There has never been a recorded incident of a person having an allergy to Vitamin C. In fact, ascorbic acid, as the vitamin is also known, is a very simple chemical substance that is extremely well accepted by the human body.
Still, a lot of people find that they develop skin rashes after eating certain fruits. A common cause of this would be the chemicals and fertilizers that are used in the process of growing the fruits. It is a good habit to always wash any fruits before eating them and to try and stick to organic, pesticide-free fruits.
People who are prone to developing seasonal allergies, like that to pollen, are also more prone to developing rashes after eating certain fruits. Your immune system can get triggered off by much the same mechanisms that result in exposure to pollen and cause skin rashes, a runny nose, watering of the eyes, redness and itching.
The question to be asked here is: "Why would fruits be mistaken for pollen by the immune system?"
The answer to that lies in the presence of certain proteins that are commonly found in pollen and fruits. These proteins, or profilins, are said to be responsible for over a third of all allergic reactions to fruits. Melons, watermelons, citrus fruits and bananas are rich in profilins and thus people with seasonal allergies may find it difficult to eat these fruits.
Getting An Allergy Test
After an initial clinical history by the general practitioner, it is likely that you will be referred to an allergy specialist for confirmation of the diagnosis. It should be remembered that tests for allergies can be quite non-specific and circling down the potential choices can be time consuming.
Keeping a food diary can be a very helpful self-diagnostic record that a person can do since it will help correlate the symptoms with exactly what is eaten.
Management Of Fruit Allergies
Like other allergies, fruit allergies are also managed in much the same manner. The first course of action is to avoid exposure to the potential allergens. In case the offending cause has been identified to be profilins, all possible foods containing it should be avoided.
A dietitian may be needed to help chalk out the foods that should be avoided. There is also something called Oral Allergy syndrome in which a localized reaction to fruits is seen inside the oral cavity. Blisters, numbness, and a burning sensation are some of the symptoms that have been reported with this condition.
Interestingly, these profilins are quite simple proteins which are denatured quite quickly when heated. Thus, cooked fruits cause no reaction whatsoever.
Commonly, the rashes and other skin conditions resolve on their own within a few days of avoiding exposure, however in some cases, a course of antihistamine medication may be necessary. Rare cases of anaphylaxis can also occur which require emergency medical attention and hospitalization.
Patients should keep an autoinjector of epinephrine handy so they can use it as advised to avoid life-threatening complications.
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