What Are the Symptoms of Red Dye Allergy?

symptoms-red-dye-allergy Credit: AlekZotoff/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Also referred to as Red 40 or food coloring #2, red dye is a food coloring and preservative that may cause itchiness or hives, gastrointestinal difficulties, respiratory problems and anaphylactic sock in sensitive individuals, according to HowStuffWorks. Other symptoms associated with the dye include joint pain, lack of appetite, insomnia, dizziness, low blood pressure and a fast pulse. ADHD may be caused by the dye as well.

According to AllergySymptomsX.com, red dye is found in red candies, cereals, chocolates, bubble gum, toothpaste, mouthwash and cough syrup. The coloring is also included in such non-edibles as cosmetics and shampoos.

Red dye may be referred to as carmine, carminic acid and crimson lake on food listings. Allergic reactions to insect-based red dyes, such as carmine, can result in anaphylaxis, whereas red dye colors, such as annatto, which comes from the achiote tree, can produce allergic responses that involve the digestive tract, respiration or the skin. Tattoos using red dyes can be also be the source of an allergy.

To treat a red-dye allergy, such as respiratory difficulty, antihistamines or anti-allergy medications are often recommended. Skin conditions are often relieved with the use of ointments.

According to HowStuffWorks, allergic reactions associated with artificial red dyes do not involve immune system functioning, whereas natural red colorings do. Anaphylaxis, which results from severe reactions to natural dyes, is defined by low blood pressure, dizziness, rapid pulse, constricted airways and, in some cases, a loss of consciousness. Adrenaline or epinephrine is typically administered to treat the reaction.