Bright red juicy strawberry is the biggest springtime temptation. In the world of fruits, strawberry, the small tasty little bulb, gives almost everything your body needs. It is the versatile fruit, rich in a number of nutrients like vitamin C, iron, potassium, folic acid, etc. Perhaps, it is the only fruit which wears its 200 seeds on its skin! This little cousin sister of the rose is low in calories and also blessed with a unique flavor and essence. In spite of numerous health benefits, strawberries can cause allergies to humans. Babies or toddlers may also have strawberry allergy.
- Numbness and tingling in mouth
- Burning lips
- Intestinal distress
- Swelling and closing of bronchial tubes
- Nasal congestion, excessive sneezing
- Swelling of sinuses, a runny nose
- Shortness of breath (in severe cases)
- Contact dermatitis
- Skin rash or hives
- Red, puffy and itchy skin
- Watery eyes
- Nausea, vomiting
- Bloating, diarrhea
- Swelling of tongue, mouth, and throat
- Anaphylactic shock (in very rare cases)
Most people experience strawberry allergy rash after eating or handling strawberries and such type of allergy can be confirmed with allergy testing by a professional allergist. Once the allergy is confirmed, you have to be very careful while selecting food and other consumer products; as strawberries are present in a number of products.
Products that Contain Strawberries
Do you know that strawberry leaves are sometimes added to herbal teas? Strawberries in the form of extract are used in certain cosmetics, particularly skin care products, shampoos and conditioners. They are used as an ingredient while manufacturing air fresheners and laundry detergents. Manufacturers usually mention on the labels that the product contains strawberries as an ingredient. So, you should read the labels carefully. Artificial strawberry flavoring does not contain the particular protein that causes an allergic reaction and so it is considered as safe.
Children Allergic to Strawberries
Parents should be very careful about strawberry allergies in children, because avoiding strawberry products can get tricky. Chocolate covered strawberries, various mixed fruit juices, ice creams, milkshakes, pastries, pies, jams can be so tempting that the child might forget about the allergy for a while. Heating and processing of strawberries cannot modify the protein. So processed strawberries (e.g. jam) should also be avoided. Parents should take time to check the labels.
Strawberry as an Allergen
If your immune system mistakenly considers the proteins from strawberries as harmful substances, it will initiate an allergic response to protect your body. Scientists are researching on why some people are allergic to strawberry while others are not.
Some researchers have succeeded in isolating the specific protein which is considered as the culprit for the allergy. This protein is one of the proteins which offers red color to strawberries. The researchers could not find it in white strawberries. The molecular structure of this protein is somewhat similar to the structure of birch pollen. So, it is quite possible that a person allergic to birch pollen may also be allergic to strawberry; but not vice versa.
Perhaps, your first exposure to strawberry may not trigger a violent allergic reaction. Your immune system starts producing immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to neutralize the particular protein, on exposure to strawberries. When you are exposed to strawberry for the second time, the IgE antibodies enter the blood and activate body cells to produce histamine. The hormone 'histamine' encourages dilation of the blood vessels and fluid secretion. This can result in muscle spasms. Histamine causes irritation and inflammation of the sinuses, lungs and skin.
You may apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams over the inflamed skin. The doctor may prescribe corticosteroid lotions that help lower the symptoms (inflammation and itching) of allergy. Oral and topical antihistamines work great for allergies.
Those who are allergic to strawberries may eat white strawberries that do not contain the allergen. They should avoid handling strawberries or eating strawberries and their products. This is the best way to manage the allergy.