Allergy to Strawberries

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.

Oral Allergy Syndrome vs. Food Allergies

You don’t hear of fruit allergies near as much as allergies to the other “major” allergens, but obviously, strawberry and other fruit allergens are definitely a problem. Symptoms can range from itchy mouth or lips, to hives and rashes, to anaphylactic shock.

In fact, even though strawberries aren’t listed as one of the eight major allergens, there are some definite guidelines concerning strawberries. The recommendation for introducing strawberries to babies is at one year, longer if there is a history of allergies in the family. According to, some stage 2 baby foods do contain strawberries, but they are cooked which makes them more tolerable. Be careful with this, though, if there are allergies in your family. If you are making your own baby food, be careful as well, as commercial processing usually can get foods to a higher temperature. The higher temperature is necessary to break down the proteins which cause the allergic symptoms.

This however, pertains more to Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS). This is the type of allergy that is related to pollen, with strawberries, the link is to birch pollen. In other words, if you are allergic to birch pollen, you may have a cross reaction to some fruits, like strawberries. Though OAS can cause itching and sometimes swelling of the mouth, it doesn’t lead to the more severe symptoms of allergies. If you or your child is experiencing difficulty breathing, hives, or itching elsewhere besides the mouth area, the allergy is probably a true food allergy.  If this is the case, strawberries need to be completely avoided, in any form. Just as with the major allergenic foods, there is the chance of an anaphylactic reaction. OAS is different from the more severe food induced anaphylaxis of a true food allergy.

So what does this mean? If you have OAS and realize that strawberries make your mouth or lips itch, try cooking your strawberries. Of course, it’s not the same, but you can just be accustomed to them in different ways. Jams and jellies are cooked, and you can make yummy sauces with cooked berries. Some people say the sooner they are eaten after being picked, the smaller your chance of experiencing OAS is. Try a U-Pick field and see if it helps.

If you have an allergy, though, to strawberries, you need to stay away altogether and practice real avoidance. No jams or jellies, or any foods with strawberries in them. Cooking won’t destroy the proteins that cause the true allergies. It won’t matter when they are picked, you need to avoid.

As I have said before, allergies are confusing! Between OAS and true food allergies, between the different symptoms each person can get and between the “growing out of allergies” factor, they are just confusing! The best thing to do is practice common sense, if you have an uncomfortable reaction – stay away from it. You can try allergy testing, but that is another whole story in itself!


  1. 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?

  2. 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!

  3. 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?

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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)

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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…

  11. 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?

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. Well over 50 and never had a problem with strawberries before. Then after having a couple a day for most of a week last night had the strangest reaction. Suddenly started feeling very drunk, staggeringly drunk. (no I had not had a drink in days). Was still feeling drunk in the morning and noticed some swelling in face and hands. Took a Benedryl and felt better. Now after having another couple of strawberries, feeling an itchy/burning in my stomach and feeling a little dizzy. Looked up Symptoms and found this site. No more strawberries for me then. Taking another benedryl and if need be will go to doctor.

  17. When my nephew was about a year old I think (anyway he had a couple of teeth) while we were on vacation he broke out in spots. He was on the last of his anti-biotic and my sister and mom thought it was that. He was also eating boiled peanuts. My sister had bad allergy all her life. We were 30 minutes away from an ER so my mom gave my nephew liquid benedryl. She used measuring spoons and used the 1/8 and gave him that, put it in a bottle with some water.The doctor said my mom saved his life. It turns out he was allergic to the peanuts. With food allergies don’t mess around and go to the ER. With my nephew its so serious we have to carry around an ep i -pen, and call 911.

  18. I too have eaten strawberries all of my 64 years but have suspected in the past few years that I got “itchy” over my torso area only after eating strawberries. This past week I ate a dessert that had a lot of them in it and gt VERY itchy including a rash on my upper and lower stomach area. Drove me nuts! I have no other food allergies and am SAD to think I’m allergic to strawberries now! But if NOT eating them keeps my from not itching like that, so be it!

  19. Yesterday I made a fresh fruit smoothie that had strawberries in it. Today I break out with hives all over my face that itch, itch, itch. There was swelling and my face was extremely warm. I am surprized that a food allergy would wait for 10 to 12 hours to appear after eating. Anyway that is the only thing I could think of that it might be. I looked on line to see if there were any home remedies that would stop the itch….what I found was…..Cream of Tartar and water to make a paste and then apply on hives and let dry. I tried this and it helped tremendously. Not a pretty picture, but real relief. Hope this helps someone else….

  20. I’ve been having episodes lately where I feel awful- intense stomach burning, back pain, vomiting and diarrhea, and now I think I’ve finally realized that the common thread is strawberries. The last few times I’ve eaten them, my mouth immediately swells and gets weird-feeling and tasting.

  21. I’ve known I was allergic to strawberries since I was about 4 years old. I still remember the itching, tingling, swelling, and vomiting. Almost 40 now, I’ve avoided them most of my life, but I love the smell of them. Growing up, I worked in a soda shop where we made fresh strawberry syrup, and that caused a rash on my wrists for weeks. Now I serve them to my children and occasionally get skin hives and other mild reactions. The reactions have gotten milder as I’ve aged. I’m tempted to eat a few to gradually increase my tolerance of the protein.

  22. Oddly enough, it seems like I’ve grown out of my allergy to strawberry flavor. (Fresh strawberries were never a problem, only artificial flavoring.) As a child, the artificial flavor used to make me vomit like crazy but it doesn’t anymore. I’m 52 years old.

  23. I developed this allergy at about 35 and it is so scary. I hate trying to explain it to people but my allergy is life threatening. If I walk into a room with the smell my voice gets hoarse, short of breath, and sick on the stomach, itching.

  24. To reduce the severeness of an allergic reaction, take an anti-histamine immediately and calamine or benzadryl lotion on the hives if you have them.

  25. I’m 74. Never been allergic to food. Then couple of years ago regularly stared getting swollen lips. A doctor advised cetirizine. But I still didn’t know what caused it. Eventually worked out was grain; not the wheat itself but must be a spore on it. So now can eat processed bread etc but not fresh baked (which I loved). Lately have been eating lot of strawberries. Yesterday woke up with swollen lip. I had eaten about 10 strawberries at noon previous day. Don’t know if it was this but daren’t eat any more. Will try to get doc to do test but last time he wasn’t very helpful. He did eventually say they’d tested my blood and it wasn’t various things, including wheat. That is how I conclude must be wheat spore (mould) because it was definitely connected to fresh brad etc consumption.

  26. This is a strange one but I get heart fluttering when I eat strawberries. It happens almost immediately. I am allergic to many foods and they affect me in different ways but I find this so odd. Artificial sweeteners cause my heart to have extra beats also as well as alcohol. I understand those but don’t get why strawberries would do this when no other fruit does it.

  27. 64 yrs. old I never had a food allergy before.
    Allergies to other things. Any way about Two
    Weeks ago I had some sugared Strawberries
    and later in the evening while sleeping I started
    to itch all over. Not thinking it was strawberries
    Last night I had a Dairy Queen Blizzard with
    Strawberries! The same reaction, so I don’t think
    I’ll be eating them again! It’s to scary at our age
    to take chances! I will be making sure my family
    Is aware so their children won’t have an allergy
    to them.

  28. 10 days ago I had what I thought was gastroenteritis: cramps, diarrhea, vomiting. Last night I had an even worse version. Today I realized a common denominator: strawberries. Never before has this happened to me, nor have I heard of it. Has anyone else?

  29. i wonder if it is the seeds. I would sneeze after crunching into the seeds, particularly with dewberries. Dewberries are native here and i munch on them in the spring. Strawberries are tossed into a smoothie blender. Both are in the Rosaceae family and i would also get blisters when scratched by a rose thorn.

  30. Hi my son (4) is allergic to 8 unique foods and were retrying strawberries. We’ve been giving him 2-4 every other day for 3 weeks. Tonight after he was asleep he woke up crying with belly hurting. Is that a sign still maybe? Thank you

  31. I have not eaten strawberries for over 50 years, when a tin of them consumed on a geography trip brought about a rash & tingling etc.(Fresh strawberries ahd always been a no go. I was able to eat processed ie Jam/ice cream etc, but have also given those up. In fact I much prefer raspberries anyway, with no side effects. The only problem is that stawberries have a ‘luxury’ status and are found in products which I would otherwise find edible.

  32. Ive never had a food allergy, ironically the one allergy I do have is to benadryl. So when I suffered my first reaction ever at the age of 48 I was unable to use the usual go to med. Over the course of three days I casually would grab a berry or two and munch away. The first day I notice some body itching and a bump/hive on my chin, the second day I had 2 big berries and within 20 min. my bottom lip became swollen and I had hives on my face with upper torso itching. I had been also working in the yard cleaning flower beds etc. so I figured it was spring allergies, the symptoms faded except for the body itching. Later that night my daughter & I were up late and began to snack on the strawberries. Within an hour I noticed some swelling on my tongue & as I got into bed I felt my upper lip fill with fluid, become hot and the hives and itching over my torso and arms returned with a vengeance. By the next morning the swelling had abated, yet skin remained tight and red. Ive an appt. next week with a Dr. Scary stuff and so hard to comprehend I’m dealing with a new food allergy at this stage in life. Thanks to all who posted their stories so that I had info to compare my experience and reactions to strawberry allergies.

  33. On monday I picked and ate strawberries. No problem. On tuesday I cleaned and ate strawberries. Shortly I began vomiting and diarehha. This lasted several hours then quit. The next day I felt fine. Ate supper then some strawberries a short time later. I again began vomitting and diarehha. This lasted many hours again. Then felt kind of weak and tired but otherwise ok. I am 60 years old and have always enjoyed strawberries. Can I develop an allergy to these from one day to the next?

  34. I am severely allergic to strawberries. Just one drop of strawberry juice on the back of my hand will cause an itchy rash and severe swelling up my arm, and up my neck and across my chest. If I ingest even the tiniest particle of strawberry, I go into anaphylactic shock. I have been like this my entire life. I have to stay clear of anything containing strawberries or strawberry flavourings/scents. It is actually very scary to realise how common strawberry is as an ingredient in so many products including washing powder, shampoos, air fresheners etc, all of which are potentially life threatening, and yet no one ever talks about just how dangerous this is, the only allergies ever mentioned by the media are peanuts and milk allergies etc. Strawberries never get mentioned. This should be rectified IMO. My son was also born with strawberry allergy, and has learned to check everything he eats or touches for strawberry content. Its sad we have to look through the small printed list of ingredients on packaging, and then have to look up artificial ingredient formulae to see if they contain strawberry extracts when this allergen should be clearly listed!!!

  35. My mother learned of my allergy when I was a child. She could not figure out why I was feeling sick and breaking out. Turns out, I have what I call a “Taste-Touch” allergy to strawberry. I can’t eat or touch them. I touch them I get headaches and rashes. I eat them I get all the normal symptoms and very close to anaphylactic reactions.

    So if you have kids with this allergy. Be careful of them touching strawberries as well. Also, watch out for raspberries and key limes as well.

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