Foods that cause itching

8 foods that may cause itching as an allergic reaction

Although a wide range of conditions can cause itchy skin, it's often a common food allergy symptom. Here are 8 foods that can cause itching as an allergic reaction.

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Last updated on June 16, 2022, and last reviewed by an expert on June 7, 2022.

Although a wide range of conditions can cause your skin to itch, itchy skin is often a common food allergy symptom.

Food allergies are typically caused by exposure to specific proteins in foods, which the immune system identifies as invaders and produces antibodies to fight against.

Identifying potential allergens in your diet is the best way to avoid adverse symptoms of a food allergy, including itching.

Here are 8 foods that can cause itching as an allergic reaction.

1. Soy

Although soy allergies are most common among infants and children, it’s estimated that soy allergies may affect up to 0.5% of the general population.

This allergy is caused by a reaction to soy protein, which is found in many soy-based products like soybeans, edamame, miso, tofu, and tempeh.

Soy allergies can cause several side effects, including atopic dermatitis, which is characterized by itching and inflammation of the skin.

It may also cause other adverse health effects, including swelling, tingling of the mouth, stomach pain, and wheezing.

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Although people with a soy allergy should avoid all soy-based products, some processed ingredients like refined soy oil and soy lecithin — a food additive — can often be safely consumed.

Summary: Soy allergies are caused by an allergic reaction to soy protein and can cause itching and inflammation of the skin, stomach pain, and wheezing.

2. Peanuts

Peanut allergies are not only one of the most common food allergies but also one of the most dangerous.

Among those with a peanut allergy, specific proteins found in peanuts can trigger an immune response in the body.

Peanut allergies are often characterized by skin rashes and other symptoms like swelling under the skin, wheezing, shortness of breath, and digestive issues.

In severe cases, peanut allergies may also cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Research shows that having asthma may increase the risk of severe allergic reactions in people with a peanut allergy.

In some cases, highly refined peanut oil may be safe for those with an allergy to peanuts. However, cold-pressed or unrefined peanut oils should be avoided.

Those with a peanut allergy should talk with their healthcare provider before adding peanut products to their diet.

Summary: Peanut allergies are triggered by proteins in peanuts and can cause skin rashes, swelling, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

3. Shellfish

Shellfish are a type of fish with a hard shell or shell-like exterior, including shrimps, lobsters, squids, crabs, and oysters.

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Shellfish allergies are usually caused by a type of protein found in shellfish known as tropomyosin.

In mild cases, an allergic reaction to shellfish can cause symptoms like hives, skin rashes, and itching.

In more severe cases, it can also cause low blood pressure, wheezing, and even anaphylaxis, which can be fatal.

While some people with a shellfish allergy experience adverse reactions to all shellfish, others may only need to avoid certain types.

Summary: An allergic reaction to shellfish can cause hives and itching, along with other side effects like low blood pressure, wheezing, and anaphylaxis.

4. Wheat

Wheat is one of the most widely cultivated crops around the globe.

It’s also one of the most common food allergens, affecting up to 1% of children and adults.

Wheat allergies are caused by exposure to the proteins found in wheat, including albumin, gliadin, globulin, and gluten. This can cause issues like itching, digestive distress, and respiratory problems.

Some research shows that wheat allergies are more common among those with underlying conditions like asthma, eczema, or seasonal allergies.

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Those with an allergy to wheat need to avoid all foods that contain wheat, including bread, flour, pasta, crackers, couscous, bulgur, farro, and farina.

It’s also important to read food labels carefully, as wheat is sometimes also found in products like salad dressings, sauces, soups, and processed meats.

Summary: Wheat allergies are caused by proteins found in wheat and can cause itching, digestive problems, and respiratory issues.

5. Cow’s milk

Cow’s milk allergy is a problem that’s especially prevalent among infants and children.

Whey and casein — two proteins found in cow’s milk — are the two most common culprits of allergic reactions.

Among those allergic to them, exposure can cause swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, as well as itching or tingling around the mouth.

It may also lead to vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, wheezing, and anaphylaxis.

Treatment involves avoiding dairy products and foods that contain cow’s milk, including yogurt, cheese, butter, and ice cream.

Summary: An allergic reaction to the proteins found in cow’s milk may cause itching, swelling of the tongue or throat, or tingling around the mouth.

6. Eggs

Egg allergies are typically caused by specific proteins found in egg whites, including ovalbumin, ovotransferrin, egg white lysozyme, and ovomucin.

One of the main symptoms of an egg allergy is hives, which can cause the skin to become itchy, red, and swollen.

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It may also cause a range of digestive issues, including vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain.

While some people with an allergy to hen’s eggs may be able to enjoy other types of eggs, including duck, goose, or quail eggs, others may need to avoid eggs altogether.

For this reason, if you have an egg allergy, it’s important to speak with your healthcare provider before including other types of eggs in your diet to prevent negative symptoms.

Summary: An allergy to hen’s eggs could cause hives and digestive issues.

7. Tree nuts

The term “tree nuts” refers to any nut that grows on trees, including almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, and Brazil nuts.

Tree nut allergies are very common, affecting an estimated 4.9% of the worldwide population.

Allergic reactions are caused by the presence of specific proteins in tree nuts, including oleosins, legumin, vicilins, and 2S albumins.

Some of the symptoms caused by an allergic reaction to tree nuts include itchiness, tingling, skin redness, and swelling of the mouth.

Other conditions like asthma, eczema and hay fever may be associated with more severe reactions to tree nuts.

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Oftentimes, people with a tree nut allergy may only experience an allergic reaction to certain types of tree nuts. However, because of the risk of cross-contamination in food production, it’s often recommended to avoid tree nuts altogether if you have an allergy.

Summary: Tree nut allergies can cause itchiness, tingling, skin redness, and swelling of the mouth.

8. Fish

Fish allergies are caused by an allergic reaction to finned fish such as tuna, salmon, catfish, and cod.

This is typically caused by specific proteins found in fish, including parvalbumins.

Among those with a fish allergy, exposure to these proteins can cause symptoms like hives, itching, stomach pain, and congestion.

Some people may be allergic to specific types of fish but not others.

Still, those with a fish allergy are usually advised to avoid all fish and fish products due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Summary: Among those with a fish allergy, exposure to specific proteins found in finned fish can cause hives, itching, stomach pain, and congestion.

Summary

Several foods can cause itching as an allergic reaction.

In most cases, this is caused by specific proteins found in food, which the immune system identifies as harmful and produces antibodies to fight against.

If you experience itching or other symptoms and suspect you may have a food allergy, speak with your healthcare provider immediately to determine the best course of treatment.

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