Salicylate Allergy

What Is Salicylate Allergy?

A salicylate allergy (also called salicylate intolerance or sensitivity) is a reaction that happens when you come in contact with salicylates, salicylic acid, or related chemicals.

Salicylates are found in plants. They’re a natural ingredient in many fruits, vegetables, and spices. Synthetic salicylates are a major ingredient in aspirin and other pain-relieving medications. Natural and synthetic salicylates also are in many common health and beauty products.

Salicylate Allergy Symptoms

These vary but may include:

In severe cases, a salicylate allergy can lead to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction that is an emergency. But this is rare in the case of salicylate allergy.

The content of salicylates can vary from one item to another and even among batches of the same item from the same source. Some people are more sensitive to these chemicals than others. People with a low tolerance may have an allergic reaction if they get more than a small amount of salicylate.

Salicylate Allergy Causes and Risk Factors

It’s not clear exactly what causes salicylate allergy. Allergies in general happen when the immune system reacts to a food or other substance. This immune reaction leads to inflammation and other symptoms.

You're at higher risk of salicylate allergy if:

  • You have family members with allergies
  • You have other allergies or asthma.
  • You are a child

Some experts think that salicylate allergy may play a role in some cases of other food allergies and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).

What to Avoid

If you’re allergic to salicylates, you’ll need to avoid items that have them.

They're in a variety of foods, medications, and cosmetics, including:

Foods That Contain Salicylates Products That May Contain Salicylates Salicylate-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

Drinks 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

Pepto-Bismol

Aspirin

Acetylsalicylic acid

Artificial food coloring and flavoring

Benzoates

Hydrobenzoic acid

Magnesium salicylate

Menthol

Mint

Salicylic acid

Peppermint

Phenylethyl salicylate

Sodium salicylate

Spearmint

Continued

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on September 22, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

The Food Allergy Initiative.

Mayo Clinic: “Allergies.”

Auckland Allergy & Eczema Clinic: “Salicylate Sensitivity.”

Deutsches Arzteblatt International: “Salicylate Intolerance: Pathophysiology, Clinical Spectrum, Diagnosis and Treatment.”

Clinical and Translational Allergy: “Sensitivity to food additives, vaso-active amines and salicylates: a review of the evidence.”

Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology: “Significance of salicylate intolerance in diseases of the lower gastrointestinal tract.”

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