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Includes Expert Content
Has anyone heard of an allery to watermelon?
lilysand2 posted:
Their is so much irony in what happened to me yesterday, I was sitting on my porch eating a great big watermelon, enjoying the summer night and all of a sudden within hours my face became, well watermelon colored and puffy- is this normal?- what should I do next? I've never had a allergic reaction before....
Michael H Land, MD responded:
Hi Lilysand2,

It is possible that you might have a kind of allergy called Oral Allergy Syndrome or Pollen-Food Allergy Syndrome. Typically these symptoms occur fairly immediately after you eat some fresh or raw fruits and can cause itching in the mouth and throat, but if you get some on your lips or face (as could happen with a nice big juicy piece of watermelon during the summer), you might get some hives or swelling on the face where the juice touched your skin.

The reason this can occur is that people first have an allergy to a plant pollens--from something like ragweed, birch tree, or mugwort weed, and their immune system believes that some other plant based foods (like fruits or vegetables) are that pollen. Many plants share common proteins that "look alike" to the immune system and when you eat some of these fruits (if you already have pollen allergies), your body thinks you're eating the pollen essentially. If fruits or vegetables that cause symptoms are cooked (heated up, baked, etc.), the heat will alter these proteins and the body typically doesn't react to it.

Here is a nice WebMD video about this problem: HERE

I would suggest that you have a more comprehensive evaluation with a Board Certified Allergist who can evaluate these symptoms and decide if you are at risk for a more severe reaction.

If your symptoms occurred hours later, it might be something else not related to the food. The timing does matter (it really should have been fairly quickly after you ate it rather than hours later) and I'd make sure to bring this up with your doctor.

Hope this helps!

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