Oat Allergy Guide | Lifelab Testing

Oat Allergy Guide

Last Updated: 11th April 2023 · Written by Kate Young

Oat allergy has recently struck the headlines because of the rise in gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains. Since oats and similar grains are processed and packaged in the factories or warehouses as these grains with gluten, cross-contamination occurs, which results in symptoms upon eating oats or oat products like oat milk. However, oat allergy is also a common occurrence not linked to cross-contamination of grains—oat allergy or oat milk allergy results in the presence of a protein avenin found in oats. When people allergic to oats get this protein into their bodies, the immune system releases antibodies and histamine because it assumes it needs to protect the body from a virus or bacteria. When the immune system releases these compounds, it causes oat allergy symptoms.

Besides oat allergy, some people experience gastric discomfort due to their sensitivity to high-fibre foods. Some also experience gastrointestinal symptoms due to their sensitivity to oats. Oat allergies aren’t as common as nut and tree nut allergies, but they still affect many people, including children. That’s why we’ve created this oat allergy guide so you can learn more about the symptoms, treatment and foods to avoid.

Oat allergy symptoms

Symptoms of oat allergy vary from one individual to the next. They can be either mild, moderate, or severe. Most of these symptoms occur within two hours of contact with oats. Severe cases happen rarely, and they can be life-threatening. The common oat allergy symptoms include:

A man sneezing
A man sneezing.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Anaphylaxis.
  • Blotchy, irritated, itchy skin.
  • Itchy eyes.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Oat allergy rash.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Rash or skin irritation on and in the mouth.
  • Scratchy throat.
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Oat allergy eczema.

If someone close to or around you experiences a severe reaction like anaphylaxis, you need to call urgent care like 999 or rush them to the emergency room to get treatment. Anyone who experiences anaphylaxis should have an EpiPen to carry all the time in case of emergencies. Even if you use an EpiPen, you still need to visit a hospital for observation because these oat allergy symptoms could come back after a few hours. Symptoms such as allergic contact dermatitis may not show up immediately but have a delayed reaction, which may happen between a few hours to three days later.

Oat allergy in children

Often, children experience food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES). This condition affects the intestinal tract causing symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, poor growth, and dehydration. When a child with FPIES remains untreated for a prolonged time, they could end up with lethargy and starvation. Children with oat allergies may also suffer with skin-based symptoms. A study on children with atopic dermatitis found that children and infants had a skin reaction to topical products containing oats {1}. So, if your child suffers from atopic dermatitis, it is best to avoid creams, lotions, and any topical products containing oats since they will be allergic to them. Adults also suffer from skin reactions after using products with oats when they have an oat sensitivity or oat allergy.

Many skincare products, especially children’s, are loaded with wheat, oats, and other allergy triggers that can cause a reaction when used by a child with an oat allergy. A study on children’s products found that out of 276 different skincare products, more than a third of them listed contain food-related allergens as an ingredient. Of the 156 ingredients found, there were ingredients like almonds, milk, eggs, and peanuts which are major food allergens. Oats were listed as an ingredient in 8.3% of the products studied {2}. Therefore, if your child suffers from an oat allergy you should be mindful of products in skincare.

When looking for skincare products to treat dry or irritated skin, it’s most likely that the said topical product will be loaded with oat proteins. Oats are mainly used to treat dry, irritated skin. In topical products, you might find the oat ingredients listed as colloidal or finely milled oatmeal. Adults and children alike experience skin reactions upon using topical products loaded with oats. If you’re allergic to oats, you might also react to barley since both grains contain the same protein as oats (avenin).

Oat allergy treatment

When you have oat allergy symptoms, there are medications to help you feel better when you’re suffering. If you suffer from skin reactions from oat allergies, such as an oat allergy rash or oat allergy eczema, creams such as topical corticosteroids help reduce such symptoms. On the other hand, over-the-counter antihistamines can help reduce other moderate or mild symptoms of oat allergy. But if one suffers from anaphylaxis, it is essential to call 999 or emergency medical help because the consequences are serious. If you already have an EpiPen, you should use it or have someone inject you.

Oat allergy foods to avoid

People with severe oat allergies can experience symptoms by touching or inhaling oats. However, others get symptoms simply through ingestion. Here are some foods that often contain oats:

  • Granola and granola bars.
  • Porridge.
  • Oatmeal.
  • Oatmeal bath.
  • Oatmeal lotion.
  • Muesli.
  • Oatmeal cookies.
  • Beer.
  • Oatcake.
  • Oat milk.
  • Horse feed containing oat, such as oat hay.

Oat allergy testing

basic allergy test
Basic Allergy Test.

Once you realise that you may have oat allergy symptoms, you need to see a doctor, especially if it’s your child with the issue. The doctor will check for any underlying illnesses causing the symptoms. If none are found, then you may be suffering from an oat allergy. However, food allergies are hard to pin down since we consume so many potential allergens daily in our meals.

To narrow down what could be causing your symptoms, you can take a home-to-lab Allergy Test. This allergy test will use your sample to check for the most common allergens in your food, drinks, and environment. After a week, you’ll receive an email with your results clearly stating foods or allergens in your environment that you should avoid if you don’t want to suffer from allergy symptoms. If you’re also unsure whether you’re suffering from an oat intolerance rather than an allergy, our Intolerance Test analyses your sample against oat. 

How to manage oat allergy

The easiest way to manage oat allergies is by avoiding foods that you think may contain oats. Even when picking grains at the grocery store, ensure that the package clearly states that they haven’t been processed in the same place as oats. Such information will help prevent accidents that could lead to oat allergy symptoms. You should also ensure wherever you’re dining, whether out or with a friend, that you tell them of your allergies to prevent these allergy reactions. If you have gluten intolerance and you’re reacting to oats, you might be having this reaction because of cross-contamination. You need to ensure that all your oats don’t contain any cross-contamination. If you’re unsure of what’s causing your uncomfortable symptoms, our recommendation is to take a simple home Complete Body Test, which looks for both allergies and intolerances.


  1. Boussault, P., Léauté-Labrèze, C., Saubusse, E., Maurice-Tison, S., Perromat, M., Roul, S., Sarrat, A., Taïeb, A., & Boralevi, F. (2007). Oat sensitization in children with atopic dermatitis: prevalence, risks and associated factors. Allergy, 62(11), 1251–1256. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2007.01527.x
  2. Adomaite, I., Vitkuviene, A., Petraitiene, S., & Rudzeviciene, O. (2020). Food allergens in skincare products marketed for children. Contact Dermatitis, 83(4), 271-276.

Buy with confidence

We're proud of our team and are established members of the scientific community

UKCA logo
C.E logo
Trusted Shops logo
Winner of Derbyshire Business Awards 2019
GDPR Compliant logo
Medilink Midlands logo