A day or two after his cousin’s third birthday, Colum had a mild pimple-like rash around his mouth that lasted a couple of days. I immediately focused my suspicions on the chocolate cake — it was Colum’s first real exposure to chocolate. Over the past couple months, then, I’ve held off on chocolate for the most part. A couple bites here and there haven’t left their mark, though, so I thought maybe we were in the clear.
This morning, two days after Halloween, he awoke with a solitary pimple-like blemish smack dab in the middle of his chin. Again, I suspected chocolate and set out to examine the possibilities. Despite the vast amount of anecdotal evidence supporting reactions to chocolate, a true chocolate allergy seems to be practically unheard of. The Mayo Clinic says, “Chocolate, long thought by some parents to be a culprit among children, seldom is a cause of food allergy.”
So what we’re probably dealing with here is a food sensitivity. The main distinction between an allergy and sensitivity is that the immune system is not involved with the latter. Also, the reactions tend to be less severe and small amounts of the offending food are often tolerated. Thus, half a chocolate chip banana muffin leaves Colum unscathed while three squares of an Aero bar send up Mount Vesuvius. In fact, it might not even be chocolate per se that is at issue. It is common for people to react to some of the additives found in chocolate. And the cheaper the chocolate, the more other stuff there is. (Ahem, I guess that means you, Nestle.)
I’m not worrying too much, then. There’s no real harm being done and he’ll hopefully outgrow it. And for now, he can eat some more treats, but I’ve got my eye on that chin.