Skin / Image: National Food Institute

Food allergy may develop through the skin

Tuesday 26 Nov 19


Katrine Lindholm Bøgh
Senior Researcher, Head of Research Group
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 70 92

Food allergy not only develops after ingestion of food. What we put on our skin and in our hair can also cause allergies. The more knowledge we have about how allergies develop, the better the options for preventing and treating them will be. The National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, works to prevent and treat allergies and to promote tolerance.

Millions of people around the world suffer from food allergies, and, in the worst cases, the condition can be fatal. Therefore, the National Food Institute conducts research on how to prevent, treat, and manage food allergy.

When people become allergic, it is mostly – with a few exceptions – the proteins, which people develop allergies toward. The body can create a type of antibodies whose original purpose was to fight parasites. When such antibodies start reacting to foods that are normally harmless, a faulty response has occurred in the body, which then causes the allergy.

"The ambition is to contribute to fewer people becoming allergic in the long run, that more people can get treatment, and that people with allergies can manage their allergies in an easier way."
Senior Researcher and Head of Research Group Katrine Lindholm Bøgh

The basis of the research is to understand why some food proteins are allergenic and others not. Therefore, the researchers study both the allergenic and tolerogenic properties of proteins – i.e. the properties that contribute to allergy and tolerance development, respectively.

A number of the Institute’s research projects relating to exposure suggest that we are likely to develop allergies through the skin, i.e. when our skin is exposed to allergenic substances from the environment or from the cosmetics we use, including shampoos, conditioners, etc. For this reason, the researchers are working on projects relating to skin sensitization, which focus on examining how and why some food proteins can cause allergy through the skin.

Read more

Read more about the National Food Institute’s research in the area of food allergies in an article from the National Food Institute’s 60th anniversary publication: Food allergy may develop through the skin.

The National Food Institute is celebrating its 60th birthday this year, as it was decided on June 5, 1959 to establish a national food institute in Denmark. 

You can also read the articles: At the forefront of healthy, safe and sustainable foods, The unborn child must be better protected from chemical cocktails and Foods we can trust.

The National Food Institute prevents disesase and promotes health

Consumers are increasingly interested in their health. Magazines and news media are brimming with advice on healthy eating, exercising more and healthy living in general – and the demand for healthy and safe foods continues to increase. 

However, at the same time, more and more people are affected by infectious diseases and lifestyle diseases, and exposure to chemicals can lead to cancer and inhibit our ability to reproduce.

Thus, research that promotes health and prevents disease is very important.

The majority of the research projects, scientific advice to authorities, cooperation with businesses and teaching activities at the National Food Institute have the fundamental vision to make a difference by preventing disease and promoting health in a number of areas: 

  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Unwanted effects of chemical substances
  • Nutrition
  • Food allergy
  • Microbiological food safety
  • Hygienic design in the production of food
  • Risk-benefit assessments of health effects
  • Chemical food analysis
  • Nano-materials in foods
  • Risk assessments
  • Gut health
  • Development of health food and ingredients.
Image: National Food Institute
3 AUGUST 2021