Tomatoes and Itchy Skin

Fresh tomatoes
Tomatoes growing on a vine. (Image: Virynja/iStock/Getty Images)

Itchy skin after eating tomatoes may be more common than you think. The acidity from the tomato can cause skin irritation and can even cause allergic contact dermatitis. Allergic contact dermatitis is not the same condition as a food allergy because it’s only a surface allergy that occurs whenever you touch tomatoes with your skin, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. If you develop itchy skin primarily on your lips or in your mouth and throat after eating tomatoes and you suffer from hay fever, you may be experiencing oral allergy syndrome. A food allergy can be life threatening and if you're having difficulty breathing, seek immediate medical attention.

Itchy Skin

Your skin may be sensitive and is easily irritated by various citrus and highly acidic fruits and vegetables. After eating or touching a tomato, your skin may become slightly itchy without a lot of other irritation. If your skin is severely itchy and it becomes inflamed and swollen, you may be experiencing allergic contact dermatitis. This condition is a localized allergic reaction that only occurs on the surface of the skin. This rash is sometimes difficulty to diagnose because it has the appearance of various other rashes. Your doctor will determine the cause.

Allergic Skin Rashes

If you have a hypersensitivity of the skin, you may develop hives or eczema triggered by touching or eating tomatoes. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology states that hives are distinctive because of their appearance. They tend to form in clusters, look like welts, and form in various shapes and sizes. Hives can develop anywhere on the body and are very itchy. Eczema is a chronic skin condition that can flare-up whenever the skin is irritated. Eczema looks more like blisters and can form sporadically on the skin.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

If you suffer from grass pollen allergies, eating tomatoes during pollen season may cause your lips, mouth and throat to become itchy immediately afterward. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia states that the proteins in tomatoes can be mistaken by your immune system for grass pollen. Oral allergy syndrome primarily causes skin itching in the mouth region and very rarely will cause irritation anywhere else.

Considerations and Treatment

Talk with your health care provider for the most effective treatment based on your diagnosis. Avoiding direct contact is the most effective way to treat itchy skin from tomatoes. If you accidentally eat tomatoes, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends using hydrocortisone cream and taking an oral antihistamine. Cooking the tomatoes can modify the protein structure and may prevent these conditions.

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