Chili Pepper Allergy Symptoms and Treatment

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Capsaicinoids are the chemicals present in chili pepper which provide the intensity and nutritional benefits. But in people who have complaints of chili pepper allergy, the immune system treats these chemicals as threat to the body. An antibody IgE is released which tries to find and destroy them.

If a person is allergic to peppers than he might be allergic to both hot and bell pepper both. It is consumed as whole, paste, flakes or in powder form.

Symptoms of this allergy are external manifestations of the chemical reactions which takes place inside the body between capsaicinoids of chili pepper and IgE of the immune system.

Chili Pepper Allergy Symptoms

Gastrointestinal Problems – Gastrointestinal symptoms might occur due to consumption of chili pepper or exposure to it. Due to it a person might have a feeling of nausea or vomiting. In worst cases one might get diarrhea too. Stomach pain could also occur which could be either light or in rare cases severe.

Rashes – Mild to severe rashes which also itch might arise due to this allergy around mouth in most cases or whole body. Dermatitis or rash might also occur on point of touch with the pepper. Remember not to scratch other parts of the body as it could spread too.

Other Symptoms

  • Constipation
  • Runny nose
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Redness around the lips
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Lip swelling
  • Throat swelling
  • Tongue swelling
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Breathing problems
  • Asthma
  • Facial swelling
  • Red eyes
  • Itchy eyes
  • Sore eyes
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Eczema
  • Low blood pressure
  • Skin flushing
  • Hoarseness
  • Tingling mouth
  • Headache
  • Facial redness

The blood tests like RAST and skin patch test can be carried out to identify the chemical which is responsible for this condition. The severity can also be assessed based on which the commencement of treatment is planned.

Chili Pepper Allergy Treatment

Food allergies have no cure as of now. Awareness about the condition, maintaining a list of food products containing the main food and avoiding them are the simple and effective ways of prevention.

While mild symptoms require no treatment per se, moderate severity signs can require antihistamines drugs, eye drops and nasal sprays to deal with. Some people may suffer from the severe form of this allergy called as anaphylaxis.

It is a medical emergency requiring immediate hospitalization of the patient with medical attention available as early as possible. The allergy quickly spreads all over the body and starts affecting the functions of the major organs. Epi-pen is an injection which can be given to the patient in this condition so that the time for hospitalization can be obtained.

It is better to know some of the important Chili Pepper allergy symptoms so as to diagnose it early and prevent it from occurring in future.

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24 Comments

  1. Capsaicin Intolerance, Has caused me severe ( Migraine ) type headaches with light sensitivity and stiff / sore neck. I have been treated for migraines for years till I found that it was caused by red peppers in its many forms. We are quick to accept what we are told by the medical establishment, but none of the normal migraine protocols would work for me. There is a time delay between what we eat and when the pain would hit, so I set up an experiment on myself and ate a meal with 2 heaping table spoons of red pepper flakes in it. Approximately 3.5 hours later I had my answer with the worse headache that I have ever had, it hit the left side of my head behind my eye and not able to see, I had to be helped back into the house. After recovering and eliminating Capsaicin from my diet I am doing allot better. It is only been a few days, but I wanted to let others know if it helps stop the suffering of one person, it is worth it!!

    • I have the same problem!! It started after I had my first child and it has gotten progressively worse. I was treated for migraines as well. The Only thing that would help my headaches was benedryl. But, like you mentioned, sometimes it would be hours after I ate so it was hard to pinpoint. It almost always happens instantly now though and I’ve had to use the epi-pen 3 times in the last 8 years. It’s so discouraging. It’s in SO many things -Cheese Its, Miracle Whip, mayonnaise, pickles, mustards. I now seem to have issues with tomatoes and red wine. Maybe it’s just a re allergy! :-). So sorry to hear you are suffering g with same problem. I would recommend having benedryl stashed everywhere, an epi-pen and making most of your own food. Good luck.

  2. I live in the heart of Texas. My husband bought a bushel of roasted hatch chiles for us to work up and freeze for the next twelve months. Within several minutes of washing and chopping the chile peppers, I started coughing, choking, eyes watering, stomach cramping; a full blown asthma attack. I hadn’t eaten any and I was wearing gloves. I left the kitchen, downed Benedryl, used my inhaler and my nebulizer. I hadn’t had an asthma attack in many months; had never used my epipens which had expired. I got myself out of the kitchen and managed to survive until I could see my allergist. But I kept having reoccurring coughing episodes despite double antihistamine dosages. The allergist said It was pretty evident I was anaphalactically allergic to peppers, possibly all night shade vegetables. What was notable was that I am like people who are allergic to peanuts or shellfish–reacting to the food without ingesting it. I got a strong lecture about keeping the epipens up-to-date and near at hand, not to mention, knowing when to get my fanny to the hospital.

    What is difficult is not only not eating any night chile peppers, but staying away from any proximity to chile peppers. They’re in mayo, tomato sauce, every type of salad dressing and seasoning blend, all Italian food, all Indian food, all Mexican food, half of all Chinese food, almost every canned soup, and condiment. Chile peppers include not only jalepenos and anaheims, but green, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers and paprika. After spending untold hours calling 800 numbers, I feel secure in saying that if any product has “spices”, “flavorings”, or other nonspecific listed in the fine print of ingredients, one of those will be a pepper. I just keep reacting.

    Even when my family bakes pizza and I banish myself upstairs, I will start coughing and hacking and have to use the inhaler and nebulizer . My girls have tried to empty my cabinet and refrigerator of pepper products, but I’m not sure how thorough they’ve been. And I can’t go do it. I have to stay away from the stuff. What more do I have to do? At this point I just want to get over this long episode of asthma and allergic reaction. I want to feel reasonably healthy again. If my husband needs to travel for work and wants to take me along, can I fly safely? How about overseas? I’m finding out about peanut allergies, but nothing about peppers. Am I that weird?

    • i have an allergy to capsaicin which is in paprika and all peppers BUT bell peppers (genetic lack of ability to produce this chemical). i make my own dressings and also have eliminated anything with spices or flavorings in ingrediants. i get rashes/hives from ingesting. lately – i have been continuing to have outbreaks. i’m going to start investigating some of the nightshade plants.

    • I understand, I live in New Mexico and it is everywhere. I didn’t know I was allergic till I moved here. The worse thing is I work in a Hospital and my coworkers eat in our work area. So almost everyday I am sick, and they just laugh about it.
      I really feel for all of you because it is so hard to avoid.

  3. Deirdre and Victor, you may have what is know as night shade sensitivity. Peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes are members of the night shade family, botanically. I would suggest doing research on night shade vegetables. There are more of us out there than anybody realize. I believe I suffered with the sensitivity for several years–lymphodema, mental confusion, fibromyalgia, joint stiffness–before developing a full blown allergy. It’s hard not to be discouraged now and then when the symptoms never seem to let up. Treating the symptoms, one by one, can disguise the sum total of those same symptoms. My naturopath/nutritionist/chiropractor ( she’s multi-degreed) has helped immeasurably .

    • I have and react exactly the way you do Carla- any advice? It used to only be an intolerance but now is a full blown allergy. I react like you do just when I breathe it too! Did you have to take out all nightshades? How do you heal after accidentally ingesting bell peppers?

  4. I get a full blown all over headache and pain radiating down my neck from any Chile peppers. I can hardly move my neck. I feel nauseated and my entire head hurts. I have to stay away from anything hot!. The pain happens within hours of me eating a chili. We are our best health experts. Doctors probally would not believe me if I said chili was causing my headaches.

  5. I have the same problem in my mouth from last 1 year..i have concern many doctors and take medicine also but still no relife…redness around lips, itching in both side of mouth..throt irritation..i am having itching up to liver..as iam a diebetic pateint this problem increase as the sugar level in my body increase..so please suggest me the treatment of this itching..

    • Rehana Gulrez, I suffer from an auto-immune disease called Lichen Sclerosus. Eating peppers, chillis and other nightshades makes me break out in painful blisters, so I completely avoid them. I would get yourself checked for Oral Lichen Planus, which has similar symptoms, including the severe itching.

  6. i am 44 years old india man, so our mostly all fool cook with cilli i don’t know about cilli allergy, since my childhood i had stomach problem whole my life every day 3-4 time i need to go toilet, all other mild chilli allergy symptoms i had. my life was in hell. day by day my problem go worse, i had no idea this is happening because of cilli. by God’s help two years ago i feel maybe i am sick because of cilli so when i totaly stop to eat all kind of cilli, now i am very very health. it was a very horrible nightmare thanks God, after leave cilli, i feel much better & very happy. you can say it is happy ending.

  7. I have been diagnosed with lichen scelrosis. I have had this for about 4 years and have tried every ointment, cream, herbal medicine and I am now having acupuncture – anything to relieve the horrendous itch in my genitalia! I love chillies and my husband has said I could be allergic, but I have dismissed this as I just cannot fathom that this would only effect my private parts. But last night had lots of chilli sauce and 4 hours later had an attack and now red raw from the itching. Could this be possible – that only this area is effected. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated

    • Rita, I think it can affect people in different ways, so try to avoid chillies and see how you are. If I eat them after about 3 1/2 to 4 hours I will have bad stomach cramps and terrible diarrhoea which will last for up to 48 hours. I feel terrible.Too bad to work. Even the smallest amount of chilli will affect me. And chilli is in so many products you can buy from the supermarkets so I read the ingredients of everything and am very careful when I eat out. I am fine with bell peppers and all other spices, which is good because I like spicy food. Fortunately my local take away Indian food shop will wash all their pans twice before making me their food without chilli and I am fine.

    • Oh sister..Forget about it!! Eating salsa chli..chili sauce.. is down the drain..I have just, these last few month, returned to the salsa and chili sauce..great while it lasted..it build up to a real blow out for me..the body just goes ape.. you can probably eat minor amounts.. stipulate minor..but a lover of salsa can be facial disaster for some..me.. red rash eating,desolving your top layer of skin..blotches..it had a persistent itch in the nose years ago and figured out it was chili ulsers..so I really toned it down to almost nill..but recently went to the well (dip) too often.. bonsai. .leave it behind.. (no scratching in the assin)

  8. Thank you for this, I was begining to think I was odd. I’ve been told by many medical professionals that they had never heard of chili allergy, with the implication that I was making it up. At least I now know I wasnt imagining it all.

  9. It’s real Martyn, I’m allergic to all hot peppers as well. This was offcially diagnosed in the hospital. I get extreme itching rash on my stomach area and my eczema worsens a lot when I eat it. Also, everythime I ate spicy food (which I don’t anymore, for obvious reasons) I had to run for the toilet within half an hour. I suffered from bloating, cramps and d***** for a week afterwards. Not exactly worth it.

    For me this explains why I never really liked spicy food anyway, just adapted to other people’s food wishes.

    I want to thank the writer of this article, I didn’t understand why I’m allergic to paprika (powder) but not to the fresh fruit (bell pepper), now I know 🙂

    • My allergist confirmed I am allergic to paprika, cayenne, all kinds of red chilis, and my body breaks out in horrible eczema that itches like hell. I am currently in a state of wretched itch because I ate two bags of Doritos last week. Guess what’s in Doritos, yep, bell pepper powder, paprika, etc. I am taking Hydroxyzine and using Clobetasol cream and I am still suffering. The allergy is real.

  10. Oooh, I get mouth sores within the hour after eating any chili product, and walnuts and pecans. I am very allergic to penecillin. I may have other food allergies, and mold and dog dander. A lot of these things seem to cross over. It might be involved in some digestive problems. At least I don’t have anaphalactic reaction to foods, but I do keep Benedryl and an inhaler handy…and I live near the hospital! I use an oral steroid cream on the sores, but it’s not good to use it too often. Very little research is done on aphthous ulcers in the mouth, but I am convinced it is food sensitivities.

    • Charlotte, where did you find the info re cross-reactivity of chilis and walnuts/pecans? I have always been allergic to tree nuts but suddenly developed what seems to be a green chile allergy. I would love to know about the food allergy cross reactivities and ways I can try to work toward a cure.

    • Hi Charlotte. I empathize with you. My reaction to capsaicin is similar. If I eat it, my mouth burns for hours and ultimately blisters form and the mucosa peels off leaving the inside of my mouth raw. If used externally in an arthritis rub, my skin turns bright red and burns for hours. Washing it off doesn’t help. I do ok with small amounts of sweet paprika and bell peppers but I avoid capsaicin as much as I can.

  11. I’ve been suffering with an upper swollen lip for almost a year now. I am at my wits end. Have seen 3 allergist and one dermatologist. Still do not know the culprit. I am wondering if it could be chilies all though its not something I dis on a daily basis.

  12. Wow after reading that I realise I have a strong allergy to chillies had quite a few bonnet chillies in a mince dish suffered stomach and abdominal pain extreme headaches dizzy spells couldn’t see to drive its the 4th day and I still have strong abdominal pain and fuzzy head some pain when does it go away ?

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