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Buttermilk allergy

Updated February 21, 2019

Buttermilk is a fermented form of cow’s milk. Because the main ingredient in buttermilk is cow’s milk, a person with a known milk protein allergy should avoid consuming or coming into direct skin contact with the product. Milk allergies, which are considered common, can develop minor to more severe symptoms. If you experience adverse reactions after consuming buttermilk products, talk with a medical professional for a proper diagnosis.

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The proteins found in buttermilk are what cause allergic reactions throughout the body. According to Kids Health, the proteins found in buttermilk cause an overreaction of the immune system. The body mistakes the protein in the buttermilk as a harmful substance and produces certain antibodies to ward them off, including histamine. This histamine causes common allergy symptoms.


Buttermilk allergy symptoms are similar to other food-related allergies and typically appear within a few minutes after consuming buttermilk, according to MayoClinic.com. The first symptoms to appear may include sneezing, eye irritation, tingling in the lips or throat, coughing, shortness of breathe nasal congestion, hives or eczema and digestive difficulty. A buttermilk allergy can lead to severe allergic symptoms including the swelling of the throat, dizziness and a sudden drop in blood pressure. If these symptoms appear, call the emergency services and get the patient to Accident and Emergency immediately.


The only way to confirm a buttermilk allergy is to consult a doctor, ideally one who has experience in allergy testing. Skin tests are performed by injecting small amount of the proteins found in buttermilk under the skin. If inflammation develops, the patient has a buttermilk allergy. Blood tests may be required to confirm a buttermilk allergy.


Kids Health states that the best treatment for a buttermilk allergy is for the patient to avoid all food products that contain buttermilk and cow’s milk. There is no cure for a buttermilk allergy, but it can be managed by eliminating it from the diet. If accidentally ingested, minor symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines to reduce inflammation. A severe allergic reaction will require emergency medical attention using an epinephrine shot.


An allergy to buttermilk and dairy intolerance has similar symptoms but are not the same condition. Dairy intolerance is the body’s inability to produce the proper enzymes to break down the sugar found in buttermilk.

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About the Author

Diane Marks

Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.

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