Do you ever notice yourself breaking out in an itchy skin rash after eating a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast or getting an upset stomach after drinking an oat milk cappuccino on your way to work?
If this sounds familiar, you might be allergic or sensitive to avenin – a protein in oats.
Throughout this post, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about:
- Why some people are allergic to oats, and how an allergic reaction works
- The key symptoms of an allergic reaction to oats
- How to treat and prevent skin irritations caused by oat allergies
Keep reading to learn more about whether you might be living with an oat allergy, helping you to identify the early signs and treat your symptoms today.
Why Do Oats Cause An Allergic Reaction?
Avenin is a protein found within oats that is similar to gluten.
For people with an oat allergy, whenever your body comes into contact with avenin, your immune system triggers an inflammatory response, flooding your bloodstream with histamine and other defensive chemicals.
An allergic reaction to oats may be caused by consuming oats directly or using skin-care and hygiene products containing oat powder.
Oat Allergies vs. Oat Sensitivity
While your immune system drives allergic reactions, oat sensitivity is caused by your body’s inability to properly digest oats, leading to gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, nausea, and diarrhea.
The impacts of a food sensitivity tend to be milder than that of a food allergy.
Who Is Most At Risk of an Oat Allergy?
Studies have shown that people with a family history of other food allergies are more likely to develop an allergic reaction to oats.
Two of the most common forms of eczema are atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis, characterized by an itchy rash. For people with eczema-prone skin, exposure to allergens such as oats may trigger an eczema flare-up.
Oat Allergy Symptoms
Oat proteins act as both respiratory and skin allergens, triggering various symptoms. Typically, symptoms tend to appear immediately after oat consumption; however, in the case of a delayed allergic reaction, you may start to feel the effects within four to six hours or even longer.
Some of the most common mild oat allergy symptoms include:
- Skin reactions including itchy skin, blotching, and increased sensitivity, particularly on or around the mouth
- Scratchy feeling on your lips, tongue, and throat
- Nasal congestion and a runny nose
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Stomach cramps
In the case of a severe allergic reaction, you may also experience:
- Severe gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting
- Swelling and scratching of the tongue and throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
- Anaphylactic shock
For children and babies too, food allergies may also lead to a further complication called protein–induced enterocolitis syndrome (otherwise known as FPIES), triggering vomiting, diarrhea, and severe dehydration.
If you believe that you or a loved one are experiencing any severe allergic reaction symptoms, we urge you to seek immediate medical attention. In the case of anaphylactic shock, your doctor may be able to prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector, which can help reverse life-threatening symptoms in emergencies.
Oat Allergies and Gluten Intolerance: What’s The Link?
If your oatmeal smoothie triggers a skin reaction or digestive issues, you might not be allergic to oats at all, but rather, you could have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Gluten is a protein found within wheat, and while oats themselves do not contain gluten, they will often be grown alongside wheat in the same fields and processed in the same factories, too.
To avoid cross-contamination, therefore, if you suspect you’re sensitive to gluten, we recommend you buy gluten-free oats to be safe.
How To Diagnose Oat Intolerance
As we’ve seen, diagnosing an oat allergy can be tricky – especially when many of the symptoms may resemble an oat sensitivity or celiac disease.
To get to the bottom of your symptoms, your allergist will typically run some tests, including:
- Blood tests
- A skin prick test
- An oat allergy patch test
If you suspect that you might have a food allergy, it is often helpful to start keeping a food diary to track your symptoms.
Your doctor might advise you to start an elimination diet, informing you about the foods to avoid and which oat-based skin-care and hygiene products to move away from too. Talking to a dietician may also be a helpful way to learn about oat alternatives, such as chia seeds, ground flax, or rice bran.
Treating An Oat Allergy Skin Rash
Whether you’re coping with a mild, itchy rash or a full-blown, oat-induced eczema flare-up, we’ve got some tips to help you soothe your aggravated skin.
Use An Anti-Itch Moisturizer
This deeply nourishing Organic Manuka Skin Soothing Cream is made from 16+ New Zealand active manuka honey, olive oil, and beeswax to heal and hydrate even the driest, cracked, or inflamed skin.
Bursting with natural anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, this buttery balm is safe for babies and effective for adults.
Lather onto your skin twice daily or as often as needed to help curb your itchy skin rash.
Wear Hypoallergenic Clothing
When coping with a skin reaction, there’s nothing worse than wearing tight or itchy clothing that could further irritate your skin.
Instead, opt for breathable, comfortable, hypoallergenic clothing to aid your skin’s natural healing process.
For your little ones, we’d recommend these 100% Organic Cotton Scratch Mittens Top for Kids to help break the itch-scratch cycle. The organic cotton material is a soft, medium weight that is suitable for all climates.
For adults, too, 100% Organic Cotton Closed Eczema Mittens for Adults can help ensure you get a more restful night’s sleep, affording your skin the time it needs to recover.
Try A Natural Soap
The Emily Liquid Soap Soother – Shampoo & Natural Body Wash for Eczema with Chinese Herbs provides an extra moisturizing, silky, soft bathing experience and is gentle for babies but effective for adults. Use this natural body wash for eczema from head to toe.
Free from parabens, sodium laurel, or laureth sulfate, rather than stripping your skin of its natural oils, this soap uses the principles of Chinese medicine to moisturize and cleanse your sensitive skin deeply.
Heal Your Oat Allergy Symptoms Today
Follow these tips to help you determine whether oats could impact your overall health, recognizing, treating, and preventing your allergy symptoms today.