a child allergic to nuts in his class, and after 2nd grade, it became habit for all the parents (the kids were actually the ones that insiste) to call me and the other child's parent so they could bring in "safe" treats for NF and J. I believe it was in 1st grade, the kids got to go to the quick mart next to the school for an ice cream reward for reading. It was a very hot day, and NF asked for a "slushy" (fruit, ice drink) because of his milk allergy. Then ALL the kids decided they would rather have a slushy than ice cream - it actually saved the teacher money!!!

Food dyes are going to be tricky - if I'm not mistaken, the Feingold (sp?) diet is a good one for these. Not only will you need to look for terms such as "FD&C #" whatever in ingredients list, but words such as "tartazine" (that's yellow dye).

Watch processed meats, like deli meats. Not only do a lot of them have dairy (the way to avoid THAT is to make sure they are kosher - meat and milk cannot be together in kosher), but they often have dye in them.