If you're diagnosed with a strawberry allergy, which may cause an itchy mouth, scratchy throat and swelling of the mouth and throat, you may also have a strawberry family allergy. This means you may need to avoid apples, pears, cherries and peaches, among other fruits in the Rosaceae family.
What Is a Strawberry Allergy?
A strawberry allergy is considered an oral allergy. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, oral allergy syndrome — also known as pollen-food allergy syndrome — is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in both pollen and raw fruits, vegetables and some tree nuts. It affects many people who have hay fever.
If you are diagnosed with this condition, certain fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts or spices may cause your mouth to tingle or itch. In serious cases, these allergens may lead to swelling of the throat or life-threatening anaphylaxis.
The Mayo Clinic notes that the proteins in strawberries and other fruits may cause these adverse effects because they're similar to the allergy-causing proteins found in certain pollens. This is an example of cross-reactivity.
People with oral allergy syndrome can usually eat the fruits or vegetables to which they are allergic, but only in cooked form because their proteins are altered during the heating process. The body doesn't react in the same way to the cooked food — for example, you may be allergic to apples but can safely eat applesauce.
Oral allergy syndrome may cause an itchy mouth, scratchy throat, swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue and throat, itchy ears or hives on the mouth. Symptoms usually don't progress beyond the mouth. A diagnosis of oral allergy syndrome is made after assessing a patient's clinical history or by conducting skin prick tests and oral food challenges with raw fruits or vegetables.
Strawberry Family Allergy
If you are allergic to strawberries, you may find you also have a strawberry family allergy — meaning you're allergic both to strawberries and other fruits and vegetables that are considered part of the same family.
A February 2017 article in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution states that strawberries are members of the Rosaceae family. You may be unable to eat other raw fruits in this family if you're allergic to strawberries. These include pears, peaches, cherries, apples, raspberries and blackberries, among others.
Oral allergy syndrome has been linked to pollen allergies. Strawberries and other fruits in the Rosaceae family are also linked to birch allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
The symptoms of oral allergy syndrome usually subside when the raw fruit or vegetable causing them is swallowed or taken out of the mouth. Beware, though — if your symptoms are severe or life-threatening, you should seek medical help immediately.
Read more: Skin Rash From Fruits and Vegetables
Avoiding Strawberry Allergy Rash
The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to identify and avoid any foods that may trigger it, points out the Mayo Clinic. Pay attention to what you're eating and drinking, particularly when you are not at home, and make a habit out of checking food labels.
Other ways to avoid a strawberry allergy rash include:
- Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace that lets others know about your condition. This may help in case you experience a severe allergic reaction and you're unable to communicate.
- Talk to your doctor about prescribing emergency epinephrine.
- Be careful at restaurants and ask questions about the food served. Mention your strawberry family allergy to the server.
If you suspect you have a strawberry family allergy, speak with your doctor. In the meantime, try to avoid raw apples, apricots, almonds, cherries, raspberries, peaches, plums, quince, blackberries and other foods in the Rosaceae family. Despite their health benefits, they may trigger allergic reactions.
- American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: "Oral Allergy Syndrome"
- Mayo Clinic: "Food Allergy"
- Molecular Biology and Evolution: "Evolution of Rosaceae Fruit Types Based on Nuclear Phylogeny in the Context of Geological Times and Genome Duplication"
- Mayo Clinic: "Food Allergy vs. Food Intolerance: What's the Difference?"