An allergic reaction to coconut, which can occur when susceptible people eat foods containing coconut or use products containing its oil on their skin, can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. Signs of a reaction often occur on the skin, in the form of swelling, itching, and even hives or blisters. Some people may develop respiratory symptoms, including congestion, coughing, or wheezing. Others may have trouble with their digestive systems, including abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea. In very rare cases, a severe reaction may occur that can include swelling in the mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, and anaphylactic shock.
Skin issues are frequently a sign of an allergic reaction to coconut, and can be the result of ingestion or from contact with lotions, creams, or shampoos containing coconut oil. If the coconut is eaten, the allergic person may notice tingling or itching in the mouth, throat, or on the tongue, though the reaction may be more systemic and cause itching, eczema, or hives on other parts of the body as well. When the reaction is the result of external application of coconut oil, the person will typically develop contact dermatitis on the skin where it was applied; he or she may find that the skin there becomes red, inflamed, and itchy, and often a rash or blisters will develop.
Respiratory symptoms are another common sign of an allergic reaction to coconut. Sneezing, congestion, and a runny nose may result when allergic people eat coconut, and they may also develop a headache due to sinus pressure. They may also experience tightness in the chest, coughing, and shortness of breath.
People who have an allergic reaction to coconut sometimes experience digestive problems. They may have abdominal discomfort or pain. Some may feel nauseated or even vomit, while others may have diarrhea while the coconut is in their system.
While an allergic reaction to coconut is fairly rare, and a severe reaction is even more unlikely, it is possible for one to occur. People who are extremely allergic may find their tongue, mouth, or throat swelling. They can have chest pain and breathing may become difficult. A severe, extremely itchy rash or hives may develop over much of the body. Anyone who experiences these types of symptoms should seek medical attention immediately, as they could indicate the onset of anaphylactic shock, a potentially fatal condition.