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Salicylate Allergy

Salicylates are chemicals found naturally in plants and are a major ingredient in aspirin and other pain-relieving medications. They are also found in many fruits and vegetables, as well as in many common health and beauty products.

What Are the Symptoms of a Salicylate Allergy?

The degree of reaction to salicylates can vary based on multiple factors. Typically, the content of salicylates can vary from one item to another and even among batches of the same item from the same source. Additionally, the degree of salicylate sensitivity can vary from person to person. People with  a low salicylate tolerance may have an allergic reaction if more than a small amount of salicylate is consumed. Symptoms of a salicylate allergy vary but may include:

  • Asthma-like symptoms, such as trouble breathing and wheezing
  • Headaches
  • Nasal congestion
  • Changes in skin color
  • Itching, skin rash, or hives
  • Swelling of the hands, feet, and face
  • Stomach pain

In severe cases, a salicylate allergy can lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction involving a severe drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, and organ system failure. Avoiding products that contain salicylates is the best defense against an allergic reaction.

Salicylates can be found in a variety of foods, medications, and cosmetics. Some examples of salicylate-containing substances include:

Foods That Contain SalicylatesProducts That May Contain SalicylatesSalicylate-Containing Ingredients
Fruits such as apples, avocados, blueberries, dates, kiwi fruit, peaches, raspberries, figs, grapes, plums, strawberries, cherries, grapefruit, and prunes

Vegetables such as alfalfa, cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms, radishes, broad beans, eggplant, spinach, zucchini, broccoli, and hot peppers

Some cheeses

Herbs, spices, and condiments such as dry spices and powders, tomato pastes and sauces, vinegar, and soy sauce, jams, and jellies

Beverages such as coffee, wine, beer, orange juice, apple cider, regular and herbal tea, rum, and sherry

Nuts such as pine nuts, peanuts, pistachios, and almonds

Some candies, such as peppermints, licorice, and mint-flavored gum and breath mints

Ice cream, gelatin

 
Fragrances and perfumes

Shampoos and conditioners

Herbal remedies

Cosmetics such as lipsticks, lotions, and skin cleansers

Mouthwash and mint-flavored toothpaste

Shaving cream

Sunscreens or tanning lotions

Muscle pain creams

Alka Seltzer

 
Aspirin

Acetylsalicylic acid

Artificial food coloring and flavoring

Benzoates

Beta-hydroxy acid

Magnesium salicylate

Menthol

Mint

Salicylic acid

Peppermint

Phenylethyl salicylate

Sodium salicylate

Spearmint

 

 


 

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Luqman Seidu, MD on May 18, 2014
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