The face of an allergy

Well, drat.

Some of our kids have had milk allergies, but it looks like Henry has a peanut allergy. Forgetting that he got a rash on his face last time he had one, I gave him a peanut-butter sandwich for lunch, and this is what his face looks like, now. (It’s impossible to get an in-focus photo of moving-target Henry even with Mabel’s help restraining him, but you can see that he’s got red spots around his mouth — one of them has small white welts at its center, too.) I gave him a children’s antihistamine and he’s breathing fine, so I think he’ll be okay, but I’ve heard that with peanut allergies you can become sensitized after a few exposures and later reactions can be much worse, so I guess we’ll have to be very careful from now on.

I have a friend whose kid, named Henry, is allergic to everything, including peanuts, so I guess I should have known better than to use that name.

While I’ve been writing this, Henry’s face has mostly cleared up, so I’m hopeful that it’s just a mild allergy (or maybe the antihistamine is acting quickly) (not that I’m going to keep feeding him peanuts, though.)

2012 update: I just noticed I’m still getting occasional hits on this post, so I should say that after testing showed almost no reaction to peanuts, the allergist told us we could avoid directly feeding him peanuts but wouldn’t need to carry and epi-pen or worry about trace amounts. He also suggested that we try feeding Henry peanuts again after a couple of years, which we have done and he has always been fine. So that was nice. I still don’t know what caused his hives in these photos.

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16 Responses to The face of an allergy

  1. Acheté says:

    Oh dear–peanut allergy is a scary one, or can be. I hope it’s just a mild allergy, rather than the sort of thing that eventually requires you to carry an epi-pen around.

  2. zstitches says:

    I should probably ask about getting one at his next dr. visit. I actually haven’t heard of people with mild peanut allergies, only crazy out-of-control-tiny-crumbs-could-kill-you ones — but of course I hope his isn’t like that. He definitely seems fine now.

  3. Poor little sweet pea—-Dylan has a lot of sensitivities. I don’t know if they are allergies or just sensitivities. I am glad it cleared up quickly.

  4. She She says:

    My son’s first two reactions to peanuts were hives so I thought his allergy was mild. His next reaction was anaphylactic shock. Please go to your doctor and get your son an epi-pen. A mild reaction is no guarantee that his next won’t be anaphylaxis. I’m not trying to scare you — well, maybe I am. I just know how close I came to losing my son. I wouldn’t want that to happen to you.

  5. zstitches says:

    You pretty much terrified me, but also confirmed what I suspected. I have been wanting to find my kids a different pediatrician, so they’re overdue for regular check-ups, but it sounds like for this, it’s worth going to our current doctor rather than waiting until I find someone new — I will do that. Thanks for the warning. (So what happened when he had anaphylactic shock — did you call an ambulance? I’m assuming he is okay now.)

    (Oh, and I feel really dumb for forgetting about his earlier reactions and giving him peanut butter yesterday — but I am so grateful he survived my mistake.

  6. Emily Brimhall says:

    This must be a genetic Hall thing. Cameron is severely allergic to Milk products. He has grown out of his egg and peanut allergies thankfully, but anaphylactic shock is still on our radar all the time, he has gone into shock only once. I would suggest getting an epipen too. We have had many hive flare ups in the past, a double dose of antihistamine does the trick thank goodness. Good luck!

  7. zstitches says:

    So how do you know he’s grown out of the peanut allergy?
    My kids have varying degrees of milk allergy. Isaac’s is worst but it’s *never* been life-threatening — he can eat most things now, but knows to stop eating anything that starts itching his mouth.
    By now I’m officially freaked out about this peanut thing, now that I’ve had a day to start thinking about all the things we’ll have to watch out for — snacks at friends’ houses, finding out ingredients when we eat out, etc. I went grocery shopping today and checked the labels on everything I bought, and just now I got an ice cream bar out of my fridge and realized it had peanuts on it. We are going to have to make some changes, and I will have a lot to learn over the next while. And talk about it raining when it pours (since I just got the diagnosis for *my* health issues last Friday.)
    So what happened when Cameron had his anaphylaxis attack — did you use an epi pen? Take him to the ER or call an ambulance?

  8. She She says:

    When Owen went into anaphylactic shock, he turned white — I mean WHITE. Even his lips were white. He kept saying, “I just want to lie down. I feel like I have something stuck in my throat.” What was happening is that his blood pressure was plummeting. Thank god he was verbal at this point and could tell me what he was feeling. I called 911 and they came right away. We ended up going to the hospital and stayed for awhile to make sure it wouldn’t progress further. It shocked me into taking his allergy very seriously.

    If you have a pediatric allergy practice in your area, you’ll want to go there. They’re specialists and can help you out with getting the information you need to manage this.

    Good luck to you.

  9. Tracy says:

    Hi – I’m another mom of a PA boy who thought her son was “milder” allergic until he went into anaphylaxis. (I surfed in via google blog alerts) In our case, he took one bite of an ice cream cone that had peanut bits mixed in the chocolate, threw up, turned bone-white and lethargic (that’s the bp dropping) and started wheezing. Luckily we’re only 5 minute minutes from the hospital.

    Luckily, peanut allergies are a lot easier to deal with than milk allergies. People really understand that they can be serious.

    Two good information sources are the Food Allergy and Anaphyalxis Network (FAAN) at http://www.foodallergy.org and a message board for food allergic individuals and families at http://www.foodallergysupport.com

    Best wishes to you!

  10. zstitches says:

    Thanks, She She — and I’m so glad your son is okay. I’ll have to see what kind of allergists are in my area. Thanks for sharing your real-life example to help my husband and I realize how seriously we need to take this. Yesterday my husband kept saying “Well it still might be a mild allergy,” and I kept saying, “But we can’t know that, so we have to treat this as very serious,” — finally I said, “Basically he cannot have any peanuts at all, no matter how small an amount, because we never know which will be the time when it kills him,” and my husband agreed with me, so at least we’re clearly on the same page about that.

  11. zstitches says:

    Thanks, Tracy. And thanks for the resources; I can see I’ll be doing a lot of reading.

    This has been at least somewhat on my radar in the past — my younger siblings knew a girl in high school who died from eating (non-peanut) M&Ms before they started putting the “made on equipment that also is used for peanuts” labels on things, and a couple years ago I read that awful story about the girl who died after kissing her boyfriend who had eaten a peanut butter sandwich, and one of my sisters is used to putting any peanut products out of reach before a peanut-allergic neighbor kid comes over to play. More than once I’ve been known to say, “I’m so glad I don’t have a kid with a peanut allergy, because that one is scary.” (Of course, as you say, any food allergy is scary if it’s severe, but my kids’ milk allergies genuinely aren’t severe, so they’ve been a nuisance but not really frightening.)

  12. Rachelima says:

    As the mother of two with food allergies, PLEASE take him straight to an allergist and not your pediatrician as many awesome pediatricians are just not up tp speed on this current food allergy epidemic. Stop kicking yourself for not acting sooner: every single parent of food allergic children I know (and I know at least one hundred) did not know what was going on at first. Many then were in denial and remained uneducated even after confimred diagnosis. Its not the club you want to join (MOCHA – mothers of children having allergies); but each of your children will take you places you never knew your were supposed to visit. Your blog saving another child’s life? Quite possible.
    Food allergies are diagnosed by piecing information together – past history of experiences eating the food, RAST (blood) tests, and skin prick tests, usually done on the back in children his age. Go to the allergist, find out what exactly you are dealing with, and then take it just one step at a time. If you prepare for the worse case scenerio first (EPI-pen prescription and training) while avoiding the obvious allergens, you can take your time with all the steps in between.
    And yes, some people are less sensitive regarding allergens, but once a person has whatever amount of the allergen that triggers them, the seriousness of each reaction can go from a few hives to anaphylaxis. Science just doesn’t yet know how to predict reactions as it is NOT based on previous reactions.
    Honestly, months go by when I forget my children’s severe allergies as avoidance of allergens just become another way of life. Research and advocay and awareness is so much higher today than it was when my 11 year old was diagnosed; you can deal with this, just take it one step at a time. Step one: go to allergist 🙂

  13. zstitches says:

    Thank you for the good advice, especially about what to do first as we change our lives to deal with this. Like you said, it’s not a club I’d have volunteered to be part of, but it’s really comforting to feel like others who’ve been through this are looking out for me.

  14. lili says:

    Oh wow. I thought our family was safe from the dreaded peanut allergy! 😦 Poor thing–all of you! Yeah. I believe that Becky Warden’s was one of the cases that brought about the “may contain peanuts” labels. Her brother is my good friend (tho I haven’t seen him in years), but he had the same allergy and simply HAD to take it seriously. He ate a candy at our house once during Christmas break, and knew immediately that it had peanuts–had to run home and shoot himself up with adrenaline. A few years ago I had lunch with his wife–also my good friend–and she decided to bring home some choc. cake for him. She positively drilled the people at the restaurant before purchasing. “You’re POSITIVE this has no traces of nuts? Because even the slightest trace could kill my husband…” I suppose they’re used to always being on the lookout. Still. What a pain!

  15. lili says:

    Make that “has” the same allergy– bad typo when talking about allergies!

  16. Carli says:

    So sad to see his face like that! I guess you will have to be more careful next time. Peanut butter sandwiches are probably one of the easiest things to make for your kids. Preston eats at least one a day and usually requests them for breakfast!

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