allergy bag

Amelia was only a year old when her father and I discovered she had food allergies. At that point, it was entirely our responsibility to make sure we always had her epinephrine on hand and that she didn’t grab a friend’s cookie when our backs were turned. She got older and things got easier… in some ways. Amelia clearly knows what she’s allergic to, won’t take treats at parties, and understands the importance of reading labels and not sharing food. But she’s also becoming increasingly embarrassed by her food allergies—they make her feel different, and for school-aged children, different can be tough. She particularly hates bringing her EpiPen with her, insisting, “I won’t need it.”

Turns out Amelia isn’t the only one who hates standing out. Dana Lustbader launched Epi-Essentials, a line of leather handbags and accessory cases specifically for food allergic customers after her daughter hit third grade and told her mother, “I don’t want to be the food allergy kid.” The standard medical bag she toted her EpiPen in all day long felt like a giant “scarlet letter,” her mother says.

The bag ($118) and accessory case ($68) are cute and come in fun colors, and have special compartments that hold two EpiPens, antihistamines and other medications, and a small medical information card. Granted, these are not H&M-style prices, but if it makes a tween or teen with a health condition feel better about taking her lifesaving medication with her wherever she goes, it’s totally worth it.

Andrea Pyros writes often about parenting for publications including Mint, LearnVest and Sesame Street Family. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley and is the mother to two children, one of whom has food allergies and the other of whom refuses to eat eggs even though he can. 


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Comments (6)


  1. Posted by: Mary Ann

    Thanks for this post. My four-year-old daughter has several food allergies and so far has been dealing pretty well with the issues related to them, but I’ve been wondering when she’s going to tell me that she just doesn’t want to deal with them any more.

    We carry our epi pens, benadryl, etc., in a clearly marked medical bag, which I always hope will make it easier for someone to find the supplies if/when they’re needed and either me or my husband is not around. (Although, that almost never happens.)

    But I’m glad to see that there are products out there to encourage her to carry her meds when she’s older and more conscious of standing out from the crowd.

  2. Posted by: Andrea

    For us, it was when our kid was in first grade that it started to bug her. According to Dana, she said her daughter started feeling very self-conscious in third. That said, some kids probably never consider it a big deal or mind, so maybe yours will be one of them!

  3. Posted by: Erikka

    My son has severe food allergies. Do you know of any cool carriers for boys?

  4. Posted by: Andrea

    I’m going to ask around — since I only have a girl with allergies, I don’t always check out the boy gear. I do love these leg carriers for kids when they’re older (and sporty!):

    Let me find out more and report back.


  5. Posted by: Andrea

    Erikka, still looking! Also, two ideas:

    1. Would your son want to wear an EpiPen belt?

    2. I met a totally with-it teen boy with allergies and he mentioned he always wears cargo pants or shorts and just carries his EpiPen in there.

    Stay tuned….

  6. Posted by: Erikka

    thank you! those are great ideas.

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