Photos of Common Food Allergy Symptoms

Food allergies can produce symptoms that affect many different parts of your body, including your skin, stomach, airway, and eyes. Likewise, signs of a food allergy can range from a small rash or a patch of dry-seeming skin to severe, life-threatening problems such as trouble breathing.

These photos illustrate some of the common reactions that food allergies may cause, including hives, eczema, itchy, reddened eyes (called allergic conjunctivitis), swelling of the lips, and abdominal pain. Overall, once you're aware of the range of symptoms you can experience from your food allergy, you'll be better prepared to spot reactions.

Even so, be sure to discuss your unique symptoms and food allergens with your allergist, so that together you can devise a treatment plan that entails both an action plan and trigger avoidance.

8 Most Common Food Allergies

There are many different types of food allergies. These "big eight" allergens account for about 90% of food allergy reactions:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Hives (Urticaria)

rash on arm

Dr P. Marazzi / Science Photo Library / Getty Images 

Hives (known in medical parlance as urticaria) is a common symptom of food allergies and can appear anywhere on the body. Hives are especially likely in people who have allergies to peanuts, eggs, nuts, and shellfish, although they can occur in any type of food allergy.

When a person develops hives, he or she may first experience itching within a patch of skin. Bumps form and when raised can appear as a rash. These bumps, which are called wheals and have obvious edges, may be the color of your normal skin, or they may appear red.

It may surprise you to learn that when a person experiences hives, the wheals can appear, change shape, and disappear very quickly. Also, hives don't always itch, but most do feel itchy to some degree.

Another "hives clue" is that when you press the center of a wheal on a person's skin with hives, the wheal will turn white, and this is called "blanching." Generally speaking, hives aren't life-threatening, but they're are annoying and uncomfortable.

If you get hives that are accompanied by swelling around your lips, face, or eyes, or if you're suddenly having trouble breathing, you may be having a serious allergic reaction and you should seek medical help immediately.


This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

eczema skin rash

Mion / Phanie / Getty Images 

Eczema is an itchy, scaly, rash that may be caused by food allergies, especially in very young children. When you have eczema, your skin is inflamed and develops dry patches that flake off.

Foods that commonly trigger eczema include dairy, nuts, wheat, soy, and eggs. Touching the allergic food and eating it both can cause skin reactions.

Of course, food allergies aren't the only possible triggers for eczema. For example, sometimes, eczema is caused by something you're using on your skin, or by something in the air, such as cat dander.

It's worthy to note too that eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, often appears in a baby's first year, and usually occurs on the face, cheeks, or around the mouth. Healthcare providers recommend wrapping babies to prevent them from scratching at their eczema, since the condition is incredibly itchy, and scratching can lead to infection.

Itchy Red Eyes (Allergic Conjunctivitis)

Some people with allergies suffer from itchy, watery, and swollen eyes. This condition is called allergic conjunctivitis, and although it's more commonly caused by pollen in the air than it is with food, it's also possible to get these swollen eyes from food allergies.

An anaphylactic reaction can include this allergy symptom, so if you experience itchy, swollen eyes in concert with other symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as trouble breathing, you should seek emergency medical attention.

Swelling of the Lips, Mouth, or Tongue (Angioedema)

woman with a swollen lip having an allergic reaction
susandaniels / Getty Images

Angioedema is swelling of the lips, mouth, or the tongue under the skin. It's similar to hives but occurs under the skin, and it can be a sign of an anaphylactic reaction resulting from food allergies or other forms of allergy.

Food allergies that have been linked with this symptom include berries, fish, shellfish, nuts, milk, and eggs.

Abdominal Pain

a man holding his abdomen in pain
Jan-Otto / Getty Images

Abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea within two hours of eating, or often within minutes of consuming a problematic food, can be signs of a food allergy.

That said, the digestive symptoms of food allergy are easy to confuse with digestive symptoms from food intolerances. However, a true food allergy usually involves your skin and respiratory system along with your digestive system.

A Word From Verywell

Not every rash or stomach ache indicates you have a food allergy, as many of the symptoms pictured above can be caused by conditions other than food allergy.

However, if you experience symptoms like these, especially if they develop suddenly and you have several symptoms at once, you should seek medical help. If you're confused about whether occasional symptoms you experience could mean you have a food allergy, talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested.

Food Allergies Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Food Allergy.

  2. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Hives (Urticaria). Updated June 11, 2018.

  3. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Overview.

  4. KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation. Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis). Updated September 2019.

  5. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Eye Allergies.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. Urticaria (Hives) and Angioedema. Updated January 15, 2014.

  7. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Food Intolerance Versus Food Allergy.