Allergy to Strawberries

By staff

A red strawberry is allergenic? How about white ones?

Red strawberries cause allergies, but white ones do not… This is the most concrete discovery about strawberry allergies to date which is credited to a group of biochemists at Lund University in Sweden. While examining the proteins in different varieties of strawberries, the group found out that a white strawberry variety called, Sofar, had relatively no traces of the suspected protein allergen. Right now, Swedish breeders are working on making the white strawberry just as flavorful as the red ones.

So if you have an allergy to strawberries, pick the white ones instead, because the allergen found in these sweet plump juicy fruits is surprisingly related to its red color, although the group is still investigating why this is so.

What their research does tell is that the strawberry allergen is similar to the allergen in birch pollen. If you have birch pollen allergies, it is common for you to develop secondary food allergies to strawberries or other foods, but if you have a strawberry allergy, it would not mean that you will develop an allergy to birch pollen though.

What are strawberries, and what are they used for?

Strawberries are not fruits actually because their seeds grow on the outside, on their skin, unlike real fruits that have their seeds on the inside. Strawberry plants are runners and do not produced by seeds. There are about 12 species of these low, runner-bearing perennial herbs that are native to cooler regions. Strawberry plants are cultivated primarily as ornamentals and, of course, for their sweet red fruit. They are eaten raw or used in desserts. Often, they are used to make preserves. The fruits are used in various herbal treatments, and used cosmetically in skin-care items. The leaves are eaten raw, cooked or used as a tea substitute, and the flowers sometimes serve as a compost activator.

What are the symptoms of a strawberry allergy?

The symptoms of a strawberry allergy are similar to food allergy reactions.

The most common symptom is oral allergy syndrome, characterized by allergic reactions in the mouth and throat. There can be tingling, itching, and swelling in the mouth, lips, tongue, throat, and palate. Watery itchy eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing can accompany the reactions. Those with hay fever are most susceptible, especially spring hay fever due to birch pollen, and summer hay fever due to ragweed pollen.

Strawberries can also trigger skin allergies such as pruritis (itching), urticaria (hives), and contact dermatitis. The symptoms can also manifest as respiratory conditions like allergic rhinitis and asthma.

More severe symptoms include vomiting, cramps, diarrhea, and on rare occasions, life threatening anaphylactic reactions such as swelling of the throat, wheezing, and trouble breathing.

How do you manage an allergy to strawberries?

The safest way to manage a strawberry allergy is not to eat strawberries at all. Stay away from strawberry jam, dried strawberries, strawberry candies, and anything with strawberries in it. Although the white strawberry variety is known to contain less of the allergen, it is still better to be safe. Substitute your strawberry craving with other fruits that you are not allergic to.

Wear a Medic Alert bracelet to alert others that you are allergic to strawberries. Carry medications with you as well in case of an allergic attack.

18 Comments »

Dania Thomsen:

@isakilla1 Matter again;)

August 13th, 2011 | 3:41 pm
chris:

i dont know why anyone ever has the answer to what most anyone that looked this up is having.what can i do to help alleviate the symptoms? my 8 mo. son had a quarter of a strawberry. my wife afterward told me it was a bad idea. i had no idea. he seemed fine, but about 3 hrs into sleep he kept tossing and turning so we went to get him out of his crib, and we noticed a few small bumps below his mouth, a couple on his neck and his cheeks are red. he is breathing fine so my wife and i feel it is not necessary to go to ER, but we want our son to feel comfortable and sleep. i know this is a long shot but, anyone have some insight?

April 23rd, 2012 | 12:11 am
Hannah:

I have a strawberry allergy and I also have three small children, so I’m a little familiar with baby meds. If he were older, I would say Benadryl for the little bumps, but unless your doctor gives the okay for that, I would avoid it. For the discomfort (probably in baby’s tummy), infant gas relief drops (Mylicon) coupled with Infant Tylenol might really help after the accidental strawberry incident. I take the adult versions of those things (Tylenol and Gas-X) and it helps tremendously. Hope that helps!

May 1st, 2012 | 8:02 pm
Miley:

Same thing happened to my 9 month old. Had no idea and gave her a bite. No reaction til next morning when her face and body was covered in hives. Then 30 hrs later, it got worse, her while face and head was red and bumpy. I can’t believe the reaction. Thank God her breathing is fine but I am so worried. I didn’t have Benadryl and gave her diluted allergy med for kids. Have her just a little bc I’m nervous. I don’t think I gave her enough and I just really hope it’s going to be better in the morning. I just find it odd the symptoms occur 24 hrs later and have gotten worse throughout the day. I pray it won’t get any worse and will be gone by theirnong. Anyone have similar story?

October 29th, 2012 | 12:17 am
LdRallergymom:

Miley… I have two kids with allergies and if your child has a prolonged reaction (which is what it sounds like) you should get her to a doctor ASAP. You should never give a child ANY medication without first talking to a doctor. My youngest had her first allergic reaction at 5 months and it IS safe to give them benadryl at young ages, as long as you have talked to a doctor. Bottom line: contact a pediatrician anytime your child has an allergic reaction. It WILL be worse if they accidentally ingest or sometimes even touch the allergen again and could be very dangerous if you are not properly prepared!

November 6th, 2012 | 4:54 pm
Karen:

I’m mildly allergic to strawberries. I get spots under my wrists and itchy skin that lasts more than a few hours (Benadryl) if I eat too many. Experimenting with the hope of outgrowing the mild allergy has given me a safe point of consuming no more than about a cup per snack.

I have never had a problem with processed strawberries, such as fresh picked after canning, boiled sauces, or candies. I wonder if the heat weakens the protiens or deters the pesticide residue that normal soaking/rubbing doesn’t remove.

I actually came here because I’m wondering if consuming strawberries with a mild strawberry allergy could affect the symptoms of one’s menstration cycle (worsen cramps and body aches). I also have seasonal allergies to tree pollen, which has never made me stop going outside, but I’m not sure which to blame for my cramps.

April 14th, 2013 | 11:10 pm
dd:

Benadryl with doctor’s permission, and to get correct dosage (per weight if child). Call on-call doctor when child has any reaction to food. Breathing problems are nit only sign of severe reactions
D. ( parent of child with severe food allergies)

April 15th, 2013 | 11:17 pm
Missy Grimm:

I am 44 years old and just developed a severe reaction to strawberries….at first I thought I had cellulitis because, on my right upper arm I developed a huge hive that became red and hot, then spread. Large doses of benedryl were given as well as a steroid (yuck) but it did go away within a couple of days. Because I didn’t know what caused it, 2 weeks later I had a smoothie that had fresh strawberries in it and the same thing happened to my other arm. Miserable and perplexed as to what the heck I took large doses of benedryl and a high dose of generic prilosec and it took about 5 days to go away. Crazy experiences led me to a great allergist.

April 30th, 2013 | 11:27 am
eyy:

Recently, I had attended a party and a dessert called “Fruits with Red Vanilla Sauce” was served. I asked the waitress in there is strawberries in it cause I am allergic to it, and she said “No”. I took a teaspoon of Rasberry (which I am not allergic) that was soaked with the sauce. After that bite, the waitress approached me and apologised to me and said that there is strawberries in the dessert and told me she will change my dessert. Unfortunately, I immediately felt a tingling sensation in my palate then followed by severe stuffy nose and pain in the throat. My friend immediately gave me a decongestant which she carried in her purse. But to no releif. Then I started to have difficulty of breathing , another friend gave me his inhaler but again no releif. The host of the party asked if anyone got any steroids and allergy medication with them which fortunately one guest got one. They gave it to me and at that time I already lost my voice and got a headache. I was told to relax and a doctor guest checked on me and observed until I was ok. I almost passed out if not for the help of the guest which was a bit embarrasing for me that it happened in the party. I learned that the sauce in the dessert contained Strawberry puree. Now I know just a little of that Red Fruit will kill me. Thank God it didn’t happen.

May 3rd, 2013 | 2:57 am
Diane:

I am fascinated by this discovery. I haven’t been tested for allergies for at least 20 years and at that time they told me I was mildly (.5 on a scale of 1 to 10) allergic to trees, grass, weeds, mold, and mites. For several years now in the spring I get a rash under my watch band… Recently started juicing with my son so eating strawberries virtually everyday and have had strange sinus issue affecting my left eye as well as rash on both arms and wondering if it’s strawberries. It was much better over the weekend – two days without strawberries. Experimenting to find possible causes.

May 6th, 2013 | 7:13 am
Eden:

Greetings!
It surprised me when I woke up this morning that when I am brushing my teeth and looking at my reflection in the mirror, I saw my swelling face,and shocked me even more when I saw my whole body, full of red spots. I remembered that last night I only had two big red strawberries. I can’t believe I am allergic to it…

May 8th, 2014 | 5:50 pm
JoJo:

I am 50 & have always eaten strawberries w/no reaction. However, the last 2 times I’ve had them, my whole body itches like I was bitten by tiny fleas for about 3 days – tiny red spots on my trunk, legs & get worse with scratching. WTHeck? Anybody else have this problem?

May 16th, 2014 | 9:25 am
cem:

I believe I have developed a late in life(66 years old)allergy to strawberries. It has never been my favorite fruit but began eating more last year. I remember having a few symptoms but did not correlate it with strawberries. Early spring this year I ate a lot…they were so good. The next morning I woke up and had major swelling all around my eyes. Aside from looking very bad, nothing hurt or itched. It took about 10 days for it to go away by itself. That was the first I suspected strawberries. A few weeks ago, after being symptom free for about 3 months I ate half a strawberry, and the next morning one eye was very swollen, the other only slightly. It took a week to go away. No more strawberries for me.

July 2nd, 2014 | 12:31 pm
Angela:

I’m 29 years old I had my strawberry allergy two years now mine is taste touch and smell if I smell them I get very sick and I get tightness in my throat right away I carry an epi pen haven’t had to use it yet I went to an allergist I’m allergic to strawberries and raspberries and ash trees birch trees and maple trees and 4 types of grass! for touch I get hives and taste tingling in my mouth and I get throat tightness and hives so it’s kind of like a peanut allergy so scary when I get tightness in my throat I never had allergies before it just came on all of a sudden when we bought strawberries it started with hives and tingling in my mouth then the next day I couldn’t go to the fridge and open it the smell made me get tightness in my throat and very sick is there anyone else out there who’s allergy to strawberries is smell related as well? I carry Benadryl everywhere I go and my epi pen been to the the hospital a couple times never had to use my epi pen yet but this allergy it’s so scary!

July 16th, 2014 | 12:36 pm
janet:

JoJo,cem,&Angela -same thing here! I have enjoyed fresh strawberries and str’berry jam all my life. Now at 65, no more over-doing it. A few months ago, I had a sponge cake with strawberry syrup on top, and the next morning I had huge welts under my upper arms – eek! I downed several benedryls, and the intense itching & welts went down. I thought it was the artificial red dye. But I think now it is indeed the strawberries. They are in season now, and single-handedly I ate an entire basket, and up came the hives – looking like bug bites. I figured some little spider went crawling along my back, following my bra line, and bit me the whole length of about 5″….but then my abdomen and right arm too?! Benedryl cream is been helping alot.
Now, reading your comments, I’m realizing I really over-did it with the strawberries…luckily it did not affect my respiratory systems like for Angela. Best wishes, and take extra special care you all.

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September 6th, 2014 | 10:14 am

At 72, never having been allergic to anything my whole life, I now find that I seem to be allergic to strawberries. I have broken out in huge welts and hives on my legs that itch like mad. Have not been to the doc yet but definitely going tomorrow. Any advice took then to help the itch?

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October 15th, 2014 | 5:01 pm
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