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.

63 thoughts on “Strawberry Allergy

  1. I am so glad to hear that others have allergies to strawberries. Family and friends have made me feel like a freak because I wouldn’t eat strawberries. I’d go to family functions and always ask what type of fruit filling in cakes….if there’s strawberries, I won’t eat it. I’ve been allergic to strawberries since I was very young and am now in my 60’s. The reaction I had put me in the E.R. and am afraid to have contact with the fruit. I just wish people would understand.

  2. 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??

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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. ?

  8. 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!

  9. 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…

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