Signs and Symptoms of Peppermint Oil Allergies


The oil derived from peppermint is mainly used to flavor products like toothpaste and foods. Practitioners of alternative and complimentary medicine sometimes recommend peppermint extract for various ailments, including stomachaches and allergies.

I’ve never treated a case of peppermint allergy in my practice; it’s quite uncommon. However, when it does cause issues, those problems are likely to be skin allergies (allergic contact dermatitis) resulting from direct exposure to peppermint oil.

Although rare, the compounds in the peppermint herb responsible for the skin allergy may lead to a response more typical of a food allergy in some people.
Peppermint and Contact Dermatitis
The chemicals in peppermint suspected of causing allergic contact dermatitis have names like characters from ancient mythology: phellandrene, limonene, and alpha-pinene. Another allergy-causing suspect present in peppermint oil is terpene ketone L-carvone.

In the end, the exact cause isn’t that important. What matters is recognizing and treating the reaction. If you have an allergic reaction, you may have a red, itchy rash that may blister on skin that has been exposed to peppermint leaves, oils, or extracts. You may also experience a local reaction, such as contact dermatitis or a respiratory reaction.

Allergic contact dermatitis can show up one to two days after the offending substance is exposed to your skin. And it can take two to four weeks, including treatment time, to subside.

Peppermint and Food Allergies
Although rare, the compounds in the peppermint herb responsible for the skin allergy may lead to a response more typical of a food allergy in some people.

It doesn’t take much of an allergen-laden food to produce the symptoms of a food allergy. The symptoms, as the Mayo Clinic explains, can appear within minutes or a couple of hours after eating. Individuals may experience:

Itching or tingling in the mouth


Itchy skin


Swollen features including the lips, tongue, and face

Even the throat and other parts of the body may swell.

Respiratory Symptoms
Food allergies can cause respiratory symptoms like trouble breathing, congestion, and wheezing. The allergic response may affect the digestive system by provoking diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and pain. Sufferers also may become lightheaded and faint.

Although it is unlikely to ever reach this point with a peppermint allergy, it is important to note that food allergies can cause serious issues. The most severe symptoms of a food allergy include constriction of the airway, shock, and unconsciousness. This severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis, and must be treated immediately to prevent death.

Seeking Help
Any time you suspect you are having an allergic reaction to a substance, immediately discontinue eating or using whatever you think is causing the problem, and consult your physician or an allergist.

If you aren’t sure what is responsible for the reaction, a specialist can help identify the allergen, advise you on how to avoid it, and treat you for the symptoms.

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