What are the symptoms of milk allergy

What are the symptoms of milk allergy

Sheet final reviewed: 12 July
Next review due: 12 July

Milk allergies, also described as dairy allergies, are the most common food allergy in children and adults. An allergy to cow's milk is generally evident within the first year of life. Children who are allergic to milk can develop symptoms such as a rash, stomach upset, vomiting, and swelling.

People with a milk allergy develop these symptoms because the immune system reacts to substances in the milk.

What are the symptoms of milk allergy

If your kid has a milk allergy, this is diverse from lactose intolerance, a extremely common problem which is caused by a deficiency in lactase (an enzyme that breaks below the lactose protein in milk).

Milk is wealthy in protein and calcium. If your kid can't own milk because of an allergy, there are numerous dairy-free sources of these nutrients, and your kid will probably love at least a few of the options.

Could it be lactose intolerance?

Lactose intolerance is another type of reaction to milk, when the body cannot digest lactose, a natural sugar found in milk.

What are the symptoms of milk allergy

However, this is not an allergy.

Lactose intolerance can be temporary – for example, it can come on for a few days or weeks after a tummy bug.

Symptoms of lactose intolerance include:

  1. stomach rumbling and pains
  2. diarrhoea 
  3. vomiting
  4. wind


An allergic reaction to dairy products may cause immediate effects or a delayed reaction after consuming milk. There are a number of diverse symptoms that can develop.

Common effects of a milk allergy can include any of the following:

  1. Nasal allergy symptoms, such as a runny nose and watery eyes
  2. Digestive problems
  3. Pain when swallowing
  4. Eczema itchy, red patches on the skin
  5. Blood-streaked stools
  6. Hives
  7. Abdominal pain and discomfort
  8. Diarrhea
  9. Vomiting
  10. Asthma symptoms, such as wheezing

Milk Allergies in Infants

Babies don't own the ability to complain, so manifestations of a milk allergy can be hard to recognize.

What are the symptoms of milk allergy

A kid might be fussy, irritable, and weep. Because babies eat every few hours, it is always clear that the symptoms are related to eating.

Children may eventually experience weight loss due to digestive problems, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hold track of your baby's weight gain—stagnating weight or weight loss is typically described as failure to thrive, which is a serious problem that can affect a baby's development for the endless term.


Generally, milk allergies are not life-threatening.

What are the symptoms of milk allergy

But some children experience own severe reactions to milk.

Signs of a milk allergy-induced medical emergency include:

  1. Swelling around the mouth or lips
  2. Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  3. Anaphylaxis

Symptoms of cows’ milk allergy

Cows’ milk allergy can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:

  1. hay fever-like symptoms – such as a runny or blocked nose
  2. skin reactions – such as a red itchy rash or swelling of the lips, face and around the eyes
  3. digestive problems – such as stomach ache, vomiting, colic, diarrhoea or constipation
  4. eczema that does not improve with treatment

Occasionally CMA can cause severe allergic symptoms that come on suddenly, such as swelling in the mouth or throat, wheezing, cough, shortness of breath, and difficult, noisy breathing.

A severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, is a medical emergency – call or go immediately to your local hospital A&E department.

Treatment for CMA

If your baby is diagnosed with CMA, you’ll be offered advice by your GP or an allergy specialist on how to manage their allergy.

What are the symptoms of milk allergy

You may also be referred to a dietitian.

Treatment involves removing every cows’ milk from your child’s diet for a period of time.

If your baby is formula-fed, your GP can prescribe special baby formula.

Do not give your kid any other type of milk without first getting medical advice.

If your baby is exclusively breastfed, the mom will be advised to avoid every cows’ milk products.

What are the symptoms of milk allergy

Your kid should be assessed every 6 to 12 months to see if they own grown out of their allergy.

Read more about cows’ milk allergy.

Treatment for lactose intolerance

Treatment depends on the extent of your child’s intolerance. Some children with lactose intolerance may be capable to own little amounts of dairy products without having symptoms.

Your kid may be referred to a dietitian for specialist advice.

Read more about treatment for lactose intolerance in children.

Cows’ milk allergy in babies

Cows’ milk allergy (CMA), also called cows’ milk protein allergy, is one of the most common childhood food allergies.

What are the symptoms of milk allergy

It is estimated to affect around 7% of babies under 1, though most children grow out of it by the age of 5.

CMA typically develops when cows’ milk is first introduced into your baby’s diet either in formula or when your baby starts eating solids.

More rarely, it can affect babies who are exclusively breastfed because of cows’ milk from the mother’s diet passing to the baby through breast milk.

There are 2 main types of CMA:

  1. immediate CMA – where symptoms typically start within minutes of having cows’ milk
  2. delayed CMA – where symptoms typically start several hours, or even days, after having cows’ milk