Sudden Milk Allergy?

Updated on January 15, 2010
A.R. asks from Sammamish, WA
12 answers

My three and half year old daughter developed hives all over her body out of the blue last night. She has a peanut allergy but we are super careful about that and I am sure that she was not exposed to anything out of the ordinary yesterday. I gave her Benadryl last night and even took her to the Urgent care. She got them again 6 hours after, pretty bad! I took her to the pediatrician who prescribed Hydroxizine. and that seemed to work except after drinking it, about half hour later she threw up. then i tried children's zyrtec and she bought that out immidiately. has anyone had a similar experience with hives just appearing out of nowhere? i am wondering if this is a sudden milk allergy that she has developed. If anyone has had this experience, please respond and tell me that she will be ok!!!!

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answers from Seattle on

I've broken out in hive for many reasons - all after long years of use - once for the laundry detergent my mom had used for years - once for a face cleaner - once for new pants I didn't wash - once for bath soap.

So it could be something you aren't even thinking about - sheets - clothing - sunscreen.

I would take her to an allergist to get tested.

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answers from Portland on

My friend's 3 year old had a similar reaction and after going to urgent care it was discovered she had developed an allergy to their laundry detergent. An easy way to determine if it food or detergent:
Food: Hives will start at the face and neck
Detergent: Hives will start at the belly and back
Good luck!

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answers from Portland on

'sounds like that was a clear allergic reaction

but just as a second possibility, my kids got hives (sudden breakout and all) from stress a couple of times (especially in the last year their dad and I were together and the first year after he left) ... there would be some trigger (a fight, or I would Freak Out Yelling because of something a kid did--sometimes the kid who got the hives wasn't the kid I had yelled at), but it was because of the overall stress level that their bodies were prepped to freak out

during that time, they were allergic to strawberries; we haven't seen that allergy since then ... I was avoiding peanuts and cashew/pistachio/mango family things for them at the time since they barfed them up as babies; I have since carefully introduced those and so far so good. (Of course that is NOTTTTT the advice an MD would probably give about potential allergens. 'Just saying what happened.)



answers from Seattle on

Are you sure it was a food sensitivity and not a contact allergy? A food additive that you weren't aware of? The effects of the antihistamine, regardless of the brand, often doesn't last as long as the allergen is in the system. So you need to back track and write down everything that she ate and came in contact with. To all of a sudden develop a severe allergy isn't very common, it doesn't mean it can't happen. Did she throw up or have trouble breathing with her hives?

Ask her pediatrician to run an allergy panel on her, the scratch panel on her back, to see what all she's allergic to. We've had a terrible pollen problem as of late. Also, laundry detergents can cause terrible hives, been there, done that personally. It was so painful and unexpected. The manufacturer had changed their formula. Again, get the allergy tests done. You already have the peanut allergy to monitor for, so it's best to be in the know.

Happy Mother's Day!!!!



answers from Seattle on

My daughter has severe nut allergies and 2 of my kids have skin sensitivities severe enough to require regular medical attention.

I would make an appointment immediately with a pediatric allergist. They will be able to test your child for many food allergies including milk and others so there will be no need for dangerous experimenting with foods or guesswork.

As for detergents, in any case it's a good idea to switch to products that are free of extra additives. Our pediatric dermatologist recommends Tide Free, but she also recommends eliminating all soaps with fragrances and additives except Dove or cetaphil, aveeno or eucerin for moisturizer and that fragrance free/dye free shampoos.



answers from Seattle on

I'm sorry you are going through this. My son has a life threatening peanut allergy. I assume you are seeing an allergy specialist. If not, please do. Many people are happy with Northwest Asthma and Allergy. I'm moving my sons from there to Dr. Mary Farrington with Virginia Mason.

I belong to a local food allergy group called Washington FEAST that has been incredibly helpful. While my son has not developed additional food allergies, I've seen many stories of children who have. It's not uncommon. And just this year, my son developed cold urticaria - an allergy to the cold. We've never seen it before, but after his first time in the snow this winter, he broke out in huge hives. Allergies of all kinds can come on at any time. Visit to join. They have a Yahoo list serve which is fabulous. You can get advice and feedback from many other people who are in similar situations.

An allergist can help you determine the source of the allergic reaction and develop your emergency action plan, as I'm sure you have for the peanut allergy. Assuming it is a milk allergy, you will need to do the same thing you've done with peanuts - eliminate all milk, read labels, etc. Your allergist can help you determine the best way to treat reactions and whether the epinephrine should be used with milk reactions.

Good luck! I know how challenging it is to deal with food allergies. It's very frustrating to have a new one to deal with.




answers from Seattle on

That's the thing about allergies, they can and do come from out of the blue sometimes. My daughters are very allergic, one to peanuts and tree nuts, so I understand your frustration. If it's food, the simple answer, take her to the allergist and have them test her for what you suspect. You've been through it before. If it's not, it could be from anything, laundry soap, dryer sheets (that's what caused my older daughter's full body rash), clothing, sunscreen, lotion. I got hives from one of those combo moisturizer/tanners! Who knew? My peanut daughter had hives from Penicillin (doctor said one more day of the stuff could have killed her, now we know she's allergic to that too!). Is she on any medication right now? Get her tested with the food, if it's not that then you have to start looking somewhere else. All will be fine, you'll figure it out, I always have.



answers from Seattle on

Oh my goodness - you CERTAINLY have your hands full!! ( I am told by a good friend who had twin girls--- now in their 30s -- -that the first 2 years were really hard- but life got WAY better after age 2 ---- so you can look for some much needed '''' rest ''''' in 10 months-- sigh.

Yes, my youngest had some pretty bad allergies- and they CAN crop up ''out of no-where'' - and she will be fine--

aka- Old Mom



answers from Portland on

Hi, she does not have a milk allergy. My husband and son have dairy allergies, symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, belly cramps, white stools, and other internal problems that occur after consumption of any dairy product. Sounds like there is a skin contact, such as laundry, bath soap, bath bubbles, could also be something in the air .
I hope this helps



answers from Des Moines on

I know it has been awhile since this was posted, but I was reading about your daughter's hives, because of my niece. I take care of her on a daily basis and suddenly has developed hives. At first we thought it was a reaction to walnuts, but after going to the doctor and being put on steroids at first she got better, but then, still on the steroids, it became worse again. I have a severely allergy to tree nuts and whenever I've had a reaction and been given steroids my rash has gone away or at least faded within hours and does not come back unless of course I eat tree nuts. I got to thinking of what might be going on and thought that the only things she gets on a consistent basis, by her mother and me, are juice and milk. I decided to try not giving her milk today, and so far no hives! Please let me know if you found anything out since your wrote this.

I wanted to make sure to comment on what "Ginny B" below wrote. I'm sure she is a great mom, but telling you for sure that it can't be a milk allergy isn't good unless she's a doctor. In fact, if you go to mayo clinics website and type in MILK ALLERGY, it will give you several ways you can react to milk/dairy. Yes, vomitting and intestinal issues are one way to react, but you can react with hives as well.

From a mother of three!
Thanks so much and hope you have found some answers.

P.S. I was tested and evaluated for my tree nut allergy at National Jewish Hospital in Denver, Colorado when they couldn't figure out what I was allergic to. They are the nations leading hospital for asthma and allergy/immunology treatment. Even for your daughters peanut allery, they have tons of info about every allergy you could think of, lists of popular food products that contain whatever you are allergic to, and environmental testing for all 50 states. Even if you can't go there, they have a website, and you could probably somehow get info sent to you!



answers from Eugene on

Yes, hives can seem to appear out of nowhere. Obviously, there is an underlying cause, the trick is to figure out what it it. Not easy since it is not necessarily food. To make things harder, I was told that hives can appear up to 48 hours after eating an offending food item. However, in our family of food allergic people, they always seemed to show up about 20 minutes after eating.

When one of my children broke out in hives, I would write down everything they had ingested in the previous 24 hours, plus anything else that might have caused it: playing with a friend's dog, a new laundry soap, weird weather. In most cases, we were able to narrow down the culprit to a food allergy.

Unfortunately, sometimes the food was something that child had eaten safely in the past and was a new allergen, which made it seem like the hives came out of nowhere. Since your daughter is already suseptible to food allergies, this would not be unusual. One of my daughters developed her wheat allergy as a teenager, and I developed an allergy to soy (hives again) after having my last baby.

The food allergy network helped me immensely in understanding how food allergies work and how to treat them.



answers from Portland on

Yes! she will be OK! You just have to find out to what she's allergic. Hives are an allergic response, usually to something that contacts the skin.

I doubt that this is a milk allergy. It sounds more like she is allergic to something that contacts her skin. Even tho I have a lot of allergies the only time I remember getting hives was after going to a movie. The hives were on my back. I suspect something was on the fabric of the chair.

Do you give these medications with food? My granddaughter takes Zyrtec after breakfast.
Many years ago I vomited every morning. I learned that the cause was my multi-vits with calcium. Calcium is very irritating to the stomach for some people.

My granddaughter had a milk allergy when she was a baby. She never had hives. Actually I think her mother discovered the allergy during a visit to address several issues. She outgrew the milk allergy by the time she was 5.

Have you tried not giving her anything in the dairy family? If she's allergic the hives and vomiting will stop in a couple of days.

I have a lot of food allergies. They have never given me hives or caused me to vomit. When I was younger and ate a lot of the food I eventually learned that I was allergic to I'd have an upset stomach but never vomited. Now, I get an itching in my throat and ears. In my experience a food allergy first shows up with mild symptoms that increase over time.

It is possible that she has a stomach bug that's unrelated to the hives. As a teen I did have hives after a bee sting. I've not had any reaction to a sting since then which probably means the bee had something either in the venom or on his stinger to which I was allergic.

I'd try switching to a different detergent, using a mild one recommended for babies and those with sensitive skin. If you use a fabric softener I'd stop that. First, I would run a clean cycle on your washer using Chlorox or vinegar and clean the dryer drum with a vinegar solution. If your washer doesn't have a clean cycle just run it thru a regular cycle without anything in it except the vinegar or chlorox. If you have hard water add a water softener.

I would also try not using any soap or lotion on her for a few days. Rub cortizone cream on her hives. The cream should soothe them in an hour or so. Sometimes it works immediately.

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