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Getting tingling sensation in arms and neck with pink skin after eating raw sesame seeds. Concerned

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Allergist and Immunologist
Practicing since : 1999
Answered : 584 Questions
Greetings. Since my childhood I have been allergic to two very different items - sunflower seeds and kiwi fruit. The reaction has been the same, namely enlarged luvula and itchiness in my throat. However, I have encountered something brand new. After eating raw sesame seeds my skin on my arms and back and neck turn pink and warm and tingling like a mild sunburn (especially on my right side), which is a very different reaction than to the others. So I take two Benadryl and it goes away.
But what could have suddenly caused me to have this new allergic reaction on my skin, and what could be the common factor among the first two items (kiwi and sunflower seeds) and now the third (sesame seeds) that trigger the allergic reaction? I don't think I have reactions, however, to sesame or sunflower oils. Thanks.
Posted Fri, 7 Dec 2012 in Skin Rash
Answered by Dr. Sujoy Khan 3 hours later

Thank you for writing to us.

Sesame seed allergy is by far more common than sunflower seed allergy when you consider seed allergy only. Your previous reactions were to kiwi fruit and sunflower seeds, and now you have reacted to sesame seeds.

This is not unusual in patients with food allergies, as the immune system occasionally extends the allergic spectrum to other foods that have similar proteins.

It is possible that you have hay fever (grass/tree pollen allergy). In sufferers with severe hay fever, the various proteins in grass pollen that your immune system kicks up a fuss against, it also extends these allergic reactions to kiwi fruits, apples, peaches etc and then to seeds that are storage proteins.

You will need a specific IgE blood test against grass mix, tree mix, sesame, kiwi, latex, and sunflower seed to see if you have developed this extensive cross-reactivity.

I will be happy to answer any more queries that you may have.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Getting tingling sensation in arms and neck with pink skin after eating raw sesame seeds. Concerned 3 hours later
IyThank you. In fact I have had hay fever in the spring and fall, but my symptoms have become much milder in rhe last ten years or so. Is that common, and why would my symptom for raw sesame be so different than for the other items? Is it possible that the sesame seed batch was affected by something since I have eaten them before with no problem? Is there a difference between roasted and raw sesame for allergy symptoms? When I eat now breads with sesame I have no symptoms.
Answered by Dr. Sujoy Khan 1 hour later
Interesting follow up query.

As you had hay fever symptoms in the spring and fall, it would definitely be worthwhile getting all the blood tests checked for individual allergens that I alluded to before.
With the sesame, it is interesting that you can eat seeded bread (mostly roasted sesame) while you react to raw sesame. This is opposite to nuts where roasted peanuts cause more reactions than boiled peanuts. With sesame, the most likely explanation will be similar to profilins in fruits that you react when you bite a raw XXXXXXX but not when you have XXXXXXX jam or quiche.
The raw sesame behaves like pollen while the roasted ones will change the nature of allergens exposed that you do not seem to react.

I hope that I have answered your query.

Best Wishes.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Getting tingling sensation in arms and neck with pink skin after eating raw sesame seeds. Concerned 2 hours later
Thank you, Dr. Sujoy. Does the symptom of pink hot skin differ from the usual symptom of enlarged uvula and itching in the throat in terms of the allergens in sesame seeds versus kiwi or sunflower seeds?
Answered by Dr. Sujoy Khan 2 hours later
No the symptoms of pink hot skin and enlarged uvula and throat itching are not different but fall under the category of allergic reactions.

The site of involvement of the reaction would depend on the type of exposure, such as handling raw kiwi fruit or cutting the fruit would lead to hand itching and hot skin; while eating a fruit or food that you are allergic to would lead to throat problems.

The degree of severity of the allergic reaction depends on several factors such as (1) amount of exposure; (2) whether multiple allergic foods were consumed at the same time; (3) a secondary factor that makes allergies worse, such as stress or viral infections or asthma. Obviously, if you have a severe allergic reaction at any point an emergency kit should be available and prescribed by your doctor.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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