My son is highly allergic to red dye #40. It took a great deal of trial and error to narrow the culprit down, and some doctors still don’t believe anyone could be that allergic to food dye approved by the FDA.
Red dye #40 has been banned for use in children’s products in some countries, yet it has been allowed as “safe” for use here in America. If something is artificially colored red, pink, purple, or orange, chances are it contains Red Dye #40. They use it to make chocolate look “richer” and baked goods look more “golden”.
It can be found in almost everything – white and yellow store bought cake mixes, chocolate pudding mix, refrigerated crescent rolls, Kool-Aid, candy, cereals, Pop Tarts, cough syrup, Benadryl (how ironic!), cold medicine, and scores of other products. We’ve taught our son to READ ALL LABELS to be sure he doesn’t ingest it.
The problem for us started when he was a toddler. He had recurrent ear infections and a lot of allergy problems in general. Our family doctor put him on D’Allergy syrup (which coincidentally also contains Red Dye #40). For many months, he had no outward appearance of having an allergic reaction to the allergy medication. During one of his ear infections, he had a severe allergic reaction where he broke out in hives from head to toe and started swelling. The doctor decided he was allergic to the antibiotic and switched him to something else. Over the following months, he broke out in hives repeatedly, with no rhyme or reason as to what caused the outbreak. We tried eliminating various foods from his diet and using different laundry detergents, etc. Nothing seemed to be the trigger.
It was only after a family friend told us she removed all red dye #40 from her kids diet that we had an “a ha!” moment. We took him off of D’Allergy and carefully watched everything he ate to be sure there was no artificial red dye in it. The hives stopped immediately, and when red dye was re-introduced to his diet, the hives started back up. I cannot tell you the relief it was to finally know what the problem was, and also how frustrating because the very thing that was supposed to be helping him was making him worse!
Red dye can also cause hyperactivity in children among many other problems. The symptoms we deal with are severe hives from head to toe, swelling, and nose pouring. Prescription Atarax usually stops it in its tracks, but it has been bad enough in the past that we’ve had to use steroids also (and some brands of the steroids contain Red Dye #40 – we had that happen when we rushed him to the ER one evening after eating some Red Dye in a school lunch. The ER doctor informed me that she had never heard of anyone being allergic to Red Dye and acted like I was an imbecile. She put him on Benadryl (I chose the Dye Free kind) and a steroid that had Red Dye in it. He kept getting worse even on the meds, and I finally realized what the problem was and stopped the steroids immediately – he got better quickly after that. )
We have also used the herb Yellow Dock with good success when he has inadvertantly eaten something with Red Dye, which is rare nowdays. Another thing that relieves itching is to take an old sock, pour 1 cup of dry oatmeal into it, tie the top off, and throw it into a hot bath. Rub the sock all over the inflamed skin, and it helps tremendously.
For more information, visit the website http://red40.com/ . There are other dyes that can also cause serious problems, but from our experience, Red Dye #40 is the worst.