Allergic to Touch, but Not to Eat?

Updated on January 03, 2016
R.R. asks from Burleson, TX
14 answers

Is it possible to have an allergy to touch something, but not eat it? I've noticed that when I handle raw shrimp, I break out and itch, but eating it after cooking doesn't bother me in the least. Last night, I peeled shrimp, and my fingers swelled a little, got red and very itchy, I inadvertantly touched my eye, which swelled up and turned really red. It all subsided after about an hour. I cooked and ate the shrimp and it doesn't bother me. No sickness, no itchy, swelled tongue or throat. I've noticed this in the past, too. So - I'm just curious if it is possible to not be able to touch something, but eating is fine?

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answers from Dallas on

Allergies can be a funny thing. This may be an early warning sign that a shellfish allergy, a more serious one, is forth-coming. The more you come in contact with shellfish, either by touch or ingestion, it can ramp up the reaction. The reaction may not be as gradual as it has been in the past either. One day you could just have itchy fingers, the next you won't be able to breathe. I would definitely get a test done to be absolutely certain.

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answers from Dallas on

I recommend going to an allergist and getting tested. My daughter ate peanut butter without any issues and then on a future ingestion broke out in hives and couldn't breathe. She went into an anaphylactic shock. My experience with her allergies in the past six years is that each exposure to the allergen can cause a different reaction. A mild reaction this time could be a deadly reaction the next time. I would make sure you have access to an epi-pen if you are going to continue to eat shellfish and let others know of the possible reaction so they know what to do if you are unable to speak/help yourself. An allergist should be able to give you guidance and a prescription for an epi-pen if he/she thinks you need it.

P.S. I have a friend who ate peanuts all her life without any issues, and now, at age 47, she's suddenly allergic and carries an epi-pen.



answers from Dallas on

I agree with Jennifer, I'd watch it because allergies generally worsen as you're exposed to them more and more. So you may not have had a reaction when you ate it this time but there's nothing to say you can't or won't the next time.
The exposure issue is part of the reason they generally don't test kids until they're two or three unless there are severe issues.


answers from Richmond on

I hate tomatoes... but I think it's because I'm allergic to them. I don't eat them, haven't in YEARS, but like you, if I'm handling them, cutting them up for everybody else, I get hives up to my elbows and across my chest. I think that this is probably why I stopped eating them!


answers from Tulsa on

I found this thread searching for info for my 17 y/o daughter. She recently started working at Domino's, and has discovered that when cornmeal touches her skin, she breaks out in a horrible rash. She can eat corn products, including cornbread, but apparently can't touch it. I've never heard of this sort of thing before, and I am allergic to a lot of things now myself. Anyway, I gave her some hydrocortisone cream & told her to use gloves.



answers from Boston on

Yes - one of my kids has an "oral" allergy to certain uncooked foods (green beans, strawberries, watermelon, apples and other produce) but when they're cooked he's fine. For him it's because those foods are in the same family as a pollen that he's allergic too. His throat gets itchy and his tongue feels fuzzy when he eats these but it's not a food allergy. So yes, food can affect people in different ways (contact vs. ingestion, cooked vs. raw etc.).



answers from Denver on

I have the same allergy. When I clean and peel raw shrimp, my hands get itchy. I've had this condition for at least 20 years but it has never gotten any worse. I'm 53 years old and have had well controlled eczema on my hands and finger since I was an adolescent. I've controlled the very occasional outbreak (usually caused by dish washing) with a topical steroid (Lydex generic), the same one I've been using for over 30 years. I continue to enjoy shrimp for special occasions and wear gloves when cleaning and peeling them if I have the available, otherwise I just endure the itching for a little while. Small price to pay for shrimp!!!



answers from Topeka on

I agree...tomatoes vines are my nemesis...makes me all itchy and red..but I can eat tomatoes without any problem at all what so ever.



answers from Philadelphia on

yes. i think you can touch something and it can irritate your skin or give a minor allergy, but not bother you when you eat it. sometimes my hands get the same way when i have to peel shrimp or when I cut up a fresh pineapple. My dad can eat oranges but can not peel them as he is allergic to the oils in the skin.



answers from Milwaukee on

Good thing your throat didn't swell up. I would have been afraid to eat the shrimp after those reactions.


Good thing your throat didn't swell up. I would have been afraid to eat the shrimp after those reactions.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Sometimes I wonder because my daughter has never drunk a glass of milk because when it was spilled on her she welted. I often wonder if the skin is more sensitive than the gut, but I am not going to take that chance.

Another possibility to explain your reaction might be that the shrimp was cooked. Sometimes when something is cooked it changes the properties.



answers from Washington DC on

My daughter can have peanuts but not peanut butter. She breaks out with rice, apricots, rosemary, the list is very long, but she does not pop positive on the allergy tests, except for spinach. She loves spinach and I didn't know that was one of her allergies until two weeks ago, she's 13.

Our allergist suggested that she have a child's Claritin every day to counteract any sensitivities.



answers from Dallas on

If my mom touches peach fuzz or eats it she breaks out, but she can have peeled peaches. This is such an interesting thread! Aren't our bodies weird/amazing/interesting?!?




answers from Daytona Beach on

my daughter is like that with ranch dressing. she can eat it and be fine, but all around her mouth gets red and irritated looking.

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