The pear shaped fig fruit is a swollen flower stalk which can be eaten fresh and raw, peeled or unpeeled. Figs can be canned and dried for use in jams and baked products such as pies, puddings, cakes and bread.
An allergic reaction can result after eating the skin or pulp of green or dried figs, from the extract of figs or from the fresh fig fruit. Inhaling pollen coming from fig or fig trees or touching the fruit can cause allergic reactions. Oftentimes, other people are sensitive to the latex from the unripe figs and any part of the tree they were directly exposed to.
Symptoms of fig allergy
Eating figs can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, coughing, stuffy nose, sore throat, abdominal pain and colic. Some individuals with low tolerance to salicylates that are found in the latex from figs usually end up with symptoms of asthma such as nasal congestion, skin rashes or hives, headaches, swelling of the feet, hands, face and stomach pain. In severe cases, anaphylaxis can happen where there is a severe drop in the pressure of blood, loss of consciousness and eventually death.
Cause of fig allergy
Fig allergy can be caused by the presence of psoralen and bergapten which is capable of producing phototoxic dermatitis. Touching the latex found in unripe fig fruit that are used in making meat tenderizer, provide fat and clarify beverages can also trigger an allergic reaction with symptoms such as burning sensation, inflammation and redness. Packers, fig harvesters and people working in the food industry are at a high risk of developing this condition, but some of the allergens in extracts of fig are lost during the heating process. The leaf and the root sap of a fig tree can also cause allergic reaction and rashes.
Seasons can affect the occurrence of allergic reactions to figs and it is usually during the summer and spring seasons where concentrations of psoralen and bergapten are very high in the fig tree and can cause a severe reaction during these seasons. A person that comes in contact with psoralen can end up with conditions such as hyperpigmentation, blisters and sunburn and oftentimes anaphylaxis.
Treatment and home remedies for fig allergy
- The affected person should avoid eating the fig fruit and byproducts of the fig tree.
- Avoid direct contact with the leaves and roots of the fig in order to prevent the condition from getting worse.
- Take antihistamines to help minimize the symptoms caused by an allergic reaction. These medications work by blocking the immune pathway.
- Epinephrine can be given to the person if he/she experiences anaphylactic shock due to the allergy.
- Extracts from grape seeds which are found in red wine also helps in minimizing any mild allergic reactions such as rashes caused by the different parts of the fig tree.