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.

62 thoughts on “Strawberry Allergy

  1. 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

    • 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!

  2. 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.

    • 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!

  3. 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?

    • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

    • 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!

  6. 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?

  7. 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

    • 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.

  8. 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?

    • 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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

    • 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.

  11. 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?

    • 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!

  12. 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.

    • 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!

  13. My daughter is on an elimination diet to see if a symptom is food related. After eatin strawberries(a permitted food) her face swelled. Is this reaction a strawberry allergy?

    • KitKat,
      It sounds like it very well might be, but you should consult with your doctor or other qualified medical professional as allergies can be fatal! Good luck!

  14. I am almost 30 years old and have eaten stawberries since I can remember. Just recently I planted some strawberries in my garden and they started to ripen, so I ate a few. Within a few minutes of me eating them my mouth and throat started itching really bad. Is this an allergy that I am just now developing or is it something the nursery did to them to make them before I planted them? I wash all my fruits pretty good before eating them and I don’t use pesticides.

    • Danielle,
      I’m not sure. It could be either one, or it could be that there was a dusting of pollen or some other substance on the berries you ate that caused your reaction. I’d recommend consulting with a medical professional to get it sorted out as allergies can be dangerous! Good luck!

  15. I ate a strawberry shortcake on 4th of july of this year within in 24 hrs I had hives ami allergic to frozen strawberries or the proteins of the strawberries I have been eating strawberries foever and never had an allergic reaction I had to go to the Er in july of this year

    • katie wilkinson,
      I’m not sure. I’d definitely recommend taking this matter up with your doctor. It is possible that you may have been allergic to something else in the dessert, maybe even one of the food additives. Good luck identifying the culprit!

    • Ask what else was on the cake? Did you make it? Do you have any other allergies? Do you trust who made to not cross contaminate? Ask all this befor trying a new allergen.

    • Amanda,
      No, not necessarily. If you can identify the specific bioflavonoid or compound to which you are allergic, simply avoiding other foods that contain it should be sufficient. Good luck!

    • Hi. I’ve been avoiding (aka allergic) to strawberries since I can remember but blueberrues, raspberries, blackberry and hoysenberries have never bothered me.I grew up with many of these vines and enjoyed picking them.

  16. I knew I was allergic to strawberries since I was 4! But when people ask if im allergic to anything and I say strawberries the look at me like im crazy! Its great to know im not the only one!

  17. Hi my son was 2month old when he got dignosed with a cows milk alargy he 17months old now an he remains on soya milk am adding dairy into his diet an he’s been’fine no reaction what it is he has had strawberry yohurts (the little kids pots like munch bunch yoghurts) he was fine then he had a differeant brand strawberry youghurt (muller light brand) it was 8%strawberry puree an he had a reaction to it his face went read an blotchy straight away could this be a reaction to the strawberry or the yoghurt?

  18. My 19 month old daughter had a reaction after she ate strawberry. Her upper lip was swollen and vomitted 2x, with some red patches. She used to drink strawberry yogurt but for the fresh ones, its her second time to have it. Is it bec. Straberry yogurt has been processed? Any explanation to that?

    • Zari,
      It could be a number of things. Much strawberry yogurt is just regular plain yogurt with strawberry flavoring added. So, the proteins that are potentially causing the allergic reaction with your daughter aren’t actually present in the yogurt, which is just colored and flavored with substances that actually don’t come from a strawberry at all. It is also possible that your daughter is having a reaction to pesticides or fertilizers or other chemicals used in the growing process, and isn’t having a reaction to the strawberry at all. Either way, I hope you are able to figure it out as food allergies can be very concerning. Good luck!

  19. hello, I have a question in regards of which strawberry variety to pick to grow myself for my family (my husband is allergic to strawberries) so all of us could enjoy those tasty berries. I have heard that Pineberry ones may still contain allergy causing protein. I am wondering about White Soul variety if they are more safe to try to consume for person with strawberry allergy. I would appreciate if someone could tell me which variety pick.
    Thank you

    • Kate,
      White Soul or another of the white alpine varieties would be the safest choice, but be sure you only try it under the supervision of a medical professional. The compound that most people are allergic to is the one that makes strawberries red, but people are also allergic to other proteins contained within strawberries. If you husband is allergic to one of those, eating any strawberry, even a white one, could cause serious problems. Good luck, and be careful!

  20. Sorry. This pseudo shot is wrong. I work at at school and they serve strawberries with lunch due to my reactions (documented including an epi pen use and two trips to the er) I no longer go to the cafeteria unless someone is dying. This is a true allergy.

  21. Hello,
    My 9 year old son broke out in an itchy hive rash last eve, with the only culprit I could narrow it down to being that he ate a strawberry out of our garden. He’s been eating strawberries his whole life, but this was his first pick of the year from our garden.

    We are not sure what type of strawberry plant it is. This is our 2nd year with the plant but last year it did not produce any fruit. It’s a 100% organic garden that we have never added any chemicals or fertilizer to.

    I am a nurse and 100% sure it was an allergic reaction. He was fine this morning after taking a big dose of Benedryl and an oatmeal bath last night.

    Just wondering your opinion on this. I’ve also recently learned that you can be allergic to only the green leaf of the strawberry plant. He says he did not eat any of the leaf. Thanks in advance!

    • Lisa,
      While it is possible that he had a genuine allergic response to the strawberry, it is more likely that he had a reaction to something else that was on the strawberry (pollen, dust, bug secretions, etc.) since he has consumed them safely for the rest of his life. My guess is that if you have him eat another strawberry that has been washed thoroughly, he will be able to do so without another reaction. Good luck!

  22. My 9 yr old granddaughter has had an unusual problem with strawberries, and now the same has happened with the Minute Maid Tropical Blend fruit juice. When strawberries come into contact with her lips, she develops a bad reaction…swelling and blisters of the lips. But if she puts the strawberries into her mouth (or drinks the juice through a straw), by-passing the lips, there’s no reaction.

  23. My 9 year old daughter has been allergic to strawberries since infancy…. like some of these answers have stated, you need to be aware of what you eat bought from store, or made by friends… my daughter was a a sleep over and the parents told her it was artificial strawberries with very little natural strawberry in cake/cupcakes. … my daughter ate them and wound up at ER @ 12:45 AM… Please make your children that may have or do have ANY allergy aware…

  24. Hello. I am a 30 year old female. Strawberries have been a favorite of mine my whole life. However, these past few summers I have noticed my eczema flaring up more than the past (it doesn’t appear as a rash, more like dry itchy skin on my eyes and tiny bumps on my arms). I haven’t made a connection to it possibly being a strawberry sensitivity until this year, when my skin has become extremely itchy all over about 6-8 hours after I eat them. Is this a coincidence? Is it a sensitivity? I have no other symptoms. And I only really eat strawberries in the summer when they are in season.

    Also, are the strawberries in Yoplait yogurt as “high risk?” Since they are boiled and I’m guessing the components are broken down? There are chunks of actual strawberries.

    • Barbara,
      The only way to find out for sure is to be allergy tested for strawberries. Most people who are allergic to strawberries are specifically allergic to the compounds that give strawberries their red colors. So, if you are sensitive to that, you would likely have the same reaction to fresh or boiled berries, unless they have been boiled enough to completely denature the proteins. Additionally, if the strawberries you eat are not organic, you might also be allergic to or having a reaction to the pesticide residues that are on most non-organic strawberries. Good luck!

  25. I didn’t eat strawberries much as a child or teenager, but fell in love with them as an adult. I ate about 10 in one go a few years ago, and ended up with horrible itchy hives all over my neck and lower half of my face. It lasted a week, and antihistamine barely took the itch away. Since then, I’ve been careful and mostly (sadly) avoiding strawberries, but having one here and there to test it.. and besides a slight itch, redness and little bumps, nothing too bad. This weekend though, I ate two strawberries from a strawberry farm, they had been washed well. I’ve ended up with a rash all over my neck and chin way worse than the first time, the itch is unbearable! So grateful I don’t get the swelling or breathing difficulties. I’m so sad though, it really does seem like I’ll have to give up strawberries 🙁 I wonder if I can find the white varieties in Melbourne somewhere.. do they still taste similar to the red varieties?

    • Kylie,
      Yes, the white strawberries taste similar to the red ones, but they aren’t as prolific. Consequently, very few (if any) commercial producers grow them. Good luck!

    • Hello Kylie. I also suffer from a strawberry allergy that only started when I was an adult. My son, however, is allergic to all stinging bees and takes allergy shots to help him become desensitized. Because of his life threatening bee allergy I have since learned a lot about the dangers of allergies. I was told by his allergist that your first exposure to an allergen is usually mild but will become more severe each time you are exposed. If a person continues to expose themselves to the allergen, anaphylaxis usually occurs which eventually can result in death. If I were you I would be careful. ?

  26. I work in a assisted living and I just received a new resident who has an allergy to strawberries. The family says “Strawberries and things like that” when I ask what else “Things” are they don’t have anything else to add. If one is allergic to Strawberries what else could she possibly be allergic to? Like certain red dyes? Any help or suggestions would be great!! 🙂

    Thank You!!

    • Christie,
      I do not know. If the allergy is serious, I would recommend getting the resident allergy tested. Good luck!

  27. Kristy: As someone who has been allergic to strawberries since I was a kid I can can advise that kiwi fruit is a common co allergen if that is the correct term.

  28. My allergic reaction to strawberries is that my lip swells. I was chatting to a scientist one day who mentioned that the most allergenic part of the strawberry is the white fuzzy part inside that’s concentrated near where the stem connects. I now cut that part out when I have strawberries and no longer have a reaction at all. -Sara

  29. I have known that I am allergic to strawberries since I was 6 and had hives at the same time as mumps. 65 years later I still avoid them. The reaction is usually hives and the last time it happened I had bought strawberries for my husband. He cleaned them, cut them up and ate them. I did not think that I had touched them and still got hives. Once I developed a mild cough after eating the kids’ Berry Berry Kix. I watch for things like Skittles and the strawberry juice I found listed on the label of Cran- Raspberry juice.

  30. I have an interesting problem. I can eat strawberries, I can eat pineapple, but not together. I can’t find anywhere what makes these two together, give me an allergic reaction. Anyone have any ideas??

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