An allergic reaction to carrots can be one element of oral allergy syndrome, which is also known as pollen-food allergy syndrome. A person with this syndrome is allergic to pollens in certain raw fruits, vegetables, and nuts. After eating a trigger food, they experience an itchy throat, mouth, or ears.
If a person has a severe allergy to carrots, their reaction may be serious, especially if they have come into contact with the raw vegetable.
Anyone with a food allergy should consult a doctor to determine the best course of action.
In this article, we examine the signs, symptoms, and diagnosis of a carrot allergy. We also look at the types of foods to avoid.
An allergic reaction to carrots can lead to itchiness in the mouth and throat.
A person with this allergy may notice symptoms after eating raw carrot. Cooked carrots tend to cause more minor reactions, as the cooking process breaks down allergens.
Symptoms of a carrot allergy can range from mild to severe, but they are likely to be mild.
Typical symptoms include:
- an itchy tongue, mouth, lips, ears, or throat
- swelling in the mouth area
- a scratchy feeling in the throat
Occasionally, symptoms may be severe and require treatment. More severe symptoms can include:
- breathing problems
- swollen skin
- a cough
- a sore throat
- a runny nose
- tightness in the chest
In rare cases, anaphylaxis can occur. This life-threatening allergic reaction causes the body to go into shock and requires emergency medical attention.
When introducing a baby to any new food, it is important to watch for allergic reactions. If any symptoms develop, consult a doctor.
How common is a carrot allergy?
Anyone who suspects that they have an allergy should visit a doctor.
The doctor will likely begin by reviewing the person's symptoms and family history. They may then recommend allergy testing.
A skin prick test, also called a scratch test, may be used. It involves the doctor placing a tiny amount of the allergen, in this case carrot, on a person's forearm or back. They then prick or scratch the area, allowing the allergen to penetrate the skin.
If the test is positive, a person will develop small red bumps at the site.
The doctor may suggest that a person follow a special diet for several days and keep a food diary to record what they ate and how they felt. This information will help the doctor to determine whether the person has a food allergy.
Depending on the results, a doctor may then suggest a food challenge, in which a person eats a small amount of a suspected trigger food and any reactions are recorded.
Foods to avoid
Vegetable juices and smoothies should be avoided, as many contain carrots.
Most people with a carrot allergy know to avoid carrots, both raw and cooked. However, carrots can be included in a surprisingly large range of products.
A person with a carrot allergy should carefully check the ingredients of:
- prepared pot roasts
- vegetable juices
- premade smoothies
- canned soups and stews
- prepackaged rice dishes
- many roasted meat dishes
- premade cooking stock or broth
- some baked goods
Personal hygiene products can also include carrots. A person with an allergy should check the labels of lotions, face masks, and soaps.
The best treatment for a carrot allergy is to avoid coming into contact with the vegetable. Doctors may recommend using antihistamines to control or reduce symptoms of allergic reactions.
If a person with a carrot allergy develops symptoms of anaphylaxis, they need immediate medical treatment, which involves:
- supplemental oxygen
- antihistamines and steroids delivered to a vein
- medicines that open the airways and facilitate breathing
CPR may also be necessary. In this procedure, chest compressions help to pump blood through the heart.
A person is more likely to have a carrot allergy if they are allergic to birch pollen.
A person is more likely to have a carrot allergy if they are allergic to some other foods and plants, such as birch pollen, which contains proteins similar to those in carrots.
Being allergic to other plants in the parsley and carrot family may also increase a person's risk. These plants include:
When to see a doctor
Anyone who suspects that they have an allergy should see a doctor.
A person with a carrot allergy should seek emergency medical attention if they have any symptoms of anaphylaxis, including:
- low blood pressure
- a weak, fast pulse
- loss of consciousness
- trouble breathing
- a swollen tongue or throat
- nausea or vomiting
Most people with carrot allergies can prevent reactions by avoiding carrots and products that contain them.
Anyone with a food allergy should carefully read the labels of packaged foods and personal hygiene products.
When necessary, a doctor can recommend allergy medications that help to reduce symptoms.