Fighting to Avoid an Allergic Reaction and Eczema Flare

I’ve been allergic to red dye for my entire life and it’s also a major trigger for my eczema. Nowadays, people completely understand when I say I can’t have a drink or a piece of candy because it has red dye, but it wasn’t always like that.

Definitely not a joke

When I was younger people would think I was making it up or they thought I was making a joke. Um, throwing up and breaking out in hives is definitely no joke. It was difficult as a kid trying to get people to understand and it was difficult to discipline myself to tell people about my allergy and not eat anything with it.

The birthday my parents almost killed me

I found out about my allergy the hard way. On my 7th birthday, I asked for a pink and purple cake and my parents granted my request. I became sick that evening. I kept throwing up and I broke out in hives. To stop the hives my mom gave me liquid Benadryl, but it didn’t help and I continued to get worse.

Double whammy

The next day my mother took me to the doctor and we found out that I was allergic to red dye. My mom was horrified with guilt for feeding me a cake full of it and then medicating me with pink Benadryl.

Pink, purple, orange, red, it’s all the same

I wasn’t very happy about having to cut out red dye. However, the alternative of constant vomiting, shivers, hives and general sickness that’d I get from having it, was enough to make me go “Yeah no it’s not worth it.” So I became very vocal about this allergy to people.

Kids say the darndest things

One day at vacation bible school I was at the snack station and I saw they were serving pink lemonade. I asked if they had any normal lemonade and they said no. So I explained that I couldn’t have red dye. They looked at me and said, “But its pink!” Now, even as a child, I realized how stupid that comment was. I told them I still couldn’t have it because of the red dye and if I drank it I’d vomit on them. They didn’t like hearing that. Eventually one of my parents had to be called over to confirm that I was indeed allergic to red dye.

Now they listen

As I’ve gotten older, people take me seriously when I tell them about my allergy. It still throws people off guard and they don’t always know what to do.

Acknowledging my needs

One time at camp, I caught a cold, so I went to the nurses building and asked for some medicine. She handed me a red allergy pill. I looked at her and said “I’m pretty sure it’s in my paperwork, but I’m allergic to red dye. I can’t take this.” She looked at me with wide eyes, checked my papers then grabbed the pill and said “Gosh I’m so sorry. But because of this, I can’t help you at all. We don’t have any pills without red.” I looked at her with a blank face. I decided to go home early because of how bad the cold was getting. It was frustrating that they only had medicine with red dye and couldn’t help me, but it was great to have someone actually acknowledge it and not try to shove it down my throat.

Kids know their bodies

It’s gotten much better as time has gone on, but it was extremely annoying as a child. Even if red dye only triggered my eczema, people should listen to kids more when they speak up. They shouldn’t be dismissed just because they're a kid.

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