Nutmeg is commonly confused with a nut, but nutmeg is not a part of the nut family and does not contain any nut proteins. Consequently, nutmeg is generally safe for consumption by people with a nut allergy. However, general allergic reactions, asthma and contact dermatitis have been reported by some people after taking touching or ingesting nutmeg. Any symptoms you develop after coming in contact with nutmeg needs to be reported to your doctor. In rare case, nutmeg may lead to a severe allergic reaction.
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A nutmeg allergy is not considered a common food allergy. It is caused by a hypersensitivity to the proteins found in the spice. Nutmeg is made from a seed that is ground up and commonly added to baked goods and drinks. If you are allergic to the plant's proteins, your body might react to your consumption of it by creating different chemicals to protect itself. Histamine and immunoglobulin E antibodies are released in the body and cause inflammation to develop in soft tissue, leading to common nutmeg allergy symptoms.
General allergic reactions can occur within a few minutes after you ingest nutmeg. Your nose may run, become congested or you may sneeze. Nasal symptoms may lead to sinus headaches, post nasal drip and facial pressure. Common digestive allergic reaction symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, gas, bloating, stomach pain and cramping. You may develop swelling in your lips, tongue or face along with itching. Your skin can become inflamed and develop hives and eczema.
Asthma can occur after you ingest nutmeg. Histamine released in the tissues that form your lungs will cause swelling and inflammation that can restrict your breathing. You may feel a lump in your throat, chest pain, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing and coughing. Asthma may be a sign of a serious allergic reaction that will require the attention of emergency medical professionals. If you feel lightheaded, dizzy or like you’re going to faint, call 911 immediately.
Contact dermatitis is an allergic skin condition that occurs after your comes into direct contact with nutmeg. This allergic reaction is localized to the area of skin that has been exposed to the allergen. Treat contact dermatitis with cleansing the localized area with soap and water and applying hydrocortisone. Contact dermatitis from a nutmeg allergy is prevented by avoiding direct contact with the spice.