Eczema and Allergic Reaction – triggered by Orgran biscuit

eczema and allergic reaction triggered by biscuit

Eczema and allergic reaction are not the same thing, but they are definitely related, and one can affect the other.

In this article, we dwell into

  • eczema vs allergic reaction: how their effects can build up upon each other,
  • my daughter’s allergic reaction to one particular Orgran biscuit,
  • the ingredients that most likely triggered her reaction,
  • the lessons we learnt through this scary experience.

How do eczema and allergic reaction affect each other

Eczema itself is complicated, due to its many possible causes. The common underlying health issues to eczema are immune system related, as well as shifting of elimination pathways from the organs (kidneys, liver, lungs, etc.) to the skin. People with eczema are more prone to allergic reactions, due to the immunology issues. On the other hand, allergens will quite definitely worsen eczema symptoms, and cause uncomfortable and distressing flares. So eczema and allergic reaction are more complex and intricately linked than many people realise.

Weakened immune system

A massive amount of immune cells reside in our gut, lining the small intestines. So our immune health is directly affected by our diet, whatever choices we make each day, each meal. Every body is different, some can tolerate lots of junk without showing any adverse effects. Others react to even the most healthy foods, because the immune system is not happy with what is passing through the intestinal barrier, so start seeing more and more ‘normal’ stuff as allergens.

Eczema is a result of this reaction, presenting as a quiet, chronic low level inflammation internally. The overworked elimination organs also lead the body to push out the ‘toxic’ stuff through the skin, as it is a non vital organ. These result in the rashes and itch that are so typical of eczema skin.

Allergic reaction causes eczema flares

When an allergic reaction is more acute than the low level background inflammation, it can cause eczema flares – intense itch, red angry inflamed skin that is ten times more than your regular eczema. An acute reaction usually presents quite immediately after exposure to the allergen, and typically lasts for hours.

Medical attention should be sought, especially in the case of young children, as they cannot tell us whether their airway is obstructed from it being inflamed and swollen. ESPECIALLY when you notice puffiness around the eyes, anywhere on the face, as well as neck, it could well mean obstructed airways.

For more information about the links between allergic reactions and eczema, these websites provide good resources:

My daughter’s story

My daughter, M, has several allergies:

  • egg(confirmed through skin prick test)
  • peanut (confirmed through skin prick test)
  • dust mite (confirmed through skin prick test)
  • coconut milk (known through exposure)

Because of these, she has always been on a very clean diet, close to 100% whole foods that are cooked at home, only the occasional healthy processed food whose ingredients had been scrutinised.

Orgran has been one of our trusted brands, as M had tried various treats without any issue, and I had checked those labels and passed them as being clean and made with very few ingredients, which is always a good thing – the fewer the ingredients, the cleaner the product tends to be.

Somehow, the trust led me to become rather careless, as I was in a rush when purchasing this Orgran Amaretti Biscuit for the first time. I didn’t check the ingredients list. My son, also with eczema, loved this biscuit, so from then on, it became a ‘staple’ in our pantry.

M took this biscuit for the first time in her dad’s car, on the way home from school. It only occurred to us after this episode that she had never taken this biscuit before, we took it for granted since it had supposedly been passed, that was why it could have found a place in our pantry.

allergic reaction elbow           allergic reaction hives on face

Just minutes after her first bite, my husband sensed something very wrong as she was fervently scratching at her face, neck, and folds of her elbows. These are her regular eczema spots. Her skin on these areas also became very red and inflamed.

She started breaking out in hives, all over her face. She started to swell on her face and neck, such that it felt hard when we touched, from the swollenness. Her skin also felt hot to the touch. The pictures taken were not at her worst yet.

We immediately administered some anti-histamine medication that we used for running nose, and monitored her closely while she slept it off. That was actually a stupid thing to do, as her breathing could have been obstructed from the swollen airways without anyone ever realising it.

Anyway we were blessed and very fortunate that this acute reaction went away after about 3 to 4 hours.

So began our investigative work.

The ingredients in Orgran Amaretti Biscuit

I was quite appalled that I never saw this ingredients list on the packaging of the biscuit:

Maize Starch, Raw Sugar, Palm Vegetable Oil, Coconut Desiccated (Sulphur Dioxide), Rice Flour, Brown Rice Syrup, Yellow Pea Flour, Natural Amaretto Flavour (0.5%), Emulsifier: Vegetable derived Monoglycerides, Salt, Raising Agent: Sodium Bicarbonate.

I was also surprised that products from the same company could actually be so vastly different, in terms of whether it promoted clean and healthy eating or not. This is definitely NOT what I would call a short ingredients list, not something I would pass to put into my children’s mouths.

The main suspects that triggered M’s allergic reaction: maize starch and coconut desiccated.

At that time, we had not yet discovered her allergy to coconut milk, so we pointed our fingers at the maize starch, as she did have her eczema symptoms worsen before, upon consuming corn, though it was nothing like an acute reaction. But now we know better, as coconut milk has caused her to throw up violently immediately, after taking a few mouthfuls of my homemade ice cream.

On hindsight…

Looking back at the incident, I can only thank my lucky stars that my stupidity did not result in anything more serious. But please do not follow my footsteps of failing to bring the child to the emergency department. When it comes to anything related to breathing, things can happen too fast for us to react. By the time we realise the person is having breathing difficulty, we may be a bit too late in getting the intervention required.

Final thoughts

In most cases, a person with eczema reacts to allergens with greater discomfort, rather than life-threatening situations. But that doesn’t mean we should let our guard down. Eczema and allergic reaction tend to go hand in hand. So every acute reaction must be monitored carefully, and actions taken swiftly. Better be safe than sorry.


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12 thoughts on “Eczema and Allergic Reaction – triggered by Orgran biscuit”

  1. So relieved to know your daughter was alright. What a scary thing to have to go through. I have an allergy to eggs but nothing that intense. My bee allergy yes I need an epipen for. When my egg allergy came about in later life,I started having to look at labels,it still amazes me what is in our food today. Great way to bring some light on what is clean and in most cases green. Even organic we have to watch for because we never know if they actually use certain pesticides.

    • Hi Cathy,

      I hope you never have to use the epipen.

      My daughter has an egg allergy too, but she never had an acute type of reaction even though I sometimes cheated on my own diet while still breastfeeding her. She’d just itch and scratch for days, but nothing life-threatening. 

      Yes, I agree on the fact that there’s so much nonsense in our food these days, once you start to scrutinise the packaging. So natural and whole foods is the way to go, cook your own from scratch. 

  2. I checked out  the Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap and noticed that it contained lavender oil. That seems to be one of those universal botanicals, like chamomile, that are just like mother nature’s go to medicine along with local honey for allergies of course. Although I don’t have eczema, I do have mild psoriasis on my elbows that I have to use 2 different steroidal creams on from time to time, but am always looking for natural alternatives, so my question is… Do you know if Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap is known to work on psoriasis?

    • Hi xSF,

      Frankly, I don’t know of anyone who is using Dr Bronner’s liquid Castile soap to try and heal their psoriasis, but I myself have been using Dr Bronner’s soaps for EVERYTHING around the house for an entire year, my kids with severe eczema are doing well on it. We shower and shampoo with it, I wash the dishes with it, laundry too, as well as all the surfaces around the house, from ceramic tiles and table tops to toilets. Despite all the heavy housework this year, my hands have gotten smoother and softer, nourished by this amazing soap. 

      There are other natural oils used in Dr Bronner’s soaps, giving it the natural fragrances attached to it, including tea tree, peppermint, rose, citrus, etc. You can check them out here

  3. Hi there, Thank you for this very helpful article. I have just begun researching a bit on eczema as I work with young children and have recently had some that suffer from it. I had not given much thought to the internal workings and effects on the external, skin rashes etc. Thank you for reminding me that it can actually be quite a serious condition and to remember to watch for the more life threatening signs. We often associate eczema with only itching and discomfort, and need to be careful that these are not food allergies.

    Thanks again Cass

    • Hi Cass,

      Yes you’re so right. Many people who have not experienced this condition before tend to think it is a surface irritation, but it’s actually an internal issue, some imbalance in elimination, or gut, or triggered by food allergies, etc. And the body is trying to make it known to us. 

  4. Wow, your poor daughter has such severe allergies. That is scary. I get itching and inflamed joints but nothing quite so dramatic as your daughter. I have learned I am allergic to foods on a list a mile long. I can ignore some of those since they are mild but others have very uncomfortable effects such as immediate heartburn.

    I have discovered that taking zinc helps lessen the effects of food allergies. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and has other useful properties. It also helps reduce histamine response! I noticed my joints did not get so red and inflamed when I took zinc.

    Thank you for shedding light on this serious topic! 

    • Hi Jessica,

      I’m sorry about your long list of food allergies, you must have a hard time avoiding them. So it goes back to preparing meals from scratch, I think that’s always the safest route when we have to deal with allergies.

      Thanks for the tip on taking zinc. I will definitely be looking into this. We’re already using zinc oxide creams to deal with any weeping wounds or oozing skin, and it’s amazing, the healing properties of zinc.

  5. Thank you, another great post. How frightening for you , a treat you thought was safe. Yes the least amount of ingredients, certainly is the best.  It always seems to come down to what we put in our bodies. 

    Tell me, an allergy to dust mites? What can you do to limit exposure to these.

    Thank you Joo,


    • Hi Michele,

      Yes, it was definitely a big scare for us. 

      For dust mite allergy, we will have to take care of the home environment, including frequent vacuuming, changing of bedsheets, no carpets if possible, etc. basically just lots of work in minimising places where those little nasties can thrive. I have an earlier post written on this, you may want to take a look here

  6. I suffer from the exact same allergies as your daughter! I get my eczema mostly on my arms and legs and it looks horrible!

    It’s great that your daughter was ok and I’m so glad you shed some light on the importance of reading labels. You never know what in things these days!

    • Hi Holly,
      Yeah it’s so horrible to have all these food allergies, as they’re in so many foods. Only cooking her meals from scratch seems safe to me nowadays.
      You take care!


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