Spice allergy

The spice is any part of a particular plant that is utilized for flavoring or seasoning food. The spices might be acquired from the leaves, bark, roots, seeds, buds, fruit or other part of the plant. Unlike with spices, an herb is typically acquired from the leafy part of the plant and utilized to season or flavor foods. Just like with other foods, spice allergy is possible.

Even though spice allergy is uncommon, it is considered under-diagnosed. Several species have biological functions that enhance their ability to result in sensitization. An example is capsaicin which enhances intestinal absorption, possibly resulting to increased rates of sensitization.

Exposure to spices can occur in various ways, typically as a result of eating foods that contain spices. Nevertheless, exposure can also occur via contact with the skin such as handling foods and from cosmetics that might contain spices. Exposure can also occur through inhalation of airborne spices from occupational exposure.

What are the symptoms of spice allergy?

Spice allergy

Contact of the skin with spices can result to atopic dermatitis, urticaria and even allergic contact dermatitis at the site of skin contact.

If you can recall, cartoon characters in the past end up sneezing after exposed to black pepper. Most individuals experienced during one time or another, the symptoms of watery eyes and runny nose after eating spicy foods such as chili pepper or horseradish.

These symptoms are not triggered by the immune system, but from irritants that affects the mucous membranes. Skin rashes can also occur as a result of irritant contact dermatitis from direct skin exposure to spices present in cosmetics or foods.

A true allergic reaction can also occur as a result of eating spices, skin contact or inhalation. The allergic symptoms after eating spices typically include urticaria and angioedema, but also gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms and even anaphylaxis. When spices are inhaled, it can result to symptoms of asthma as well as swelling of the airway. Contact of the skin with spices can result to atopic dermatitis, urticaria and even allergic contact dermatitis at the site of skin contact.

Diagnosing spice allergy

The diagnosis of spice allergy is suggested by symptoms that the individual experiences upon exposure to the spice. It is possible to perform allergy testing to various spices either with allergen extracts or simply creating a homemade extracts with a fresh spice.

The hot spices such as cayenne pepper cannot be used for skin testing due to its irritant effect. Blood testing for the existence of allergenic antibodies to spices are available but limited. In addition, patch testing to spices can be carried out to diagnose contact dermatitis to spices.

Treatment of spice allergy

The treatment of spice allergy typically involves avoidance of the spice. The management of the immediate symptoms is similar to the management of food allergy, including antihistamines as well as injectable epinephrine in case of severe reactions.

As for contact dermatitis, the treatment includes the use of topical corticosteroids or even systemic corticosteroids for the severe symptoms.


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