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Overview

Potato allergies are not a common occurrence but the body's immune system may perceive the alkaloids, proteins, and other substances in this food as foreign invaders and produce an immune response resulting in an allergic reaction. This can happen with both raw and cooked potato intake, or even when touching the food.

The allergic response includes the body producing antibodies and histamines to fight off the mentioned compounds and these can cause the following signs and symptoms:

  • Swollen, watery and/or itchy eyes.
  • Sneezing.
  • Mucous discharge from the nasal passages resulting in a runny nose.
  • An eczema-like rash or itching of the skin.
  • Hives.
  • A tingling sensation of the lips.
  • Swelling of the tongue, mouth, and/or throat.
  • Vomiting.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Wheezing.
  • Diarrhea.
A severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may even occur which causes the blood pressure to drop as well as result in severe shortness of breath due to airway constriction. This is regarded as a medical emergency and immediate treatment should be sought for the affected individual.

What other foods can cause issues?

The potato is a member of the nightshade plant family so an individual allergic to potatoes may also be allergic to the following plants and vegetables:

  • Tomato.
  • Eggplant/aubergine.
  • Peppers such as pimientos, bell peppers, and chilies.
  • Goji berries.
  • Tomatillos.
  • Spices such as paprika, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  • Tobacco products.

Other products and foods that a person with a potato allergy may have an allergic reaction to include birch pollen, latex, and grass pollen.

Food with potato hidden in them

An important issue to be aware of is that people with potato allergies need to start reading the contents of foods and product as they may contain potato in them for various reasons.

These products include:

  • Pre-packaged food containing potato flour instead of wheat flour.
  • Cooked and dried potato is sometimes used as a thickening agent in packaged and processed foods such as stews or soups.
  • Shredded cheese may contain potato starch to help prevent the product from clinging to itself.
  • Some sweets and candies may contain modified potato starch in them.
  • Numerous kinds of vodkas are made from potato so this alcoholic drink should also be avoided.
  • Some natural and herbal medicines that are used to soothe upset stomachs and topical agents used to manage inflamed skin may also contain potato in them so the ingredient list needs to be checked to avoid developing an allergic reaction.

Can potatoes be substituted?

Potatoes can be substituted with various other healthy vegetables to avoid developing problems when touching or ingesting the former.

Avocados and yucca can be used to make French fries and cauliflower can be used to make"mashed potatoes".

Managing allergies

Potato exposure causing an allergic reaction of the skin can be managed by washing the hands thoroughly to remove any of the potato products on the affected area. If the skin symptoms are still persistent, an over-the-counter antihistamine or steroid cream can be applied to the affected area to help reduce the inflammation. 

The other mentioned signs and symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter oral antihistamines and if this doesn't help then one will have to consult with their doctor for further management.

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