Think you might be allergic to orange juice? It could be a citrus allergy. Is Citrus Allergy a Problem for You? Learn about the symptoms
Allergies to citrus fruits are uncommon, but they can occur. Fruits that belong to the citrus family include:
- A lemon
- The lime
- The grapefruit
It is possible to have an allergic reaction to citrus fruits, including their fresh fruit and juice, as well as their peels. Discover what causes a citrus allergy and what the symptoms of a citrus allergy are by continuing to read.
Symptoms of citrus allergies
The majority of citrus allergy sufferers experience symptoms after eating raw citrus fruit or drinking citrus fruit juice. Raw fruit often causes localized symptoms, meaning you feel them wherever it touches your skin. These symptoms include:
- Throat, tongue, and lips are tingling and itching intensely
- Lips and gums are reddened and mildly swollen
The following symptoms are associated with oral allergy syndrome (OAS). In most cases, people who suffer from OAS have no problems eating citrus fruits when they are cooked. Although you may have been eating the fruit for years without experiencing any problems, symptoms may appear later in life.
If people who are allergic to citrus fruit peels come into contact with the peel, they may experience symptoms of contact dermatitis. An allergen causes your skin to release inflammatory chemicals that cause allergic contact dermatitis. The following are symptoms:
- Redness of the skin
- Burning skin
- Extreme itching
- A dry, flaky, scaly skin
- A blister
It is possible for citrus allergies to result in systemic allergic reactions, such as anaphylaxis. A medical emergency, it can have life-threatening consequences if left untreated. There are several symptoms of anaphylaxis, including:
- Skin flushed
- Breathing can be difficult due to swelling in the mouth and throat
- Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
- Feeling weak due to a drop in blood pressure
When you experience any of the symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Causes of citrus allergies
When you have an allergic reaction, your immune system protects your body from substances that aren’t harmful to you. Allergens are substances that cause allergic reactions. A reaction to an allergen is caused by your immune system.
It is possible for people with pollen allergies to react to raw citrus fruits, a phenomenon known as cross-reactivity. Some people may experience an allergic reaction when they come into contact with citrus peels. The citrus fruit anaphylaxis reaction has also been documented in some cases, although it is extremely rare.
Citric acid is a substance that cannot cause an allergic reaction. A chemical called citric acid gives citrus fruits their tart taste. Despite its ability to cause skin and mouth irritation and upset stomach, citric acid is not an allergen. Even if you are sensitive to citric acid, it isn’t technically an allergen because it doesn’t trigger an immune response.
The most common cause of citrus allergy is OAS, which is caused by pollen allergies. There is a phenomenon known as cross-reactivity, which occurs because citrus fruits and pollen share certain proteins. Due to these shared proteins, the body responds to a mouthful of fruit as if it were delivering allergy-causing pollen. OAS is caused by a pollen-food cross-reactive allergy.
It is possible to experience OAS to citrus fruits if you are allergic to grasses in particular. In a 2013 study, Trusted Source examined 72 children and young adults with grass pollen allergies. 39 percent of participants with pollen allergies were also sensitive to citrus fruit, according to a study that used prick tests on fresh lemon, orange, and clementine.
It is common to have an allergy to limonene, a chemical found in citrus fruit peels, in people who are allergic to citrus fruit peels. People who suffer from contact dermatitis can get symptoms just by touching citrus fruit, but they may be able to drink fresh juice just fine. Perfumes and cosmetics often include limonene in their fragrances.
The number of people who experience a systemic allergy to citrus fruits is unknown, but oranges and other citrus fruits can cause an anaphylactic reaction in severe cases. Moreover, oranges and grapefruits have been linked to anaphylaxis induced by exercise-dependent food. As a result of ingesting the allergen and exercising shortly afterward, this particular form of food allergy occurs.
In order to find out how many people are allergic to citrus fruits systemically, more research is needed.
Citrus allergy diagnosis
Your doctor will do a skin-prick test and discuss possible fruit allergies with you if you or your child react to pollen. During a skin prick test, a needle is used to inject a small amount of the suspected allergen into the skin. It takes 15 to 20 minutes for you to develop a bump with a red ring around it if you are allergic to it.
Observe the reactions of your child when they try new foods and keep an eye out if they appear bothered by some fruit.
If you suspect anaphylaxis, seek medical attention immediately. EpiPens will be recommended by your doctor if you have a severe allergy.
Foods to avoid
The elimination diet is the best way to remain safe if you or someone in your family is allergic or sensitive to citrus. Foods containing citrus should be avoided:
Avoid these foods
Any citrus fruit, including raw citrus fruit and citrus fruit juice, should be avoided. You should also check the label when buying other juices since sometimes citrus juice will be mixed in.
Citrus that is unripe or freshly picked should be avoided. Fruits that are not ripe are more likely to irritate the skin than those that are ripe.
Seeds and rinds of citrus fruits should be avoided. Baking and salads often contain citrus zest rind. If you are eating out or visiting someone’s home, always ask what the ingredients are.
As citrus flavoring is often used in artificial sweets and vitamin C supplements, avoid them.
In spite of the fact that citrus fruit can cause reactions when eaten raw, many people are able to consume them safely when they are cooked. There is evidence that cooking can deactivate allergic proteins in many cases. For a recipe that calls for citrus fruit or zest, herbs such as lemon verbena and sumac can be substituted.
Baby’s citrus allergy Q&A
There are some reactions my baby has to citrus fruits. Is he or she allergic to something?
Your baby’s reaction to citrus fruits will determine whether you should give him citrus fruits. There is a possibility that he or she is having an allergic reaction. If your baby has a rash or more serious symptoms of anaphylaxis, he or she must be hospitalized immediately. You should stop exposing your baby to citrus fruit if you suspect an allergic reaction. Your doctor can determine whether your baby needs allergy testing based on his or her reaction.