Strawberry Plant Allergies: What Causes A Rash From Picking Strawberries

Gardener With Gloves Cutting Strawberries From The Bush
strawberry allergy
(Image credit: lzf)

Allergies are nothing to fool with. They can range from simple intolerances to full blown “get the epi pen and get me to the hospital” reactions. Strawberry allergies usually fall into the latter category and can be quite dangerous. It's important to note what the symptoms of strawberry allergies are and which of your friends and family are allergic to strawberries. A little foreknowledge can help protect sensitive individuals and keep you from panicking if someone has a reaction.

Symptoms of Strawberry Allergies

Food allergies are an immune reaction from the body to a usually harmless substance or food. Most allergies are not life threatening but acute sensitivity can cause anaphylactic shock, a serious condition that requires medical attention. Symptoms generally come from ingesting the offensive food but can also show up just from handling. This may occur if you get a rash from picking strawberries. Strawberry plant allergies are serious and should be taken seriously. If you or someone you know is allergic to strawberries, know the signs and symptoms and when it’s time to rush to the doctors. Strawberry plant allergies usually manifest as hives, itching, swelling, wheezing, possibly a rash, and occasionally nausea. In many individuals, an over-the-counter antihistamine is sufficient to quell the symptoms. These block the histamine the body is manufacturing at a high rate to counter the compounds in the strawberry that the body feels are dangerous. In very severe cases, anaphylactic shock can occur. This appears as difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat and tongue, rapid pulse, and dizziness, or even unconsciousness. That is where the epi pen comes in. An epinephrine shot prevents anaphylactic shock and is commonly carried by severe allergy sufferers.

Rash from Picking Strawberries

These symptoms are all very troubling and even dangerous, but some strawberry lovers end up with other milder effects from the berries. These symptoms may be very mild and include contact dermatitis and urticaria. The contact dermatitis will cause a rash and may be photosensitive, which means sunlight will make it worse. It happens when strawberry leaves cause itching after contact. Urticaria is simply hives and can be cleared with a steroid cream or wash the area thoroughly and it will generally clear in a few hours. If you have any of these effects, you can still probably eat the berries, but you get a rash from picking strawberries. Use gloves and a long-sleeved shirt to prevent any future issues. Strawberry leaves cause itching in many individuals and are a common irritant but not really dangerous.

Protecting Against Strawberry Plant Allergies

If you have an allergy, you'll become an avid label reader. Even if an item does not list your allergen in the ingredients, it's no guarantee the food wasn’t processed in a plant that does use that food. This could result in cross contamination, and, in sensitive individuals, this is as good as eating the item. The best option is to make your own foods whenever possible and always ask about the contents of a dish if you do eat outside. Serious allergy patients know to carry epi pens or some form of antihistamine.

Bonnie L. Grant

Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.