What you need to know about a kiwi allergy

Kiwi, also known as Chinese gooseberry, is very popular in diets in North America and around the world. It is also becoming one of the most common food allergies globally.

A kiwi allergy starts with mild symptoms but can become more severe over time. For this reason, it’s important not to ignore any reactions you might have after eating a kiwi.

This article describes the different types of kiwi allergies and their treatments. It also explains when you should seek medical attention.

Types of kiwi allergy

There are two types of allergic reactions to kiwi:

  • Standard food allergies may involve abdominal symptoms, rashes, and breathing problems.
  • Oral allergy syndrome (OAS), also known as pollen-food allergy syndrome (PFAS), is a condition in which the body mistakes certain foods for pollen. It can produce a mild allergic reaction.

Children are more likely to have severe symptoms than adults. Food allergies can last a lifetime, but some people — especially children — grow up.

Kiwi Nutrition Facts

Kiwis are rich in:

  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Potassium
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • fiber
  • Antioxidants

Kiwi Allergy Triggers and Cross-Reactions

Researchers found 13 different allergens in kiwifruit. These are otherwise harmless substances that your body may mistake as dangerous, triggering an allergic reaction.

Because kiwi has so many allergens, being allergic to kiwi may mean you’re allergic to something else too. This is called cross-reactivity.

Foods and other plant parts that cross-react with kiwi allergens include:

  • Apple
  • avocado
  • banana
  • birch pollen
  • grass pollen
  • Hazelnuts and other tree nuts
  • emulsion
  • melon
  • peanut
  • poppy seeds
  • Potato
  • ragweed
  • sesame seeds
  • wheat

Studies have shown that people who live in geographic areas with more birch pollen have a higher chance of developing a kiwi allergy.

Latex is a natural product. It is produced by rubber trees and similar plants. It is used in products such as surgical gloves and condoms. Latex and kiwi have at least two allergens.


A kiwi allergy can cause symptoms ranging from very mild to life-threatening. If you are allergic to kiwi, you may also have a reaction to some other fruits, vegetables, and pollen.

Understanding Food Allergies

Kiwi Allergy Symptoms

Your symptoms depend on the type of kiwi allergy you have.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

If your kiwi sensitivity is classified as OAS, symptoms are usually mild. They are limited to the mouth and throat.

OAS symptoms may include:

  • Itching or tingling in the mouth, lips, tongue, or throat
  • swelling of the mouth and throat
  • Symptoms that last only a few minutes

In rare cases, an allergic reaction may occur. This is a life-threatening reaction, including being unable to breathe. Allergic reactions are more common in people with OAS involving nuts. This response is always a medical emergency.

Your OAS symptoms may be worst when pollen counts are high. You may notice an increase in food-related symptoms when other allergens are at their peak.

Kiwi and Asthma Symptoms

If you’re not allergic to kiwis, you may eat them, research suggests reduce Asthma symptoms such as wheezing and bronchitis.

real kiwi food allergy

For those with a true kiwi allergy, symptoms can be much more severe. They may include:

  • stomach ache
  • Dyspnea/anaphylaxis (more common than OAS)
  • Eczema, a skin condition that involves raised, itchy patches
  • measles
  • rash
  • Vomit

What started out as a mild kiwi allergy may get worse if you continue to eat kiwi. You may experience some mild itching around your mouth the first time you try kiwi, but if you eat kiwi again, you will experience more pronounced symptoms.

For some people, the allergic reaction occurs immediately. For others, allergy symptoms don’t start until they exercise, drink alcohol, or eat kiwi.


There are two types of kiwi allergy: OAS and true kiwi allergy. OAS mainly causes itching and mild swelling in and around the mouth. A true kiwi allergy can cause nausea, vomiting, breathing problems, fainting, and allergic reactions. An allergic reaction is a medical emergency. Because a kiwi allergy can get worse over time, it’s important to see your doctor early.

Treatment of kiwi allergy

The best way to manage OAS or a true kiwi allergy is to avoid kiwi and anything you might cross-react.

Kiwi is used in many products, so it’s important to check ingredient labels. In restaurants, also tell the waiter about your food allergies.

Sometimes cooking or heating the food in question can reduce or destroy the chemicals that cause OAS symptoms. You may want to microwave the kiwi for a few seconds to see if you can tolerate it better.

emergency treatment

Usually, OAS does not require treatment. It clears up quickly on its own.

If not, or you are allergic to kiwi, you may need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector (such as an EpiPen) to avoid an allergic reaction.

If you don’t have one, or have it handy, go to the emergency room.

Mild reaction to treatment

For mild reactions, antihistamines such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) may help.Doctors generally do not recommend taking antihistamines on a regular basis avoid Symptoms of a kiwi allergy. But once you realize you’re eating the food in question, you can eat one.

If you take an antihistamine daily to manage seasonal or environmental allergies, it may also reduce your food allergy symptoms.

Foods That May Contain Kiwi

Reading labels and ingredient lists is the best way to avoid eating kiwis by mistake. You may find kiwis in:

  • Tropical or fruit smoothie
  • frozen fruit mix
  • fruit salad
  • Sorbet and Fruit Frozen Desserts

Some meat producers also use kiwi as a tenderizer or as an additive in meat sauce products. Some people who are allergic to kiwi are also sensitive to papain, a papain enzyme used for tenderizing meat.

when to see a doctor

If you develop allergy symptoms after eating kiwi, seek medical attention immediately. An allergy doctor can help you pinpoint exactly what’s causing your reaction, so you can avoid triggers and prevent a more severe reaction.

Your doctor can also prescribe an EpiPen if you show signs of a real kiwi allergy. If you have any severe allergy symptoms, please call 911 or go to the emergency room. These symptoms include:

  • skin changes, such as hives or itching
  • blood pressure drop
  • swelling of the tongue, mouth, or throat
  • wheezing or gasping for breath
  • nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • feeling dizzy or fainting


Kiwi is a popular and nutrient-dense fruit, but it can cause allergic reactions in many people. On the milder end of the spectrum, kiwi can cause OAS with tingling, itching, or swelling in the mouth and throat. In severe cases, a true kiwi allergy can cause breathing problems, stomach problems, loss of consciousness, and even death.

People with kiwi allergies often have reactions to other fruits, vegetables, and pollen. If you develop allergy symptoms after eating or coming into contact with kiwi, consult a healthcare professional for testing. You may need to stay away from kiwis and plants that cross-react. You may also need medication (including an EpiPen) to treat the reaction.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How to test a baby for a kiwi allergy?

    A skin prick test is a common way to test for kiwi or other food allergies. It can be done on babies over 6 months old. The test is done by puncturing the top layer of the skin with a diluted allergen to see if it triggers an immune response. This is a safe test with little discomfort.

  • How long does it take for a kiwi allergy to occur?

    The type of allergy can determine how quickly kiwi allergy symptoms occur. Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), or allergic reactions that primarily affect the lips, throat, and mouth, are usually immediate reactions. A true food allergy reaction may occur within seconds or minutes, or may not occur for hours at all.

  • How do you cook kiwi to avoid food allergies?

    You can steam kiwis or reheat them in the microwave for a short time. Heat can alter the proteins in kiwis so they no longer trigger allergy symptoms.

  • How common is a kiwi allergy?

    Kiwi allergy is more common in areas where birch pollen is high. 9% of children who have been diagnosed with allergies to other fruits or vegetables, study finds and 60% Allergic to kiwi.

Allergy testing for children