Ask Dr. Nandi: Skin patch could help kids with peanut allergies

Posted at 5:56 PM, Oct 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-31 17:56:12-04

A new study funded by the National Institutes of Health followed 74 peanut-allergic volunteers for a year. 

Ranging in ages 4 through 20, everyone wore a skin patch that delivered a small dose of peanut protein. 

Researchers found nearly half were able to eat roughly 10 times more peanut protein than prior to treatment.  The age group that benefitted the most where kids between 4 and 11 years old.

Quarter-sized patches were place on the inside of upper arms or on the backs of younger kids. The small daily dose of peanut protein trained the skin's immune system to tolerate small amounts of peanuts.

This is not going to allow a person allergic to peanuts to eat a bunch of peanut products. Increasing someone's tolerance by a couple of peanuts is more likely going to protect them from accidental exposure to peanuts.

Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies and can be deadly for those who have severe reactions. So here are my prescriptions:

Partha’s RX:
1. Always read food labels looking for peanuts.  Ingredients can change without warning.
2. Be careful of products prepared in a factory with processed peanuts.  Even trace amounts can be dangerous.
3.It’s best to prepare meals and snacks at home.  This gives you control over what you or your child eats.
4. Always be prepared for a reaction.  Carry emergency medications at all times.

A placebo controlled study found children exposed to open peanut butter had no systemic reactions.  But odors could cause a skin rash or change in blood pressure.  

For some people an allergic reaction can occur if they inhale dust or aerosols containing peanuts, like peanut flour or peanut oil cooking spray.  They’re very hypersensitive.