Bringing food allergy management and awareness to your community

Skin Contact With Food Allergen

PREVIOUS MYTH: We can't afford a full-time school nurs
NEXT MYTH: The smell of peanut butter will cause an allergic reaction in someone with a peanut allergy


Staff Training: Food Allergies & Anaphylaxis in School – What School Staff Need to KnowStaff Training: Food Allergies & Anaphylaxis in School – What School Staff Need to Know

This 30 minute module is designed to assist the school nurse in staff training of management of life-threatening allergic reactions and increase food allergy awareness for all school staff including teachers, food service personnel, administrators, aides, specialists, coaches, bus drivers, custodians and others.


You will experience a severe allergic reaction if the food that you are allergic to touches your skin.



Healthy skin is a good barrier. Although local skin reactions do occur, isolated contact with intact skin is very unlikely to cause an anaphylactic reaction. More severe reactions can occur if the allergen then gets in the mouth, eyes or nose.



Two studies looked at the effect of skin contact with food allergen (Study 1, Study 2) .  In both studies the subjects were allergic to peanut and had peanut butter placed on intact skin.  Although local rash was seen in about a third of the subjects, no one experienced a full body or severe allergic reaction. Keep in mind though that if someone with a food allergy were to touch an allergen with their hand and put it in their mouth, it is as if they’re eating it.  This is very relevant in young children who are exploring their environment with their hands and their mouths. Although the above is reassuring, it is always necessary to prevent skin contact with allergens. Lotions, creams, some soaps and other topical items may also contain food allergens.  Reading the labels for these is important. It’s important to wash  hands before rubbing eyes, or putting fingers in the mouth or nose.


Food Allergen Exposure in the School Setting: A handy reference table that reviews evidence, challenges, and interventions for exposure to food allergens.
Living Confidently With Food Allergy: Avoiding Food Allergen: Chapter from parent handbook that reviews common routes of exposure.


  1. Nicas, M., and Best, D.J. “A study quantifying the hand-to-face contact rate and its potential application to predicting respiratory tract infection.” Journal of Occupational Environmental Hygiene 5.6 (2008): 347-52.
  2. Simonte, S.J. et al. “Relevance of casual contact with peanut butter in children with peanut allergy.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 112.1 (2003): 180-182.
  3. Tulve, N. et al.“Frequency of mouthing behavior in young children.” Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology 12 (2002): 259–264.
  4. Wainstein, B.K. et al. “Combining skin prick, immediate skin application and specific-IgE testing in the diagnosis of peanut allergy in children.” Pediatric Allergy and Immunology 18 (2007): 231–239.

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