An allergic reaction to pineapple can be triggered by eating a small amount of the fruit or drinking pineapple juice. You may even have an allergic reaction from touching pineapple.

Common food allergies include:

  • nuts
  • wheat
  • dairy products
  • fish
  • eggs

Allergic reactions to fruits, including pineapple, are less common than allergies to other foods, but they can be serious when they occur.

Symptoms

You may have the symptoms of a pineapple allergy immediately after being exposed to the fruit, or it could take up to several hours for your first symptoms to appear. Intense itching and hives are often the first symptoms of an allergic reaction. Hives may show up in one place or multiple places on your body.

You may also have digestive symptoms, including stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. These digestive symptoms are your body’s way of trying to rid itself of the allergen.

In addition to digestive symptoms, pineapple allergy symptoms can include:

  • swelling of the face, tongue, throat, and lips
  • difficulty breathing
  • flushing of the face
  • intense itching or hives
  • constipation
  • sinus congestion
  • a metallic taste in the mouth
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • anaphylactic shock

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Seek immediate medical help if you have difficulty breathing or think you may be going into anaphylactic shock. In one study from 1993, 20 out of 32 people who tested positive for pineapple allergy went into anaphylactic shock after eating the fruit.

Risk factors

You’re at an increased risk for a pineapple allergy if a close relative is allergic to pineapple. Close relatives include parents, siblings, and grandparents. This is an especially important consideration when introducing new foods to babies. Your baby is more likely to have an allergic reaction to a food if you, their other parent, or a sibling has an allergy to that food.

Read more: Kids and food allergies: What to look for »

Fruits, such as pineapple, can contain allergens found in other foods or substances. If you’re allergic to pineapple, you may also have an allergy to natural rubber latex, and may experience allergic symptoms when you’re exposed to items made from it. Things made from natural rubber latex include:

  • hospital gloves
  • adhesive bandages
  • sanitary napkins
  • crutches
  • blood-pressure monitoring cuffs
  • condoms
  • rubber-grip utensils
  • rubber toys
  • toothbrushes

People who are allergic to pineapple may also be allergic to birch tree pollen or bananas.

Complications

The most serious complication from a pineapple allergy is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. You should seek immediate medical help if you think you’re having anaphylaxis. The symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • wheezing
  • a rapid heartbeat
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling of the tongue, lips, or throat
  • a loss of consciousness
  • going blue around the mouth, lips, or the tips of the fingers or toes

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and requires immediate treatment. If you’ve experienced anaphylaxis before, your doctor has likely prescribed an EpiPen. This is an auto-injected dose of epinephrine, which is a fast-acting type of adrenalin. It’s used to relieve severe immune system reactions to allergens. You should see your doctor as soon as possible after the use of an EpiPen, even if your symptoms are significantly reduced or eliminated completely.

Foods to avoid

If you have a pineapple allergy, you should avoid both canned and fresh pineapple. You also shouldn’t drink pineapple juice if you’re allergic to pineapple.

In addition to these obvious must-nots, pineapple may lurk in other foods. Read food labels carefully to make sure pineapple isn’t an ingredient. Some products that may include pineapple include:

  • canned fruit salad or cocktail
  • pineapple salsa
  • pineapple rum
  • pineapple jam
  • fruitcake
  • banana bread
  • pineapple soda or soft drinks
  • tropical fruit punch
  • tropical alcoholic beverages, such as margaritas and piña coladas
  • fruit candies

When you eat out at restaurants, let your server know that you have a pineapple allergy. This will help you avoid accidental exposure to the fruit.

Learn more: What you should know about food allergy cards »

Pineapple enzyme may also be an ingredient in skin care products, such as soap and face cream. You should always check the ingredient list and not use the product if you have any doubt about what’s in it.

When to see your doctor

If you suspect you’re allergic to pineapple, talk to your doctor. They may recommend taking an over-the-counter antihistamine tablet to alleviate your symptoms, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). If you’ve experienced anaphylaxis, your doctor will prescribe an EpiPen that you can use if you have symptoms of an allergic reaction.

If your symptoms don’t improve or if they worsen, treat the situation as a medical emergency. Call your local emergency services or have someone drive you to the nearest hospital.

Outlook

Food allergies can occur for the first time at any point during a person’s life. In the United States, 8 percent of children and around 4 percent of adults have a food allergy. You may outgrow your pineapple allergy if you developed it as a child, or it may appear at any time during your life.

Your doctor may confirm a pineapple allergy through a blood or skin test, but explaining to your doctor what happened is the most important part of finding out if you have a food allergy. Your doctor may recommend that you avoid pineapple completely, and they might also prescribe antihistamines or an EpiPen as a precaution. Unless your doctors indicate otherwise, avoid pineapple and any product which may contain the fruit. If you eliminate your exposure to the fruit, you won’t experience any symptoms.

Food substitutes

Pineapple may be refreshing and high in vitamin C, but so are many other fruits. Delicious substitutes for pineapple include:

  • apples
  • apple sauce
  • pears
  • grapes

You can also use apple juice instead of pineapple juice in many tropical concoctions. If you want to add sweetness to either baked products or snacks, raisins, dates, and dried cranberries are good substitutes.