Watermelon is a hydrating summer fruit, which is widely consumed all over the world. Allergic reactions to watermelon are rare, but it is possible. Scientific studies have found that the presence of three different allergens in watermelon may cause severe reactions in individuals who are allergic to it. It’s best if such individuals completely eliminate watermelon from their diet. Not all watermelon allergies appear at birth, some individuals may experience allergic reactions, even if they ate watermelon regularly without any adverse effects in the past.
Causes of Watermelon Allergy
Studies have identified three different allergens that give rise to watermelon allergy. These three allergens include:
- Malate dehydrogenase
- Triosephosphate isomerase
Watermelon contains allergy-provoking protein that is similar to the ragweed pollen. If you are allergic to pollen, there are chances that you may even develop watermelon allergy
A sensitivity to watermelon may also be caused due to the inability of the body to recognize proteins. This causes activation of the antibodies and allergic reactions to watermelon, even though watermelon is not dangerous for the body.
Watermelon Allergy Symptoms
The symptoms of watermelon allergy are similar to the reactions of any other food allergy. They include:
Consumption of watermelon may lead to the following gastrointestinal symptoms in sensitive individuals, these include:
- Diarrhea or loose stools
- Stomach pain
- Abdominal cramps
In some cases, it may lead to itching of the throat and swelling of the mouth.
In severe cases, it may lead to anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening condition, which needs immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Rapid heart rate
- Drop in the blood pressure levels
- Difficulty in breathing
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Shortness of breath or suffocation
Watermelon Allergy Diagnosis & Tests
The first step to diagnose an allergy is to observe your symptoms carefully. If you observe any undesirable reactions after the intake of watermelon, contact your physician immediately. Tell your physician in detail about the symptoms and your entire food history. The type of food you have been eating recently will help the doctor understand about the allergy better.
Skin Prick Test:
With the help of the skin prick test, your allergist can determine if you are allergic to watermelon. In this test, your allergist pricks your skin with the help of a lancet and an extract of watermelon is applied to that part of the skin. Changes in the skin such as redness, itching, the growth of a bump is a clear indicator of watermelon allergy.
Oral Food Challenge Test:
In this test allergic symptoms are observed following intake of the suspected food, that is, watermelon. This test provides the most reliable confirmation of symptoms.
- Individuals who are allergic to ragweed pollen are at a greater risk of developing watermelon allergy
- Individuals with a history of food allergy
- Individuals with a family history of watermelon allergy
Treatment of Watermelon Allergy
- The best way to treat watermelon allergy is to avoid the intake of watermelon as well as food products that are made using watermelon
- Your doctor may prescribe you anti-histamines, which help in blocking the allergic symptoms
- If symptoms are left untreated you experience symptoms of anaphylaxis, seek medical attention immediately.
- Consume foods that will help you boost your immune system
- Accidental ingestion of watermelon can cause adverse reactions. During this time, immediately remove the fruit from your mouth and rinse your mouth. This may help you in lowering the symptoms.
- In severe cases, a person may experience symptoms just by touching watermelon. Such sensitive individuals must wear gloves while handling this fruit
- Enquire at the restaurant before ordering a juice or a fruit salad. Many a times, watermelon is a part of mixed fruit juice. Ask the restaurant staff to get you a juice or a fruit salad without watermelon in it
- Completely eliminate watermelon from your diet. Make a list of foods that contain watermelon and avoid the intake of such foods
- Besides food products, many cosmetics contain watermelon in them, for example- watermelon flavored lip balm, face wash, face scrub and shampoo. Individuals who are sensitive to watermelon must avoid the use of such products
- Read the food label carefully before purchasing the food product (1, 2, 3)
List of Foods to Avoid
Here is a list of foods to avoid if you are allergic to watermelon:
- Watermelon juice
- Watermelon ice cream
- Watermelon flavored candies and jellies
- Watermelon syrups
- Watermelon vinaigrette
Individuals with such an allergy should also avoid intake of other melons from the gourd family, these include:
- Honeydew melon
If you are allergic to ragweed pollen, you should avoid: