Ask the Allergist
Why Do My Hands Feel Itchy After Cutting Tomatoes?
Tomatoes can cause a variety of topical or skin reactions. This includes uncomfortable irritation of the skin due to acids in tomatoes. Skin contact with tomatoes can cause itching. In some cases, it can cause hives at the contact site.
These skin reactions are not immune-based. They are not the same as allergic reactions that happen after eating tomatoes. They are better classified as contact or irritant reactions. Immune-based reaction include symptoms in the mouth, throat, stomach, and respiratory system (e.g. cough, wheezing, and shortness of breath).
You can have a contact or irritant reaction after touching tomatoes, but not a food allergy to tomatoes if you eat them. If that is the case, be careful when touching tomatoes, but you don’t need to avoid eating them.
John M. James, MD, is a board-certified allergist. He is also President of Food Allergy Consulting and Education Services, LLC. He has worked as a medical specialist in the field of allergy, asthma, and immunology for over 30 years. Dr. James received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Tennessee. He is board certified by the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.