When someone has an egg allergy, the body's immune
system, which normally fights infections, overreacts to proteins in egg. If the
person drinks or eats a product that contains egg, the body thinks these proteins
are harmful invaders. The immune system responds by working very hard to fight off
the invader. This causes an allergic reaction.
Most egg allergies are in kids. Usually, they outgrow it by age 16, but not all
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of an Egg Allergy?
When someone with an egg allergy has something with egg in it, the body releases
. The release of these chemicals can cause someone to have symptoms like:
a drop in blood pressure, causing lightheadedness or loss of consciousness (passing
Allergic reactions to egg can vary. Sometimes the same person can react differently
at different times. Some reactions to egg are mild and involve only one part of the
body, like hives on the skin. But even when someone has had only a mild reaction in
the past, the next reaction can be severe.
Egg allergies can cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis can begin with some of the same symptoms as a less severe reaction, but
can quickly get worse. The person may have trouble breathing or pass out. More than
one part of the body might be involved. If it isn't treated, anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.
How Is an Egg Allergy Diagnosed?
An egg allergy is diagnosed with skin tests or blood tests. A skin test
(also called a scratch test) is the most common allergy
test. Skin testing lets a doctor see in about 15 minutes if someone is sensitive
With this test, the doctor or nurse:
puts a tiny bit of egg extract on the skin
pricks the outer layer of skin or makes a small scratch on the skin
If the area swells up and get red (like a mosquito bite), the person is sensitive
A blood test can be used if a skin test can't be done. It takes a few days/weeks
to get the results of blood tests, though, and these tests are not perfect. It's important
to be checked by a health care provider who has experience with allergy testing.
How Is an Allergic Reaction to Egg Treated?
If you have an egg allergy, always carry two epinephrine auto-injectors in case
of a severe reaction. An epinephrine auto-injector is a prescription
medicine that comes in a small, easy-to-carry container. It's easy to use. Your doctor
will show you how.
The doctor can also give you an allergy action plan, which helps you prepare for,
recognize, and treat an allergic reaction. Share the plan with anyone else who needs
to know, such as relatives, school officials, and coaches. Also consider wearing a
medical alert bracelet.
Every second counts in an allergic reaction. If you start having
serious allergic symptoms, like swelling of the mouth or throat or trouble breathing,
use the epinephrine auto-injector right away. Also use it right away if your symptoms
involve two different parts of the body, like hives with vomiting. Then call 911 and
have someone take you to the emergency room. You need to be under medical supervision
because even if the worst seems to have passed, a second wave of serious symptoms
What Can I Do?
If you have an egg allergy, avoid eating egg. Read food
labels carefully, because ingredients can change and egg can be found in unexpected
Some foods look OK from the ingredient list, but while being made they can come
in contact with egg. This is called cross-contamination. Look for
advisory statements such as "may contain egg," "processed in a facility
that also processes egg," or "manufactured on equipment also used for egg."
Not all companies label for cross-contamination, so if in doubt, call or email the
company to be sure.
You and anyone else preparing your food should wash hands well with soap and water
before touching it. Always wash
your hands before eating. If you don't have soap and water, you can use hand-cleaning
wipes. But don't use hand sanitizer gels or sprays. Hand sanitizers only get rid of
germs — they don't get rid of egg proteins.
At home, keep foods that contain egg in a separate part of your kitchen so they
don't contaminate your food. When preparing food, wash dishes and utensils with dishwashing
soap and hot water to remove any traces of egg.
When eating away from home, keep your epinephrine auto-injector with you and make
sure that it hasn't expired. Also, tell the people preparing or serving your food
about the egg allergy. Sometimes, you may want to bring food with you that you know
is safe. Don't eat at the restaurant if the chef, manager, or owner seems uncomfortable
with your request for a safe meal.
What Else Should I Know?
In the past, anyone with an egg allergy needed to talk to a doctor about whether
getting the flu vaccine
was safe because it is grown inside eggs. But health experts now say that people with
egg allergy aren't at higher risk for a reaction to the flu vaccine. This is probably
because the levels of egg allergen in the vaccine are so tiny that it's safe even
for those with a severe egg allergy. The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone older
than 6 months of age during flu season.
If you're worried, you can get the flu shot in a doctor's office, where the health
care provider can watch for and treat any reaction.