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Ask the Allergist

Ask the Allergist

Can a Child With a Tree Nut Allergy Touch Acorns?

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Question
If a child is allergic to tree nuts, are they able to touch acorns? Are they just avoided to be safe or are they causes of allergic reactions?
Answer

Acorns are botanical nuts of oak trees. They are not a common allergen. Anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction) due to contact with acorns would be very rare. There are case reports in the medical literature of allergic reactions after eating acorns. This was thought to be caused by cross-reactivity due to a pollen allergy and not due to nut allergy.

Contact with acorns would pose a low risk of systemic reactions, even in someone with a tree nut allergy. Washing with soap and water would get rid of the allergen.

Look here and here for more information on tree nut avoidance.

Categories
Allergy, Anaphylaxis, Tree Nut Allergy
Answered by

Douglas T. Johnston, DO, FAAAAI, FACAAI, is an allergist/clinical immunologist at Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Assistant Professor at Edward Via School of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He is a fellow of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). He has lectured at national and international medical conferences and has publications in several medical journals, including “Clinical Immunology,” “World Allergy Organization Journal,” “Journal of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology,” “The Journal of the American Medical Association,” and the “New England Journal of Medicine.”

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