July 28, 2014
Nicole Davis, FNP – BreatheAmerica El Paso Summer usually means longer warmer days, outdoor activities, and for some people–allergies. The predominant pollen in the summer is grass. Grass is unique since it’s the only pollen that our skin frequently has direct contact with. Direct contact with grass can lead to a number of skin problems including itching, atopic dermatitis, and hives. Taking an antihistamine, showering, and changing clothes after direct contact with grass is very effective in alleviating most of these skin issues and will not put a damper on those fun summer events.
Summer and grass have another thing in common- an increase in Oral Allergy Syndrome. As we increase our intake of fresh fruits and veggies at those fun summer picnics and barbecues, those of us with grass allergy may notice an itchy sensation in our lips and tongue. This is due to a cross reactivity between proteins in fresh fruits and vegetables and grass pollen. Basically, the body recognizes that piece of fresh fruit or vegetable as a big chunk of pollen and directs an allergic response to it. Fortunately the itchy sensation usually only lasts for a few seconds and the symptoms usually do not progress beyond the mouth. The most common fruits and vegetables that cross react with grass include fresh peaches, celery, melon, oranges, and tomatoes. Most people with oral allergy syndrome will find that the cooked form of these foods will not cause any symptoms, since heating the food changes the protein structure and the body will not recognize it as an allergen/pollen. Although it can occur, anaphylaxis from oral allergy syndrome is very rare.
However, if you or your child experience a reaction beyond the mouth area after eating a fresh fruit or raw vegetable, this could signify a risk for anaphylaxis so be sure to make an appointment at BreatheAmerica to discuss further testing or the possible need to carry an Epi-Pen.