Egg allergy factsheet

Introduction

Egg allergy is one of the most common food allergies in children. It is usually found between 6 and 15 months of age when your child starts to eat solids and is introduced to eggs. Many children with egg allergies will outgrow it by the time they start school.

Like any other allergy, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor before reintroducing foods that have previously caused an allergic reaction. 

 Signs and symptoms

Allergic reactions can be fast and happen within minutes of exposure to eggs.

Reactions can include:

  • hives or welts on the skin
  • redness of the skin
  • vomiting and stomach ache
  • tingling and swelling of the mouth, lips, face, and eyes.

Some children can develop a delayed reaction to eggs that takes hours or days. 

If your child is showing signs of an allergic reaction for the first time, see your local doctor as soon as possible. 

Anaphylaxis

Signs of anaphylaxis include: 

  • wheezing, difficult, or noisy breathing 
  • swelling of the tongue
  • swelling or tightness in the throat
  • a persistent cough
  • difficulty talking or a hoarse voice
  • dizziness
  • becoming pale and floppy in young children
  • collapsing.

If your child has signs of anaphylaxis, you should:

  • follow your child’s ASCIA action plan for anaphylaxis if you have one
  • use an EpiPen or Anapen, if available
  • call Triple Zero (000) for an ambulance.

Diagnosis

If you think your child has had an allergic reaction that is not anaphylaxis, write down the following and see your local doctor as soon as possible:

  • time the egg was eaten
  • time of reaction
  • type of reaction
  • amount of egg eaten
  • how it was prepared - for example, baked or cooked.

A specialist doctor can diagnose an egg allergy based on your child’s:

Some children will grow out of their egg allergy. 

A food challenge can be done to figure out whether your child has grown out of their allergy and whether egg can be reintroduced to their diet safely. Food challenges should only be done under the supervision of a doctor in the hospital. 

Treatment

Your child's doctor will find the best possible treatment for their allergy based on their individual health needs. 

Your child’s doctor will develop an ASCIA Action plan to share with anyone who cares for your child, including parents, carers, childcare and schools. 

ASCIA Action plans are used to manage allergies and allergic reactions safely.

Children at risk of anaphylaxis will also need an adrenaline autoinjector, also known as an EpiPen® or Anapen®.

Your child will also need to learn to identify foods containing eggs as they age and become more independent with their diet.

 Management

Types of egg allergy

Parts of an egg can changed by heat used in cooking and may become less likely to cause a reaction. 

Many children with egg allergies can eat eggs when baked into cakes and biscuits. Speak to your child’s doctor before trying baked foods containing eggs.

Your child’s doctor will be able to determine which type of egg allergy your child has and whether they can eat eggs prepared in a certain way.

Common sources of egg

Some foods will visibly contain eggs, such as frittata and fried rice. Eggs are also used as a binder, which helps ingredients stick together. Because eggs are a common ingredient in foods, they can be difficult to avoid.

Some common foods that contain eggs include:

  • baked goods - for example, cake, muffins, and biscuits
  • desserts - for example, custard, meringue, ice cream, and pudding
  • battered and crumbed foods - for example, fish fingers and chicken schnitzel
  • noodles and pasta - except where specified, like rice noodles
  • dips and sauces - for example, mayonnaise and carbonara.

Always check the package and ingredients list of all foods.

Eggs, food labels and eating out

It is important to always check the package and ingredient list of all foods your child eats.

In Australia, allergens are bolded each time they appear in an ingredient list. Packaged foods may have a warning on the label that they "may contain traces of egg."

This means the food is made in a facility that also makes foods that contain eggs. Speak to your doctor about whether your child needs to avoid these foods.

Always tell the staff that your child has an egg allergy when eating out. This will help you find safe foods and avoid contamination. 

If you cannot confirm that food does not contain eggs, it is safest for your child to avoid it.

Talk to your child’s doctor about what foods containing eggs are safe if you are unsure.

Vaccination and egg allergy

Babies and children with egg allergies can safely have the:

Speak to your child’s doctor if you have concerns about egg allergy and vaccinations.

Egg substitutes

An egg-free diet can be difficult, but making baked goods and other foods using egg substitutes is possible.

Egg substitutes are used in cooking to replicate things like texture and binding. They are not a nutritional substitute for eggs.

Some common egg substitutes for baking include:

  • 1 egg = 1 teaspoon baking powder + 1 tablespoon liquid (like water, juice, or milk)
  • 1 egg = 1 teaspoon baking powder +1 tablespoon liquid (like water, juice, or milk) + 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 egg = 1 tablespoon jam or golden syrup
  • 1 egg = 1 ½ tablespoons water + 1 ½ tablespoons oil + 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg = ¼ cup mashed banana or apple puree

Your local supermarket may also sell egg substitutes labelled for plant-based or vegan diets. 

These products can include powdered egg replacers and liquid plant-based eggs for frying and scrambling. They will usually contain ingredients like potato or tapioca starch and vegetable gums.

Aquafaba is water from a can of chickpeas. It is a popular egg white substitute for making meringue and creamy sauces.

Education

Some children are more at risk of having an egg allergy. Risk factors include:

The most important thing you can do is support your child in avoiding eggs in their diet. You can also educate your child, family, and friends about allergies, reactions, and what to do in an emergency. The ASCIA Action Plan should be followed if your child has an allergic reaction. Inform your child’s childcare or school about their allergy and provide a copy of their action plan.

Parents of younger children must read ingredient lists and learn to find eggs in foods and drinks.

Older children can be supported in learning to read ingredient lists and find eggs in foods. 

This can help keep children safe and encourage them to be more independent and confident about their diet and health as they grow.

Resources and more information

The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

title
The Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Biography
Provides resources including fact sheets, e-training and information on locating allergy specialists.
Related Links
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia - Your trusted charity for allergy support

title
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia

Phone1300 728 000
Biography
Provides valuable updates and tips for dealing with food allergies.
Related Links
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ)

title
Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ)

Biography
Part of the Australian Government's Health portfolio and provides detailed information on food labelling.
Related Links
Last updated Tuesday 18th June 2024

Disclaimer

This factsheet is provided for general information only. It does not constitute health advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition.

Please consult with your doctor or other health professional to make sure this information is right for you and/or your child.

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network does not accept responsibility for inaccuracies or omissions, the interpretation of the information, or for success or appropriateness of any treatment described in the factsheet.

© Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network 2024


This factsheet was produced with support from John Hunter Children's Hospital.