Once an individual develops skin rashes after consuming shrimp, he/she is most likely experiencing a type of food allergy. Shellfish allergy is one of the common food allergies that affect millions of individuals all over the world.
Shrimps are a type of shellfish. Take note that shellfish include both crustaceans and mollusks which includes oysters, clams, abalone, shrimp, squid, lobster and crab. The development of a skin rash is one of the initial signs of an allergic reaction and should not be ignored. Once you suspect that an individual has an allergy to shrimp or other foods, a doctor should be consulted. In most cases, the doctor will conduct testing to confirm the allergy.
How an allergy develops
It is important to note that any allergy to food starts with an unusual immune response. There are certain proteins in shrimp that are wrongly identified by the immune system as a threat to the body. This instigates an immune system response to release the antibodies that attacks these proteins. The next exposure of the individual to shrimps will trigger the release of histamine which is the chemical responsible for the development of skin rashes and other accompanying symptoms.
What are the signs and symptoms?
An allergic reaction to shrimp can trigger the development of a skin rash within minutes up to a few hours after consumption of shrimps. The reaction to shrimp tends to vary where the mild symptoms include skin rashes and itchiness.
As for a stronger reaction, the individual can develop other symptoms including swelling of the face, lips, tongue and mouth as well as hives. For highly sensitive individuals, he/she will experience wheezing, throat tightness and difficulty in breathing or swallowing. Remember that this is a serious reaction that entails immediate medical care. Once the individual develops skin rashes after consuming shrimp, he/she should not eat it again until the allergy is confirmed. An allergic reaction can become progressively worsen after each exposure.
What to do during a severe reaction?
Shrimp and other food allergies are capable of triggering anaphylaxis which is a severe allergic reaction. Take note that this reaction is life-threatening which involves the entire body where histamine is widely released into the bodily tissues. The symptoms typically develop at a rapid pace and include the following:
- Abdominal cramping
- Extreme wheezing
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid heart rate
If this reaction is not promptly managed, it can lead to coma and even death. Always remember that anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate emergency assistance.
Precautions to bear in mind
Once the individual develops a skin rash after consuming shrimp, he/she will have the allergy for a lifetime. It is vital that the individual will avoid any exposure to shrimps or products that might contain shrimp.
All food labels should be carefully read and must indicate if they contain shellfish. When eating outside, the individual should always ask regarding ingredients in a particular dish.
A medical alert bracelet will surely come in handy. It should indicate that the individual is allergic to shrimp. In most cases, antihistamines can be given to alleviate the skin rash and hives, but an injection of epinephrine is required to reverse a severe reaction. A doctor should be consulted if the allergy of the individual is severe, thus an injectable epinephrine must be available at all times.