An Allergy to Lemongrass

Lemongrass is an herb that is commonly used in Asian cuisine, herbal teas and in essential oil form, according to Depending on how you use lemongrass can determine what type of allergic reaction you will experience. An allergic reaction to lemongrass is unlikely, but it can cause common food allergy symptoms if ingested or allergic contact dermatitis, if used on the skin. Any unpleasant symptoms that develop from using lemongrass need to be discussed with your doctor. Discontinue use until further instructed by your physician.

Lemongrass can cause skin reactions. (Image: PhanuwatNandee/iStock/Getty Images)

Food Allergy

Lemongrass is not listed as a common food to cause a food allergy, but if ingested in herbal tea or as an herb in a meal, you can develop food allergy symptoms. A food allergy is when your body fails to identify the lemongrass as a safe substance. The body responds to the herb as an intruding substance by creating antibodies and chemicals like histamine. This causes soft tissues to constrict, become inflamed and swell, according to the Mayo Clinc. This is the cause of most food allergy symptoms.


Symptoms of a food allergy will affect your respiratory system, digestive system and skin. Symptoms may develop within a few minutes or up to two hours after ingesting the herb. The lungs and the sinuses are the primary parts of the respiratory tract that are affected. You can develop shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, nasal congestion, a runny nose, sneezing and postnasal drip. The digestive system may respond with gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. The skin can become irritated, itchy and develop hives or eczema, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction of the skin that occurs when you touch lemongrass. Lemongrass is commonly used as essential oil, placed on the skin for its fragrance. If you are allergic, within minutes of placing the oil on your skin it will become inflamed, red, painful and itchy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If this occurs, wash the affected area with soap and water, apply a cold compress and hydrocortisone cream. Call your doctor for further evaluation.


As with any allergic reaction, a severe reaction may occur if you are allergic to lemongrass. Anaphylaxis is an all-body allergic reaction that can lead to death if not properly treated. Anaphylaxis signs and symptoms include inability to breathe, facial swelling, hives, lightheadedness and an increased heart rate. If these symptoms develop, call 911 or go immediately to an emergency room.

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