Milk Allergy

"With the treatment of food desensitization in just 3-4 months, the patient can get to drink a glass of milk a day without any problem".


How do I know if I have a milk allergy?

Milk allergy, as a basic food that it is, has a significant impact on the quality of life of affected patients, given its presence in many processed foods and in many cooked products.

The initial recommendation is to suppress this food from the diet but this implies that there are many foods that cannot be consumed.

The treatment of food desensitization or induction to oral tolerance of cow's milk protein achieves in approximately 3-4 months, that the patient can consume a glass (200 ml) of milk per day.

In some patients, where sensitivity to milk is not very high, express desensitization can be performed and tolerance is achieved in less than 7 days.

In the Department of Allergology of the Clinic we have extensive experience in the treatment of induction of oral tolerance and each patient is assessed individually. During the whole process it is supervised by our team of allergists and nurses specialized in the control of this treatment.

What are the symptoms of milk allergy?

The symptoms of milk allergy can vary from mild discomfort after ingestion to severe allergic reactions.

The clinical picture may occur after the first contact or it may appear gradually and increase after repeated consumption of foods containing milk or traces of milk.

The symptoms begin with itching in the mouth and pharyngeal area, skin rashes with intense itching (hives) and in the most severe cases, angioedema. Respiratory symptoms such as rhinitis, conjunctivitis and asthma attacks are also frequent.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Itchy mouth and palate
  • Hives and beans by the skin
  • Rhinitis and/or conjunctivitis
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Asthma crisis
  • Vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur later.

In the most severe cases, anaphylactic shock can develop, compromising the patient's life.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have an allergy to milk and it may be possible to perform food desensitization treatment

What are the causes of milk protein allergy?

There are many factors that can cause an abnormal immune response to proteins from cow's milk or other animals.

Previous contact with the milk, through the mother during pregnancy or breastfeeding and of course, the ingestion of dairy products or containing traces of milk triggers the excessive production of Ig E, causing the symptoms.

Milk allergy is different from lactose intolerance, in the former there is an immune response of the body, in the latter there is a deficit of enzymes capable of digesting this component, causing the symptoms, predominantly digestive.

Is milk allergy cured?

In young children, milk allergy may disappear spontaneously but in 20% of cases, the allergy persists.

When milk allergy begins in adulthood it is much more difficult to clear up and can last a lifetime.

If the treatment of food desensitization or induction of oral tolerance to milk is effective, these patients can return to ingesting dairy products and their derivatives with complete peace of mind. This makes their quality of life improve significantly.

How is milk allergy diagnosed?

<p>&nbsp;Pruebas cutaneas</p>

The diagnosis is made by means of a very simple skin test (prick test): drops containing a known amount of the allergen causing the milk allergy are applied to the skin of the arm. The basis of this technique is to reproduce in the skin the reaction that we present in other parts of the body.

In addition, it is possible to perform blood tests, so that in a more precise way we can quantify and demonstrate the presence of specific Ig E against these proteins.

Sometimes, it is necessary to carry out a provocation test, which consists of observing under medical control the reaction that takes place after the ingestion of the food.

In addition to the usual skin tests, we can measure IgE by microarray, which gives us valuable information about the allergens that the patient recognizes.

How is milk allergy treated?

We have great experience in desensitizing to different foods such as eggs, milk and now also fish.

The first and most effective measure is to avoid contact with the allergen.

Milk and dairy products are found in many foods. The most obvious forms are cream, yoghurt, cheese, butter, ice cream, etc. but they can also be hidden in other foods, so it is advisable to read the labels of these products carefully. 

The milk desensitization treatment is simple and is based fundamentally on re-educating the cells that react to harmless foods such as, in this case, milk. This re-education goes through the administration of very small quantities of milk, at the beginning minimal, that are increased progressively - these increases are always carried out in the hospital enclosure - so that the body goes assimilating these substances without reacting against them. This way until arriving at the objective dose: a glass of milk (200 ml). This process usually takes about 3-4 months and a very high success rate is achieved.

This treatment requires that at all times, health personnel closely monitor this process to avoid major allergic reactions.

This is complemented by education of the patient and his or her family to teach them to avoid contact with this food and to learn how to act in the face of serious allergic reactions.

Overcoming milk allergy in one week

When sensitivity to the product is low and if the child's immune system allows it, the 'target dose' can be achieved in five days.

This "express" desensitization process is indicated for patients with a not very high sensitization to these foods and an age between 4 and 10 years old.

Where do we treat it?


Department of Allergology
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

The Department of Allergy and Immunology of the Clinic is part of the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network, composed of the 25 best departments of Allergy in Europe, chosen for their scientific excellence, multidisciplinary work, teaching and international activities.

We have the most advanced diagnostic techniques, we are at the forefront of research and we collaborate with the best experts. We have more than 50 years of experience in the field.

What diseases do we treat?

Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • More than 50 years of experience.
  • Pioneers in the technique of molecular diagnosis by microarray.
  • Nursing specialized in allergic diseases and their care.