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It might not be as common as an allergy to peanuts or shellfish, but you can be allergic to avocados.

In fact, you can be allergic to avocados in not just one, but two ways: you might have an oral allergy to avocados, or you might have a latex allergy.

An oral avocado allergy is triggered when you eat avocado and your body treats the food as an invader, alerting your immune system. Your body reacts with mild to severe allergy symptoms, such as itching of your lips, mouth, and throat.

You could have an oral avocado allergy if you’re also allergic to birch pollen.

You’re much more likely to react to avocados if you also are allergic to latex (and vice versa). Latex and avocado allergies are an example of cross-reactivity, which means that the proteins they contain are similar.

People allergic to latex may also be sensitive to:

However, if you’re allergic to latex and have a reaction to one of these foods, you could be reacting to the latex in the gloves of a food preparer, not the food itself.

Symptoms of latex-avocado allergy include:

You also could have systemic reactions (such as hives) and an anaphylactic response (such as swelling of the airways and difficulty breathing).

A reaction this serious is very rare from an avocado allergy. If it happens, call 911 or your local emergency services.

If you’ve been handling avocados and you feel symptoms of an allergic reaction on your skin, it’s possible that the pesticides and other crop chemicals on the surface of the avocado are what’s bothering you.

It might help to wash the avocado with a food-safe wash designed to remove chemicals. Choosing organic avocados, which haven’t been exposed to chemicals, can also prevent this reaction.

There isn’t a skin test for avocado allergy, but you might want to get a skin test for latex allergy.

If your symptoms aren’t serious, an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine might make you feel more comfortable. If your skin is irritated, OTC cortisone cream may help.

However, the best way to avoid triggering an allergic reaction to avocados is to simply avoid them.

Buy now: Shop for OTC antihistamines and cortisone creams.

Avocados don’t just limit themselves to guacamole and California rolls. You can find them in all sorts of unexpected places. This can include dishes where avocados might not seem like a likely ingredient. For example:

  • Vegan and paleo recipes sometimes use avocado to add creaminess, since those diets avoid dairy products.
  • It’s even used as a substitute for butter or other fats in some recipes.
  • In baked goods, avocado is said to provide a fluffy texture. It’s even used in some chocolate chip cookie and brownie recipes.

Some cosmetics such as lotions and shampoos use avocado, since its high level of fat adds to the moisturizing qualities of these products. A reaction to avocado used in cosmetics is unlikely, but if you experience an allergic reaction, check the ingredient list for avocados.

If you’re an avocado aficionado and are disappointed to find yourself allergic, there are plenty of substitutes.

The most commonly recommended substitution is cooked (and cooled) chayote squash. Chayote squash doesn’t have much flavor, so it mixes well with garlic, tomatoes, onion, and lime to make a delicious quasi-guacamole.

If it’s the creamy green look you’re after, try pureeing green peas for spreads or another fresh take on guacamole. Cooked, pureed asparagus and broccoli are similar substitutes, but they do have a much stronger flavor.

To substitute for avocado’s salty taste in salads or sandwiches, try marinated, sliced hearts of palm or artichoke hearts.

Buy now: Shop for hearts of palm and artichoke hearts.

If you suspect that you’re allergic to avocados, see your doctor for allergy testing.

Allergy testing may reveal that you’re allergic to latex as well. You could also discover that you don’t have an actual avocado allergy but are instead reacting to crop chemicals used in conventional, or non-organic, versions of the fruit.

If your doctor confirms that you have an avocado allergy, you’ll have to be diligent about avoiding them. As a versatile food with a creamy texture, avocado may be “hiding” in your favorite dishes and desserts.

Avocado allergies are rarely severe, however. If you do accidentally eat the fruit, you’ll likely be able to manage your symptoms with OTC oral medications or creams.