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occ's avatar

Has anyone heard of an allergy where cayenne pepper makes your nose itch?

Asked by occ (4003 points ) June 17th, 2007

Everytime I eat a dish with cayenne pepper--or it is hot chile peppers?--my nose starts itching furiously about 10 minutes later. It's really unpleasant. And yet, I love eating out--and almost every thai, indian, and italian restaurant uses cayenne. Does anyone else have this allergy or know someone who does? is there any antidote?

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12 Answers

lilakess's avatar

some acupuncturists claim they can cure allergies...

gailcalled's avatar

Usually hot spices and peppers make nose run and will help sinuses drain. I never heard of itchy nose.

occ's avatar

Hi gailcalled, it's different than just a reaction to the spicyness...if I have jalapeno peppers my nose might run, but it's nothing like this itchy sensation (on the outside of my nose!). this is definitely a different kind of allergic reaction...I can't figure it out!

gailcalled's avatar

If it's an allergy, sad to say, you have to give up the spice, whatever it is. Skip them both, see if nose stops itching, then introduce one at a time. Very odd. IANAD, of course.

hossman's avatar

Make sure you do not touch the outside of your nose during the preparation, consumption or after eating the dish. If there is no direct contact between the itching area and the food, then your reaction is more likely to be an allergy or biochemical reaction to ingesting the food rather than a chemical reaction between your skin and the capsicum in the pepper. You could also try chewing bread or rice, or drinking/eating wine, vinegar or another acidic substance to cleanse the irritating oils of the pepper from your mucous membranes to diminish the effects of the pepper.

samkusnetz's avatar

occ, this sounds like allergy to me. i have beaten my cat allergy by forced exposure, but i wouldn't screw around with a food allergy because they can worse unexpectedly. i agree with gail... give up the spices, then re-introduce them to your diet very very slowly, one at a time. this will help you zero in on what exactly you're allergic to.

girlfriday's avatar

How cool. Did anything else itch? Capsaicin is a nifty alkaloid that can have all sorts of different effects when it's ingested and/or when it's applied topically. Like, it's used in pepper spray as a topical irritant right? But it's also topically applied as a neural analgesic for intractable pain. (in both cases it hyper-excites the nerves, but has opposite effects.) Capsaicin can affect the trigeminal nerve that runs through the nose and have a seriously different presentation than, say, histamines do. Some people think that capsaicin affects a different sub-population of nerves in the nose than histamines (which can cause sneezing/runny nose, etc.). It may also be that the inflammatory mediators that capsaicin and histamines provoke to calm the trigeminal nerve are different. In any case, I think you should experiment and report back. (Just kidding... sort of).

prickeke's avatar

I get the same itch when I eat chilis or chili powder—salsa, italian (like you said), chipotle chili powder, etc. I think it is an allergy and I HAVE IT TOO! Argh! I just found out that it was chilis and not tomatoes because I have only itched after eating stuff with tomatoes in it but I just ate a brownie with chipotle chili in it and my nose started itching about 10 minutes after. It was a debate between tomatoes, onions, garlic, and chilis/chili powder.

swordfish's avatar

ok, i have a very strange reaction to cayenne pepper sauce. the first time i had it, my tongue swelled up and i got VERY anxious. i took benadryl and went to bed and i was fine. the next morning i stupidly took a bite of a breakfast burrito with , guess what, pepper sauce in it. this time it was even worse. my tongue swelled up, my eyes got blurry, and i got EXTREMELY panicky. i went to the hospital for a shot and the symptoms kept coming back for a week, i took benadryl around the clock. this is the strangest allergy i have ever had, and i live in fear of ever accidently eating something with it again. oh, and the quack at the hospital said i just had a chemical reaction to the capsaicin, and that it was normal.. YEAH RIGHT

Kon's avatar

I have what you call “itchy nose”! This itchy sensation (on the outside of my nose!). When I eat sunflower seeds! I do not touch my nose and it starts getting itchy and gets a bit red (outside). I happens sometimes with other food, but I did not manage to find out what exactly makes my nose itchy. I am probably allergic to other food as well. When I eat black pepper or spices, I start to cough, my throat gets scratchy and I am having a sore throat that leads to pharyngitis.

OO7girl's avatar

My nose also itches like CRAZY when I eat cayenne pepper! I was having serious sleep issues for months, and I assumed it was due to the dry indoor winter air in my new apartment. But I eventually realized that it was because I was having eggs with hot sauce in them every morning. The itchy nose would literally last all day (complete with sneezing), and then it would wake me up in the middle of the night. It was infuriating. I would be awake from 3 or 4 AM to 5 or 6 AM, unable to get back to sleep due to the itching. I often took an allergy pill, but even that didn’t help all that much. I finally made the connection that it was the cayenne pepper (the main ingredient in Frank’s Red Hot). I have stopped eating the hot sauce, and the problem is totally gone! So odd, but I“m glad it’s over with now.

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