With food allergies, in addition to your own wellness you must be considerate of your clients. It’s probably best not to serve nuts at the salon, for example. In the consultation or when you ask someone to fill out a new client form, it’s a good idea to ask about allergies. Make sure the client can use the hair and skin care products you recommend—especially if they contain soy or tree nut oil.

This week, May 11-17, is Food Allergy Awareness Week as designated by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). About 15 million Americans suffer from food allergies; some of those are at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis. This year, FARE has expanded this special awareness week and declared the entire month of May as Food Allergy Action Month. Food allergies send people to U.S. hospital emergency rooms every three minutes.

Kasia Organic Salon in Minneapolis has identified eight common foods that cause 90 percent of all food allergies: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, soy, wheat and shellfish. An allergic reaction to food can show up on the skin, in the gastrointestinal tract, in the respiratory tract, and, in the most serious cases, in the cardiovascular system. Symptoms of a food allergy can occur within minutes of eating the food or several hours later.

FARE lists these mild symptoms of a food allergy:
*Hives (reddish, swollen, itchy areas on the skin)
*Eczema (a persistent dry, itchy rash)
*Redness of the skin or around the eyes
*Itchy mouth or ear canal
*Nausea or vomiting
*Diarrhea
*Stomach pain
*Nasal congestion or a runny nose
*Sneezing
*Slight, dry cough
*Odd taste in mouth
*Uterine contractions

According to FARE, the more severe symptoms, which may require immediate treatment, are:
*Obstructive swelling of the lips, tongue, and/or throat
*Trouble swallowing
*Shortness of breath or wheezing
*Turning blue
*Drop in blood pressure (feeling faint, confused, weak, passing out)
*Loss of consciousness
*Chest pain
*A weak or “thread” pulse
*Sense of “impending doom”

To get involved in raising awareness about food allergies, visit the FARE website.