Coconut Allergy

pdfASCIA PCC Coconut allergy 201960.57 KB

Allergic reactions to eating coconut are relatively rare, whilst contact allergic dermatitis to coconut products is more common. Sensitisation to coconut pollen has been reported.

Coconut is a useful food

The coconut palm tree is a native of the tropics. The fruit (seed) of the palm is known as the coconut. The coconut has great economic value, as the outer fibrous husk can be used to make ropes and mats, the white inner flesh can be eaten, and the milk can be drunk. Coconut derived products are also added to:

  • Many foods including cakes, chocolates and sweets.
  • Some infant formulae.
  • Cosmetics, hair shampoos, moisturisers, soaps, cleansers and hand wash.

Allergies occur to peanut, tree nuts and coconut

Allergic reactions to peanut and tree nuts are relatively common. In contrast, allergic reactions to coconut are relatively rare. Few cases of allergic reactions from eating coconut products have been reported, including one case of severe stomach upset in a baby fed infant formula containing coconut. The other cases reported have been those of serious allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). Of these cases, some have been found to be allergic to tree nuts like walnut and hazelnut, as well as coconut. Allergic responses have been found to similar proteins present in both types of foods, a concept known as cross-reactivity. Other cases have only been allergic to coconut.

Coconut allergy is relatively rare

Coconut is a very different plant from peanut or tree nuts. The presence of the letters "nut" does not mean that coconut will trigger an allergic reaction in people allergic to peanut or tree nuts. Allergies to peanut and tree nuts are relatively common compared to allergies to coconut which are very rare. This suggests that the risk of coconut allergy in a person known to be allergic to peanut or tree nuts is very low. Therefore allergy testing to coconut is not considered as routine.

Contact dermatitis to coconut

Coconut-derived products (such as coconut diethanolamide, cocamide sulfate, cocamide DEA, and  CDEA), can cause contact allergic dermatitis. These can be present in cosmetics, hair shampoos, moisturisers, soaps, cleansers and hand wash. As with any contact dermatitis, an itchy blistering rash may arise a day or two after contact with the allergen, and take several days to resolve. If contact dermatitis to coconut products is suspected, then patch testing is an appropriate method for diagnosis.

 

© ASCIA 2019

ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand.

ASCIA resources are based on published literature and expert review, however, they are not intended to replace medical advice. The content of ASCIA resources is not influenced by any commercial organisations.

For more information go to www.allergy.org.au

To donate to immunology/allergy research go to www.allergyimmunology.org.au/donate

Updated May 2019

Mod ASCIA Member
Donate to AIFA
go to NAS website
Member Login
ASCIA Update

Information for the community about allergic diseases, immunodeficiencies and other immune diseases.
See latest edition here...
Join our mailing list:

About ASCIA

ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology and allergy in Australia and New Zealand
ASCIA promotes and advances the study and knowledge of allergy and other immune diseases

Quick Links

About ASCIA

ASCIA is a registered trademark of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. All content is subject to copyright for the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy. Read more...

The content for the website is developed and approved by ASCIA Committee and ASCIA Working Party Members. Read more...

Disclaimer I Privacy

The ASCIA website is intended for use by ASCIA members, health professionals and the general public. The content provided is for education, communication and information purposes only and is not intended to replace or constitute medical advice or treatments. Read more...

ASCIA respects your privacy. Read our privacy policy here...

Sponsors | Advertising

ASCIA does not endorse products from sponsoring organisations, nor is it influenced by sponsoring organisations with regard to the content of education programs and websites. 

The ASCIA website does not accept advertising. Any link to a third-party website does not imply any endorsement by ASCIA.

Accreditiation

healthdirect

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.