What does a milk allergy rash look like in adults
The body digests lactose using a substance called lactase.
This breaks below lactose into 2 sugars called glucose and galactose, which can be easily absorbed into the bloodstream.
People with lactose intolerance do not produce enough lactase, so lactose stays in the digestive system, where it’s fermented by bacteria.
This leads to the production of various gases, which cause the symptoms associated with lactose intolerance.
Depending on the underlying reason why the body’s not producing enough lactase, lactose intolerance may be temporary or permanent.
Most cases that develop in adults are inherited and tend to be lifelong, but cases in young children are often caused by an infection in the digestive system and may only final for a few weeks.
In the UK, lactose intolerance is more common in people of Asian or African-Caribbean descent.
Lactose intolerance can develop at any age. Numerous cases first develop in people aged 20 to 40, although babies and young children can also be affected.
Some children can own a mixed reaction where they experience both IgE symptoms, such as swelling, and non-IgE symptoms, such as constipation.
This can happen to children who own a milk allergy.
The symptoms of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) can be sudden and get worse extremely quickly.
Initial symptoms of anaphylaxis are often the same as those listed above and can lead to:
- trouble swallowing or speaking
- tight chest
- breathing difficulties
- feeling dizzy or faint
- swollen tongue
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Without quick treatment, it can be life threatening.
If you ponder you or someone you know is experiencing anaphylaxis, dial 999 and enquire for an ambulance as soon as possible.
Symptoms of lactose intolerance
Symptoms of lactose intolerance usually develop within a few hours of consuming food or drink that contains lactose.
They may include:
- stomach cramps and pains
- a bloated stomach
- stomach rumbling
- feeling ill
The severity of your symptoms and when they appear depends on the quantity of lactose you own consumed.
Some people may still be capable to drink a little glass of milk without triggering any symptoms, while others may not even be capable to own milk in their tea or coffee.
Non-IgE-mediated food allergy
Another type of allergic reaction is a non-IgE-mediated food allergy.
The symptoms of this type of allergy can take much longer to develop – sometimes up to several days.
Some symptoms of a non IgE-mediated food allergy may be what you would expect to see in an allergic reaction, such as:
- redness and itchiness of the skin – although not a raised, itchy red rash (hives)
- the skin becomes itchy, red, dry and cracked (atopic eczema)
Other symptoms can be much less obvious and are sometimes thought of as being caused by something other than an allergy. They include:
- abdominal cramps
- vomiting with or without diarrhoea
- in babies: excessive and inconsolable crying, even though the baby is well fed and doesn’t need a nappy change (colic).
When to seek medical advice
The symptoms of lactose intolerance can be similar to several other conditions, so it’s significant to see your GP for a diagnosis before removing milk and dairy products from your diet.
For example, the symptoms above can also be caused by:
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a long-term disorder that affects the digestive system
- milk protein intolerance – an adverse reaction to the protein in milk from cows (not the same as a milk allergy)
If your GP thinks you have lactose intolerance, they may propose avoiding foods and drinks containing lactose for 2 weeks to see if your symptoms improve.
Exercise-induced food allergy
In some cases, a food allergy can be triggered after eating a certain food and then exercising.
This can lead to anaphylaxis in severe cases, sometimes known as food-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis.
Drinking alcohol or taking an non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen may also trigger an allergy in people with this syndrome.
Sheet final reviewed: 15 April 2019
Next review due: 15 April 2022
Lactose intolerance is a common digestive problem where the body is unable to digest lactose, a type of sugar mainly found in milk and dairy products.