Allergies and food intolerances can be the cause of your chronic urticaria, which is characterized by the presence of reddish and itchy welts on your skin. Working with a registered dietitian experienced with food intolerances can help you identify what compounds in food trigger your chronic urticaria symptoms. In general, you should avoid foods containing preservatives, colorings and other chemicals because they could be part of your problem. Natural foods can also contain compounds that could also induce your urticaria.
Tomatoes are rich in salicylates, amines and glutamtes, three of the main natural food chemicals that can trigger chronic urticaria in sensitive people. Avoid eating fresh tomatoes as well as any food products containing tomato, tomato sauce, tomato juice, sun-dried tomato or tomato paste, such as tomato-based pasta dish like pizzas and lasagnas, soups and Mexican dishes.
Cheese is a source of amine; the tastier the cheese, the higher its amine content. If you know that amines are a problem for your urticaria, avoid eating cheese. You might be able to tolerate fresh cheeses such as cottage cheese and ricotta cheese, but do not eat aged cheese, such as Cheddar, blue cheese or Parmesan.
All herbs, including basil, thyme, sage, mint and rosemary, are rich sources of salicylate. If you are intolerant to this food chemical, choose bland foods. You can use salt, but avoid all other herbs and spices. Carefully read ingredient lists, because most processed foods contain dried herbs or other seasonings that could trigger your hives.
Honey is another rich source of salicylate. Do not use honey to sweeten your food, and avoid eating foods sweetened with honey. You also should avoid raw sugar and molasses, but regular table sugar as well as maple syrup are safe alternatives.
Aged and cured meats have a high content of amines, salicylates and glutamates. Do not eat bacon, sausages or deli meat if you want to control your urticaria symptoms. Working with a registered dietitian can help you figure out your degree of intolerance; some people can tolerate small servings of these foods occasionally.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Extra-virgin olive oil is among the oils with the highest natural food chemical content; do not use it for cooking or for your vinaigrette. Light or deodorized olive oil is a safer alternative that most people with chronic urticaria can tolerate.
Many fruits are rich in salicylate, one of the natural food chemicals that could be involved in your chronic urticaria problems. Berries--including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cranberries--are no exception, and you should eliminate them from your diet. You may then be able to have a few berries once in a while, but tolerance varies greatly from one person to another.
- "Clinical Allergy"; Management of Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria by the Identification and Exclusion of Dietary Factors; Anne Gibson and R. Clancy; 1980
- "RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook"; Allergy Unit, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; 2011
- American Academy of Dermatology: Hives