You’ve heard of peanut and wheat allergies, but if you get a weird tingly feeling in your mouth when you eat raw fruit, you may wonder — can a person be allergic to apples? It turns out this is a mostly harmless reaction, called oral allergy syndrome, that happens in people who are allergic to pollen.
Basically, something in the fruit or vegetable that bothers you is similar to the pollen that you’re actually allergic to. NPR’s The Salt has a good explanation of what’s happening, with a breakdown (thanks to National Jewish Health) of which allergies can be triggered by which fruits. For example, if you’re allergic to the pollen birch trees put out in spring, you may react to a similar protein in the skins of apples and peaches.
Cooking the veggies can help: The proteins break down, so you’ll probably be able to eat applesauce or apple pies, even if raw apples make your lips itch. Peeling often helps, too. But if the reaction is anything worse than a tingly mouth — or if it involves nuts or another common food allergen — it’s time to seek medical help.