Extra virgin coconut oil is used for cooking and to treat head lice, dry skin, irritable bowel syndrome and heart disease. If you are allergic to coconut oil, you may experience reactions that affect your digestive system, respiratory system and skin after eating it or coming in contact with it. If you have any reaction at all to coconut oil, consult your physician before using or consuming it again.
Although the proteins in coconut oil are safe for human consumption, if you are allergic, your body mistakes the proteins as dangerous invaders and reacts as if it's under attack. This reaction causes the production of immunoglobulin E antibodies, histamine and other chemicals that cause inflammation in the soft tissues of your body. Most symptoms of an coconut oil allergy are related to inflammation and can cause life-threatening symptoms in some people. Inflammation can restrict your breathing, cause your blood pressure to drop and increase your heart rate. These symptoms can lead to death if not treated.
An allergic reaction to extra virgin coconut oil that's been eaten will cause symptoms to develop in different parts of your body. Your respiratory system may react, causing nasal congestion, asthma, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. You may become nauseous, vomit, develop diarrhea, become bloated and have excessive gas from a digestive reaction. Your skin can become inflamed and trigger hives or eczema within a few minutes of consuming the oil, whether eaten in food form or taken in a pill.
Extra virgin coconut oil is used topically for various conditions, such as lice, psoriasis and dry skin. Applying the oil directly to your skin can cause an allergic reaction called allergic contact dermatitis, which will only occur at the site of contact. Your skin may become itchy, red and inflamed, or may even blister. Treat this allergic reaction by washing away the oil with soap and water. Call your doctor and ask about using hydrocortisone -- a common anti-inflammatory medication -- to reduce the swelling.
Allergy testing may be required to diagnose your condition. Testing involves challenging your body, to see if it reacts to coconut oil, by introducing a small amount of oil under the top layer of your skin. If your immune system creates immunoglobulin E antibodies, you're allergic and may have to avoid contact with all products that contain coconut. Your doctor will discuss the test results with you.
Extra virgin coconut oil is found in any products that contain coconut, such as candy bars, pina colada mix, coconut ice cream, coconut milk and desserts containing coconut. Coconut oil is easy to identify and is not typically hidden in many foods. Carefully read the ingredients list on product packaging, and let your server know you're allergic to coconut products when you eat at a restaurant.