Strawberry Allergy

strawberry allergyMillions of people have allergies.  The range of allergic reactions to different allergens varies depending on the magnitude of the sensitivity and the type of reaction elicited.  Unfortunately, many people are allergic to strawberries.  I know what you are thinking: having strawberry allergies might just be a fate worse than death.  Of course, that is an exaggeration, but just think of a life devoid of the wonders of strawberries.

This post discusses the main aspects of strawberry allergies.  These include what causes the strawberry allergy, the different types of common reactions, and a possible method of getting around a strawberry allergy so that the delicious morsels can be enjoyed!

Strawberry Allergy: Reactions

There are multiple different reactions an individual can have if a strawberry allergy is present and the individual consumes or is exposed to strawberries.  The most severe is pseudoanaphylaxis.  This reaction is similar to allergic anaphylaxis except that it does not involve a true allergic response.  In pseudoanaphylaxis there is direct release of histamine when substances known as “histamine liberators” are encountered.  Strawberries serve as histamine liberators in susceptible people.  This reaction is quite serious and can kill the person with the strawberry allergy.

In people allergic to strawberries, a more common reaction is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS).  OAS usually develops in individuals who already suffer from hay fever allergies and is often brought on by eating fresh fruits or vegetables.

Other reactions can mimic hay fever, include skin reactions (dermatitis or hives), and can even result in breathing difficulties.

What Causes Strawberry Allergies

Strawberry allergies are not fully understood.  However, some research indicates that one of the primary players in strawberry allergy is linked to a protein involved with the ripening of the strawberries.  This protein was named Fragaria allergen 1, or Fra a1 for short.  This protein is responsible for the characteristic reddening of the strawberries as they ripen.

Allergic to Strawberries?

strawberry allergiesThere are two considerations to keep in mind when considering a strawberry allergy.  First, there are strawberry varieties that produce yellow or white strawberries.  These pale berries often completely lack the Fra a1 protein, and, consequently, they do not produce the flavonoids that appear red in most mature strawberries.  One such cultivar is ‘Sofar’, but it is difficult to purchase.  For readily available white strawberries, see the main White Strawberries page.

Second, birch and apples contain a proteins that are very similar to the Fra a1 protein.  Because of this, cross-sensitivity may develop, and an individual who is allergic to strawberries should be careful in regards to each of those plant species.

Strawberry Allergy: Conclusion

If you have a mild strawberry allergy, it might be ok to try one of the white or yellow varieties of strawberries to see if there is still a problem when they are eaten.  Of course, if you have a serious allergy, the attempt might prove fatal, so be wise.  If you are allergic to strawberry proteins of any sort, be sure to only try a strawberry under the careful observation of qualified medical personnel.

27 comments to Strawberry Allergy

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Cindy,
    I’m not an expert with medical conditions of the mouth or of allergies, but if the reaction happens after eating both strawberries and pineapple, it could be related to the acid content of the fruits. You should probably check with your doctor about it!

  • Cindy

    I LOVE strawberries. It seems I recently developed an allergic reaction to them. When I eat them, my mouth develops patches, like the outer layer of my tongue and the inside of my mouth becomes raw. It can become very painful and will last for a copule of days. I didn’t see snyone mention those symptoms, could it be something else and not the strawberries? This also happens when I eat fresh pineapple.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Cindy,
    To know for certain, be sure to check with your doctor or other qualified medical professional. However, there are glands and secretory areas that will often spasm with very sweet or tart tastes, both of which can be present with strawberries! It might just be that. Hope that helps!

  • Cindy

    When I eat raw strawberries my jaw tingles and sort of twinges. I didn’t read this as a sign of allergy to strawberries. Is it? If not what could it be? Should I be avoiding them?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    luminare ionel,
    I’d recommend starting with this. Treatment options can be found here. Good luck!

  • luminare ionel

    what insecticide should I use to control otiorynchus sulcatus larvae on strawberry crop

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Mary,
    A hypersensitivity to strawberry proteins/allergens can manifest virtually anywhere the body comes in contact with said proteins/allergens. However, strawberry proteins would have a very difficult time moving from the digestive tract into the blood to get to the ear. Unless strawberries are being inserted physically into the ear, an ear infection is much more likely to be caused by a virus or bacteria and not an allergy to strawberries. With health conditions, of course, be sure to consult a licensed medical practitioner for qualified guidance on the treatment and management of ailments.

  • Mary

    Can strawberry allergy manifest in the ears, like an ear infection?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    she’s,
    I’d pose this question to your pediatrician. He/she would be the best one to answer!

  • she's

    my almost 2 year old son just have some allergy testing and found out that he was allergic to strawberries but he has never had a reaction so could it be a false negative? or should I still avoid them

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Me,
    No way for me to say! I’d recommend visiting your medical doctor to evaluate it.

  • Me

    I am a 15 years old boy and i like strawberries but whenever i eat too much strawberries i end up having a really weak kinda rash wich desseapears in no time wich only started happening 2 year ago, but the rash is so weak i end up just ignorinig it, should i? or is it just the beginning of a serious allergy.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Alex,
    It is hard to say without being able to examine the rash. You should probably take him to a pediatrician or allergist to have him tested. Most of the time, allergies are more of a nuisance. But, in some people, they can cause anaphylactic shock and kill.

  • Alex

    Hi,
    My 9month old son seems to get a rash on his face when he’s eaten strawberries. Is it likely that he will only get a rash from his allergy or could it also cause breathing difficulties on subsequent exposure? And is this likely to be a lifelong allergy?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Sue,
    Yes, theoretically it is possible. Not all proteins that are found in the leaves are also contained in the fruits. As such, you may have developed antibodies to specific antigens that are contained only in the vegetative components of the plants. If that is the case, contact with the component to which you have developed antibodies may trigger an immune response such as the symptoms you mentioned.

  • Sue

    Thanks. I am pretty sure it is the leaves, as I do not put any pesticides on my plants. Is it possible to not have an allergy to the strawberries themselves, even though I seem to be allergic to the leaves? Sue

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Sue,
    It is possible that you are allergic to a compound found only in the leaves. It may be, however, that you are allergic to something external, like a pesticide or something else in the immediate vicinity.

  • Sue

    I developed a skin rash from eating store purchased strawberries, I discovered this when I started growing my own organically and did not get the rash. I do however, get a terrible itchy, red, raised rash, when picking them, from the leaves of the plant. Does this mean that I shouldn’t eat the strawberries? I haven’t noticed the rash from eating them, only from contact with the leaves. I guess my question is: Can one have an allergy to the leaves and not the berries?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Paige,
    It is definitely possible. The hormones your body produces can trigger all sorts of skin conditions, so I’d say it might be related. Be sure to check with your health care professional, and congratulations on the baby!

  • Paige

    I recently ate a bunch of chocolate covered strawberries for my b-day. I got a rash on my arms. It seems mild. I couldn’t figure out what is was at first. I’m pregnant too. This happened in my first pregnancy when I ate too many pecans… Could my pregnancies just be making me sensitive when I don’t have problems not pregnant?

  • Will Denn

    As a kid I was allergic to pollen in the Northeast. I moved to the Southeast and I no longer needed to get shots. Several years later I developed nut and food (OAS) allergies.

    I am able to eat most fruit and vegetables once they are cooked but not raw. SO I can’t eat raw strawberries but I can eat frozen strawberries in syrup or strawberry jelly.

    OAS and nut allergies are the worst.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Kristine,
    Yes, most allergies require some sort of sensitization with a reaction after a subsequent exposure. The antibodies in the blood that cause the reaction are formed after the immune system has been exposed to a specific antigen.

  • Kristine

    My daughter loves strawberries. She is 12. She recently ate real strawberry jam and the same day had strawberry yogurt. She hasn’t ate strawberries in a couple months. She had a horrible reaction -hive covering her entire torso and back and spreading. Took her to the doctor, steroids and massive amounts of benadryl, she is cleared up. The doctor didn’t seem fazed that this has never happened before.
    Is it normal to “just develop” the allergy after being able to eat the strawberries for years?

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Andrea Ward,
    Thanks for the tip, but I’d recommend using extreme caution for anyone that has a strawberry allergy. To truly alleviate an allergy, the pepper would have to completely denature and break down the protein markers that one’s body recognizes as foreign in the strawberry. I’m not aware of any mechanism that would allow pepper to do that. So, caution would likely be a good course here. Thanks for the suggestion, though!

  • Andrea Ward

    If allergic to strawberries in that they bring you out in hives/heat lumps, put pepper on them before eating. This really does work. Might sound silly but it is worth a try.

  • Mr. Strawberry

    Dawn,
    My recommendation would be to see a dermatologist or general medical doctor about your ailment. I have no medical advice to give regarding it! If you can plant them, eat strawberries, and work in them during the summer, it seems unlikely to me that you are allergic to them. It could be that you are allergic to something in the soil or something sprayed on them prior to sorting. Good luck finding out what is causing your rash!

  • Dawn

    I work on a farm and a part of my job is to sort the daughter strawberry plants from the mother plants. The only problem is that after 9-10 hours daily sorting the plants I get a severe rash on my right forearm. I have done this job for a few years and have always got the rash on my arm from doing so but now the rash is covering a bigger area. My question is, “Is is safe for me to sort the plants if I do have an allergy to the plants?” I eat strawberries throughout the summer months and I can plant them and work in them during the summer, but sorting them seems to make me break out in hives.
    thanks, Dawn

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