Can people with fish allergies take fish oil supplements?

This is a difficult question to answer.

In 2008, a study skin prick tested (SPT) 6 fish allergic individuals with 2 different fish oil supplements and the participant then underwent an oral food challenge (OFC). None of the participants showed a positive SPT or OFC – which meant that they all safely tolerated the fish oil supplements. Both of these supplements carried a warning “not suitable for fish allergics”.

In contrast to this, a team from Canada reported on a case where a crab allergic individual showed recurrent episodes of anaphylaxis to a fish oil supplement. This is slightly difficult to interpret as the major allergens in fish (parvalbumin) and shell fish (tropomyosin) are different. No cross-reaction between these two allergens is seen, despite the fact that fish and shellfish allergies often co-exisit.

Most immune-assays will only detect (cod) parvalbumin in fish and tropomysin in shellfish. Detection of the parvalbumin becomes more difficult in fatty fish, and these two proteins (parvalbumin and tropomyosin) do not cover all the allergens in seafood. It therefore seems that at this point in time, it may not be possible to declare that fish oil supplements are safe for fish allergic individuals and krill oil supplements for shellfish allergic individuals.

Another point to take into account that the techniques used to measure the protein content of food for nutritional purposes, differ from detecting allergenic proteins. Just because a product indicates 0 grams of protein, does not mean trace amounts of allergenic proteins are not present.

Is there an alternative?

Algal oils contains* both EPA and DHA and are therefore a suitable alternative to fish/krill oil. Some, however, contain only DHA and it is therefore important to choose a supplement that contains both. REMEMBER: Always check the label and ask the manufacturer if the product is safe for fish and shellfish allergy suffers.


Should I bathe my child with eczema every day?

Eczema involves extremely dry skin, and some medical professionals think infrequent bathing (defined in this paper as less than once a day) is the best way to avoid irritating the skin. They believe infrequent bathing helps keep skin hydrated because it avoids constant evaporation of water, which can be drying. Infrequent bathing also means less use of the soaps which can aggravate eczema.

Those in favor of frequent bathing (defined in the paper as at least once a day) believe the presence of very dry skin requires hydration with daily baths followed by moisturizer. Limited use of pH balanced skin cleansers should also be part of frequent bathing, along with gentle patting dry, and the immediate application of a moisturizer to “seal” in moisture. This process is known as “soak and smear.”

A new article in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, the scientific publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) looks at the research and answers the question. According to the authors, daily bathing is fine, as long as it’s followed by lots of moisturizer. In other words, “soak and smear.”

We, at Allergy, Asthma & Sinus Centers have always strongly recommended soaking baths with lukewarm water once or twice daily, with minimal use of a mild soap, immediately followed by applying the prescribed ointments to the eczematous skin and liberal use of Vanicream or Aquaphor to the rest of the body.


Is Eczema an Allergic Reaction?

Eczema is a red, itchy rash that can be triggered by food or other allergies. Because of this, some people ask: Is eczema an allergic reaction or is it a separate skin condition?

Almost 40 percent of children with eczema have food allergies. According the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, “it is recommended that children under the age of five who have moderate to severe eczema be evaluated to milk, egg, peanut, wheat and soy allergies.”

It can sometimes be difficult to determine the trigger or allergen, as the eczema rash might not show up for 24- to 48-hours after you have been exposed to the allergen. This is because it takes a while before the immune system is triggered and starts to fight off what it sees as an attack. Some common environmental triggers include:

Dust mites
Chemicals found in clothing or hair dyes
Soaps and other cleaning products

While many people find that the eczema rash develops around where the contact to the allergen occurred, it can also appear on other parts of the body.

Your doctor can conduct patch tests to determine what substances cause an allergic reaction. A patch test involves placing a patch that contains a common allergen on your back and then checking the area after 48 hours to see if there is any skin reaction.


New drug approved for children with asthma

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved expanded use of omalizumab (Xolair, Novartis) to children as young as 6 years of age with uncontrolled moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma who have a positive skin test result or in vitro reactivity to an airborne allergen and symptoms that are inadequately controlled with inhaled corticosteroids, the company has announced.

Omalizumab was first approved in 2003 to treat adults and children age 12 years and older with moderate to severe persistent allergic asthma not controlled by inhaled steroids. The expanded approval to children age 6 to 11 years comes 3 months ahead of the FDA action date, the company said.


Pimecrolimus (Elidel) effective for eczema in young children

Topical pimecrolimus (Elidel), a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, can control the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in infants aged 3 to 23 months without the risk of skin atrophy or systemic adverse effects, according to the results of a double-blind controlled trial reported in the August issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

After six months of treatment, the incidence of patients who had no flares was 67.6% in the pimecrolimus group and 30.4% in the control group ( P<.001). After 12 months of treatment, 56.9% in the pimecrolimus group still had no flares, compared with 28.3% in the control group. Pimecrolimus had a steroid-sparing effect in that 63.7% of patients receiving Elidel did not use corticosteroids at all during the study compared with 34.8% of patients in the control group. Incidence of adverse events was similar in both groups.


Can I develop an allergy from eating too much of a food?

No, thankfully there is no relationship between consuming large quantities of a food and the development of a food allergy. If there were, a lot more people would be allergic to pizza! Eating a food is actually one way that we maintain the body’s tolerance to the food. The mechanism for how we develop allergies to foods that we have tolerated in the past is still not clear. Allergy to food can develop at any time in a person’s life, but it most commonly occurs in childhood and less commonly as an adult.


Do Food Allergens Remain on Objects?

Yes, food allergens can certainly remain on objects. Skin contact by touching an object contaminated with the food may cause a reaction in the rare individual who is highly allergic. Washing the objects with water & soap has been found to be sufficient. This would also apply to the hands and mouths of people if they just ate that food.


New Study Shows Allergy Shots Are Effective for Baby Boomers Suffering From Seasonal Allergies

Recent years have seen an increase in those suffering from allergies, including baby boomers. And because older people tend to have additional chronic diseases, diagnosis and management of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) can be a challenge. A new study shows immunotherapy (allergy shots) reduced symptoms by 55 percent after three years of therapy, and decreased the amount of medication needed for relief of symptoms by 64 percent.


Hypo-allergenic or non-allergenic dogs or cats?

Unfortunately there are no “non-allergenic” cat or dog breeds! All of these have some level of allergen. Further, the allergic potential of dogs or cats is not affected by the length of their fur. This is a common myth! The protein found in the animals’ saliva, dander and urine is what causes allergies. Almost 10 million pet owners – including children – are allergic to their animals. The fur of a dog or cat can, however, collect additional allergens such as pollen and mold spores. Cats seem to be more allergenic than dogs. Almost all already-allergic people exposed to cats on a regular basis will become allergic to them as well.If you plan to introduce a pet into your home, have an evaluation by a board certified allergist incluing skin testing. In doing so, you will know for certain to what you are allergic. If found allergic to dogs or cats, consider immunotherapy (allergy shots). These shots will eventually, over a period of time, desensitize you to these animals, so that you may one day be able to have a family pet without compromising your health or well being.