So...yesterday Andrew was at an event with other children. Of course I took a GAPS-friendly snack for him to eat, but the other children there had their snack of apples and sunflower seeds. Immediately after snacktime, Andrew started breaking out in a rash and his left ear started swelling up. His behavior was fine and he wasn't having any difficulty breathing..he just looked awful.
My first thought was, "Oh no, what did he eat?!?!" However, I was assured that he didn't put anything in his mouth other than the food that I had brought. So, next I started to wonder if he had possibly been stung by something on the ear. However, he was indoors the entire time and not one of the many adults there had noticed him crying out at any point as if he had been stung. I even asked him if a bug bit him and he told me no.
So, this is what we've finally decided is the most likely explanation...
Even though the other children were eating a healthy snack of apples and sunflower seeds, the sunflower seeds were store-bought and processed. This means that the ingredients included a lot more than just sunflower seeds. I found this list of common ingredients online:
SUNFLOWER KERNELS, SALT, SUGAR, CORNSTARCH, MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE (FLAVOR ENHANCER), DRIED YEAST, GELATIN, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, PAPRIKA, ONION AND GARLIC POWDERS, SPICES, NATURAL FLAVOR
Anyhow, the theory is that some of the artificial ingredients/oil were transferred to a toy by another child. Andrew must have somehow picked up the residue on his hands. Then he proceeded to scratch his ear, which immediately began to swell, turn red/purple, and get hot. Shortly after that exposure his face, neck, and torso began breaking out in whelps.
I took these photos about 2 hours after the exposure. The rash had actually improved a bit on his face and neck. At 5 hours after exposure his ear was still just as hot and red and swollen as before and the rash had continued to spread to his feet. He was obviously itchy, but otherwise acted normal. This morning, however, everything is fine. His ear and body look absolutely normal.
Sometimes I get so focused on making sure that the children don't consume processed foods. It's easy to forget that these foods can still harm sensitive children in other ways. I'm glad it wasn't any more serious, but it was a good reminder as to why we are doing what we are doing. There are very valid reasons why we avoid processed foods.