Allergies to Cucumbers

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Cross-reactivity is a condition in which allergies associated with plant pollens are mimicked by fruits and vegetables that share a similar protein structure. Immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) bind to fruit and vegetable proteins, such as cucumber, confusing them with pollen intolerances, causing reactions.

A crate of fresh-picked cucumbers.
A crate of fresh-picked cucumbers.

Function

Ragweed allergies are associated with gourds such as watermelon, cantaloupe, zucchini and cucumbers. Allergic reactions to cucumbers and other gourds typically occur when consuming the food raw versus cooked.

Melon, zucchini, squash, and gourds on an outdoor table.
Melon, zucchini, squash, and gourds on an outdoor table.

Symptoms

Ragweed season occurs during August and September. People with ragweed and gourd allergies experience hay fever symptoms of runny nose, sneezing, coughing and itchy and watery eyes.

A woman blows her nose outside.
A woman blows her nose outside.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Cucumber allergies may cause oral allergy syndrome (OAS), with itching, swelling and tingling in the mouth, lips and throat upon consumption. Touching raw cucumbers may cause a rash in sensitized individuals.

Fresh cucumbers in hand.
Fresh cucumbers in hand.

Severe Reactions

Severe cucumber allergies cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, wheezing and anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction resulting from the throat and airways swelling and is treated with an epinephrine (EpiPen) shot.

A close-up of EpiPen needles.
A close-up of EpiPen needles.

Prevention/Solution

Eliminating cucumber from a diet is effective in reducing allergic reactions. Allergy symptoms are treated through topical antihistamine ointments applied to affected skin and oral antihistamines that reduce inflammation.

A close-up of an open handbag in the grass containing allergy pills.
A close-up of an open handbag in the grass containing allergy pills.

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