What Are the Treatments for a Gelatin Allergy?

needle image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com

When people hear the word gelatin, they are more than likely going to think of foods containing gelatin, such as Jell-O. However, gelatin has a wide variety of uses, ranging from the food to industrial to medical fields. The effects of a gelatin allergic reaction can be severe, but treatments are effective.

Common Treatments

Most minor symptoms can be treated with simple over-the-counter medications, such as diphenhydramine, which is a type of antihistamine. It can be bought at most stores where medication is sold, in either pill (capsules, tablets) or cream form. For most minor internal symptoms, diphenhydramine is taken in its pill form to subdue symptoms like nausea, nasal congestion, and lightheadedness.

For reactions that result in skin irritations, diphenhydramine's cream form can be applied topically to the affected areas.

Of course, the simplest treatment is to know what products contain gelatin, and to avoid those products if you are allergic to gelatin.


Although rare, anaphylaxis is a possible reaction to gelatin, according to Ygoy.com. Anaphylaxis is a major, whole-body allergic reaction. It results in severe swelling, especially in the face and neck, and can block the airways.

When anaphylaxis occurs, call 911 or get medical attention immediately. The treatment is usually epinephrine, an adrenalin shot.


An allergic reaction to gelatin has several noticeable symptoms, most prominent being hives. This is commonly a result of eating or drinking something that contains gelatin, or from receiving a vaccination that contains gelatin.

Swelling is also a symptom, especially of the face and neck region, which sometimes can obstruct breathing.

Other, minor symptoms include lightheadedness, low blood pressure, nausea and a runny nose.

What is Gelatin?

By definition, gelatin is a tasteless, odourless and mostly colourless mixture of proteins. It melts when heated, and returns to solid form when it is cooled. Gelatin is a collagen obtained by boiling animal tissues.

Gelatin Uses

Aside from its most famous use--Gel-O--gelatin is used in many bakery products and dairy products. It is also used in many cosmetic products, such as shampoos and lipsticks, and is prominent in the pharmaceutical industry. Gelatin is found in vaccines, tablets, and ointments among other things. In most cases, it serves as a stabiliser to help the solid or liquid maintain its structure.