Allergy to coconut or products that contain coconut is the the body’s immune system reaction to specific components of coconut. Coconut allergy is a food allergy and as such it can manifest with all the signs and symptoms of food allergies. Allergy reactions to coconut and coconut products seem to be rare in the United States. In fact, they are far less common than allergies to cashews, peanuts, and almonds. However, in countries where consumption is high it may be a significant source of allergies. In India, it is one of the most common food products to produce allergic reactions.
Symptoms of coconut allergy can vary considerable depending on the person’s sensitivity. A phenomenon of cross-reactivity between coconuts and hazelnuts and between coconuts and walnuts is observed. This means that a person diagnosed with allergy to walnuts or hazelnuts may be allergic to coconuts.
What are Common Coconut Allergy Symptoms?
As with any food allergy, coconut allergy reactions can be very different from person to person. They can vary from a simple rash that may last half an hour to very dangerous reactions such as anaphylactic shock. It will all depend on the susceptibility of the person to the components of coconut. A list of coconut allergy symptoms include:
- runny, itchy nose
- sinus pain
- red, watery, itchy eyes
- itchy and/or tingling mouth
- coughing, difficulty in breathing
- asthma-like symptoms
- skin rashes (especially on the face)
- light head after a meal
- skin itching
- nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- abdominal pain, digestion issues
- throat, tongue, and lip swelling
- red spots on the face
- sneezing, wheezing and other respiratory issues
- anaphylactic shock
Certain products derived from coconut, such as coconut diethanolamide, cocamide sulphate, cocamide DEA, and CDEA have shown to produce allergies in the form of dermatitis. These products may be present in shampoos, moisturisers, and soaps. Dermatitis is characterized by a blistering rash that may last several days.
If a person suspects to be allergic to coconuts, ingestion should be avoided. Many processed foods may contain coconut or coconut oils, not as the main ingredient but as a very minor ingredient. People sensitive to coconut may have allergy reactions to these minor components of processed foods. High coconut-sensitive people should be aware of traces of coconut present in certain unrelated products. Fortunately, the FDA makes mandatory to declare the possibility of traces of coconut in food labels. Orange juice, baked goods, and many other foods may contain traces of coconut.
Also, if an allergic skin reaction is observed, shampoos, creams, moisturizers and cosmetics should be examined for the possibility that they may contain products derived from coconut that may be causing contact dermatitis.
Powell, J. Allergies. Evans Brothers, 2007.
Bateson-Koch, C. Allergies: Disease in Disguise : How to Heal Your Allergic Condition Permanently and Naturally. Alive Books, 2003