Saturday, November 17, 2012

Allergic To Raw Shrimp But Not Cooked Shrimp?

When I was a kid we used to have fresh shrimp for dinner at least once a week. I grew up in Redondo Beach, California and we would go to the Pier and get fresh seafood all the time. Living near the ocean the seafood is fresh and you can find it pretty easily and my parents loved seafood, so we had it all the time.

When I was old enough my mom would have me helping to peel the shrimp and that's when we discovered that I can't touch raw shrimp. If I do, I break out in red bumps and blisters all over my hands, but after the shrimp is cooked, I can eat it, touch it...hell I could bathe in it and not have a problem...except of course the cats might follow me home.O.o

So My mom asked my doctor about it and he said that it probably meant I was going to develop a shellfish allergy so I should stop eating, or touching any shellfish. Well, that didn't sit well with me or my parents...because frankly I love my shellfish. So I stopped peeling or handling raw shrimp but still ate it all the time with no problems. My allergy never got any worse.

A few years ago I decided to peel some raw shrimp with my bare hands, I figured one of two things would happen. I would either break out...or I wouldn't and then I would know if I still had the allergy.

Well I got about 4 shrimp in when my hands started itching, getting red and small blisters started covering the skin around my finger nails. So now I know, I still have a strange shellfish allergy.

I still eat cooked shrimp, but now I wear rubber gloves to peel them. I've never developed a worsening shellfish allergy and I seriously doubt I will. I even got tested for allergies and they did a shellfish allergy test..the weird thing is it came back negative for an allergic reaction. Now how in the heck can that happen?

The doctor said our bodies are strange sometimes. Some people are allergic to the fuzz on peaches but can eat the peach itself just fine. Others are allergic to the tomato vines but can eat tomatoes with no problems. And yet others have allergic reactions to raw foods but once they are cooked, they can eat them just fine.

So to anyone out there with an odd reaction to raw foods, maybe you can eat the cooked version of the same food? I can.

75 comments:

  1. That's weird, but at least you know. Lucky for you seafood is still on the dining menu!!

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  2. I sneeze and get a runny nose around certain cats but when I was allergy tested it was negative. Another weird and wonderful phenomenon. I would be so sad to be unable to eat seafood.

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  3. I love seafood, so glad I can still eat it.

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    1. I have the same problem only mine is a little less. My hands and wherever I touch after raw shrimp gets red and itchy with a bump.

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  4. I love seafood, too. Glad you can still enjoy it.

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  5. I have the exact same problem. I've been nervous eating shrimp for years, but have never had a reaction to a cooked one either.

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  6. Found your post when looking up weird shrimp allergies and just wanted to let you know--Me too! I can NOT touch the stuff raw, but I can definitely eat it all day long (and LOVE it!) I don't understand how or why and I'd love to know if there's ever an answer for us....

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  7. Deb, Thanks for your comment. Isn't that the strangest allergy, ever? Glad to hear I'm not the only one. :)

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  8. Have the allergy too. Did not have it before. Glad i could still eat the little critters as they're deliscious.

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  9. I recently found out that I have the same problem, I work in a seafood restaurant and I handle shrimp daily, so needless to say, this is becoming a concern. However, I've never had any problems when it comes to eating them. If anyone has any advice on what we can do to prevent or treat this reaction I would also love to know!!!

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    1. just wear gloves... its not an allergy.. just possibly chemicals of shrimp.. cuz most shrimp packeging companys bleach there shrimp to clean it.. just wear glove

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    2. Chris Amado, you probably should have stopped commenting with the second comment you made below. To tell someone that what they're experiencing is not an allergy when you really have no idea is just reckless. As I already stated my doctor told me that what I had was an allergic reaction so there's a good possibility that others are allergic as well.

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  10. Kristen, the only thing I've found that works is wearing latex gloves.

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  11. Just stumbled upon this and just wanted to say that I too am allergic to raw shrimp and not cooked shrimp. I always pop a benadryl to eat one of my favorite foods ever: aguachiles. Very similar to ceviche in the fact that the fish or shrimp cooks in the lemon juice. But aguachiles cook in lemon, cilantro and jalapeno juice. I love them so much but they make my mouth and throat itch a bit so benadryl helps.

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  12. amoresse7, Thanks for letting me know about that. I've tried the Benadryl too but it makes me so sleepy.

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  13. This is AMAZING!!! I have the EXACT same issue! I am VERY allergic to raw shrimp (haven't had any issues with crabs/lobster/oysters, or other shellfish), but can eat, properly cooked shrimp for days!!! Ia lso tested for a possible iodine allergy, and it came back negative. On a few occasions, while consuming cold shrimp salads, I've had a lessened reaction, but still enough to remind me that "I need to be cautious". So, I've decided to forego my beloved shrimp ceviche, and indulge in the cooked variety!

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  14. Christinia, Thanks for commenting. So glad to know I'm not the only one with this strange allergy.

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  15. I have x-actly the same problem...any shellfish that turns red when cooked makes me break out,when raw.When cooked,it. Does nothing. I haven't touched any raw shellfish since it made me break out. I think it has to do with a tetnus shot whet I got stitches.

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  16. I experience the same thing thats why i googled the symptoms...i niw use rubber gloves and im fine

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  17. I have the SAME exact problem and a physician told me the same thing....I should stop eating it (but of course I won't) ...recently I was peeling shrimp WITH gloves and when I had about 2 more to do....the water from the shrimp flipped directly into my eye!!!! My eye was EXTREMELY swollen so swollen to the point where my pupil looked as if it was sinking into the white area of my eyeball! I washed my eye out and that didn't work....about 3 benadryls later and some sleep my eye finally went down. After this happened I don't peel or touch raw shrimp, I Only cook already peeled shrimp! A simple touch from raw shrimp will make my fingers itchy! So happy to see I'm not the only one with this problem

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  18. I knew I couldn't be the only one with this weird allergy. I found this link that explains how boiling shrimp can reduce the possibility of allergic reaction.
    http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=btnews&dbid=53

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  20. Ian- Thanks for the link. I just use rubber gloves to peel the raw shrimp and then cook them. Once they are cooked I don't have a problem with them at all.

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  21. Here I thought I was the only one with that same allergy reaction

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    1. Apparently a lot of us have that reaction.

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  22. My hands burn and swell after handling shrimp but I can eat them cooked no problem. I find that I have only a mild reaction to store bought frozen shrimp but an extreme reaction to fresh shrimp. Wonder why?

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  23. This is an eye opener. I have the same allergy to raw shrimp. It's weird and I thought I was a freak or something. No other allergies to other shellfish just raw shrimp. I get it that when they're cooked their chemical composition changes but whatever it is about them when raw it makes me puffy and I too love shrimp. I think my niece and nephew have the same allergy.

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    1. It's really an eye opener to me since I've received so many comments on this post from people who have the same allergy.

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  24. This is an eye opener. I have the same allergy to raw shrimp. It's weird and I thought I was a freak or something. No other allergies to other shellfish just raw shrimp. I get it that when they're cooked their chemical composition changes but whatever it is about them when raw it makes me puffy and I too love shrimp. I think my niece and nephew have the same allergy.

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  25. There is an enzyme present in shrimp that is broken down at about 140 deg F. I have had this issue all my life...it is quite painful if Outback doesn't fully cook a shrimp-on-the-barbie (its happened twice).

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    1. I didn't know about the enzyme, thanks for the info. I only eat shrimp if I cook it myself that way I know it's thoroughly cooked.

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  26. There is an enzyme present in shrimp that is broken down at about 140 deg F. I have had this issue all my life...it is quite painful if Outback doesn't fully cook a shrimp-on-the-barbie (its happened twice).

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  27. My wife cannot peel raw shrimp because her hands swell up. Well, last night I decided to make shrimp ceviche. Ceviche being one of our favorites, usually I make it with thinly sliced geoduck. I didn't really expect a reaction from the shrimp cook in lime juice because I honestly don't know anything about food allergies. After one bite she said her mouth/tongue/throat was itchy and tingly. Now we know better. Apparently cooked in lime juice just isn't cooked enough. We'll stick to geoduck ceviche from now on.

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    1. I've never tried shrimp ceviche and now I probably won't. I think the shrimp has to be cooked in order not to cause a reaction.

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  28. This is an old post; but, I too have the EXACT same allergy! I am allergic to raw and undercooked shrimp, but thoroughly cooked shrimp and I are bEST friends :-)

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    1. Isn't it interesting that so many of us have the same allergy?

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  29. Did you ever determine the cause of this?
    I discovered about 10 years ago I cannot touch raw shellfish, but can eat cooked shellfish not problem. However, I went to dinner the other night and had lobster, and had a reaction. I was wondering if it might have been undercooked, because I didn't have issues with breathing. However, my lips got swollen and itchy and my neck got super red and blotchy.
    Just wondering if anyone has ever experienced something similar. (I also ate shrimp and scallops before that and was fine).

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  30. Did you ever determine the cause of this?
    I discovered about 10 years ago I cannot touch raw shellfish, but can eat cooked shellfish not problem. However, I went to dinner the other night and had lobster, and had a reaction. I was wondering if it might have been undercooked, because I didn't have issues with breathing. However, my lips got swollen and itchy and my neck got super red and blotchy.
    Just wondering if anyone has ever experienced something similar. (I also ate shrimp and scallops before that and was fine).

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    1. Yes, my doctor told me that's it's a mild allergic reaction. She also told me that these allergic reactions can get worse or better over time. So maybe you're becoming more allergic or just more allergic to lobster. I'm also mildly allergic to avocados and bananas. My allergy to avocados has gotten worst over the last couple of years and my mouth, lips and throat itch and burn now when I eat avocados.

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  31. I know it's an old post but I have a similar experience with shrimp. I used to eat it with no problem but around my teen years i started to notice the shrimp that was cooked in lemon juice would make my throat itchy inside and irritate my gums too but I had no problem with the one cooked by heat. By 2009 (I was 18 yo) ingesting shrimp (cooked by any means) would nastily upset my stomach. I'm 24 now and I still cannot consume more than a small piece of cooked shrimp without stomach ache. I used to love shrimps but I have come to accept the fact that my body doesn't agree with it anymore.

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    1. I really like that this post is still getting so many comments. I still eat cooked shrimp but my allergic reaction to avocado has gotten considerably worse over the past few years.

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  32. How great that this post brought so many with the same issue. Cool!

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    1. I never would have guessed that so many had the same issue.

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  33. I have the same allergy! I can eat it, but I can't touch it raw. however I just got it in my eye on accident and its pretty bad.

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    1. Oh yeah I bet that would be bad.

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  34. I have the same allergy! I can eat it, but I can't touch it raw. however I just got it in my eye on accident and its pretty bad.

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  35. I have the exact same problem I just Googled to be sure it wasn't just a mind over matter thing.. I try to avoid handling raw shrimp but whenever I do my hand get very itchy I noticed fresh shrimp is a worse reaction than frozen/peeled shrimp. I don't know it it gas anything to do with the shell but whenever I buy frozen shrimp the I have to deshell myself I get itchy palms with red bumps but if it's frozen and the shells are off they just get itchy while u devein, no bumps just crazy itchy all on my palms and fingers.. fresh shrimp is almost an unbearable as itch...

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    1. I'm really surprised just how many people suffer with this allergy. I had no idea when I wrote this that it would get so many responses. I wear rubber gloves now when I peel shrimp.

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  36. Same thing happens to me, when I peel shrimp I get itchy and swollen, but not when I eat it, you are not alone 😊

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    1. Well at least we all know that we're not alone in this.

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  37. Acouple days ago I tried sushi for the first time, and boy was I surprised. I had a bad reaction where my entire body went numb and tingly for about 48 hours+. Finally stopped this morning after taking multiple Benadryl. It was probably the worse thing I've ever experienced in my life. Not being able to feel anything for that long. But like you guys, I am able to eat cooked shrimp and any other seafood. But apparently raw shrimp or could of been the raw scallops tore me up.

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    1. Now that you know, you know what to avoid. Must have been scary.

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  38. I can have cooked shrimps but not raw, that thing will burn it way down my stomach and I throw up IMMEDIATELY. I can test for under cook shrimps and lobster pretty instantly. Oyster and other non-crustacea are fine.

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    1. Like you, shrimp is the only thing that does this to me. I've never had a problem with other non shrimp raw seafoods either.

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  39. I just realised on my 38th year that I am allergic to raw shrimp. I for the first time in my life touched raw shrimp with bare hands to peel it and it started itching. I've been eating shellfish all my life and nothing happened. This is indeed a strange allergy which I just identified it!!!

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    1. It's strange, right? Glad you know know what it is.

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  40. I have the same allergy. I'm super sensistive to raw shrimp - can't peel them or even touch the bag or sink after someone else has peeled them. If I eat an undercooked shrimp, my mouth and throat swell up within minutes. Glad to see I'm not the only one.

    I once had an oral sensitivty reaction to crab, too--tingling and swelling and itching. I have had extensive allergy testing, and the allergist said I'm definitely not allergic to crustaceans or iodine. "But they make me itch!" I said. He said I'm very allergic to cockroaches, and speculated that every once in a while some similar allergen in my environment might cross-react and trigger a histamine reaction from my body, even though the actual allergen isn't present. It's kind of how people who are allergic to birch pollen can also react to apples and strawberries, even though they may not be directly allergic to them.

    The raw shrimp allergy has been with me my whole life though. Thanks to whomever mentioned the enzyme allergy, where it is deactivated at 140 degrees. Going to research that further!

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    1. I had an allergy test and I didn't test positive for a seafood/crustaceans or iodine either. But I had an MRI with contrast where the contrast dye made me really sick and they said usually only people who are allergic to seafood have a bad reaction to the iodine used in the contrast. So be careful with that too.

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  41. So awesome to find this blog, I have had this problem all my life with touching raw shrimp. Recently my little one touched the ice chest my husband was peeling shrimp from and then touched his neck and broke out in hives within a couple of minutes. So I will avoid feeding him anything with shrimp in it, just in case.

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  42. So awesome to find this blog, I have had this problem all my life with touching raw shrimp. Recently my little one touched the ice chest my husband was peeling shrimp from and then touched his neck and broke out in hives within a couple of minutes. So I will avoid feeding him anything with shrimp in it, just in case.

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    1. So glad you found this post. It's really interesting to see how many people have the same allergy.

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  43. I am currently breaking out in hives. We all ordered shrimp at the restaurant. We think some raw shrimp juice must have been in the plate. Same story. Extreme reaction to raw shrimp but it is literally my favorite food. I just can't cook them or be in the kitchen when my husband does. Shhh. My secret is I ask for shrimp when the kitchen needs a good scrubbing because afterwards my husband scrubs the kitchen so that I don't get accidental contact. Lol

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  44. I have had the same experience... I was like umm does this lady know my life??? I helped my mom peel shrimp as a kid and that's how I knew I was having an allergic reaction to the touch of raw shrimp. I can eat it cooked all day! i literally bought shrimp the other day not thinking it would happen to me again because it's probably been 10 years since I've touched or peel raw shrimp. I ended up breaking out. It's so funny you've gone through the same thing. Lucky you've gone to the doctors because I till this day have not. So thank you because I was like maybe I should google this! Lol

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    1. lol It amazes me still that so many people people have the same allergy that I do. At least you can eat the cooked ones.

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  45. Thanks for the post and the comments. I fish with live shrimp and my hands get a rash, itch and swell. Who knew!! Now I'll totally look like a girl baiting my hook while wearing gloves. Lol

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    1. You're very welcome. I'm glad this post helped you.

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  46. same here... my theory was a tho.. is the slimey coating u feel from the shrimp.. to me it has some sort of ingrediant or bacteria or wutever.. that does that obviously when touched directly.. cuz my coworkers get that to... we work in a shrimp company..so its an everday issue.. even wearing gloves.. that coating touches forearm area aswell... its kinda like how when u eat a pineapple the acidity crackes the tounge and all.. im not a scientist... but this is my theory due with worlinh with shrimp everday.. cuz all my coworkers couldnt have the same allergy

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    1. Thank you. That's interesting info.

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  47. also..many shrimp companys bleach there shrimp.. so the skin irritation cpuld be comeing from that instead of the shrimp itslef... another theory.. almost forgot that one... i work in bubba gump shrimp co.. i defrost, cut, devain, peel,ect.. atleast 4 to 500lbs of shrimp a day...atleast...lol so im pretty confident its not a seafood allergy of anykind... but then again im not a doctor nor scientist

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    1. As I stated above, my doctor told me it was a mild allergic reaction. Your reaction might be caused because you handle so much of it and it causes an irritation. But mine and a lot of others is definitely an allergic reaction.

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  48. my test to prove it was.... as soon as u start itching... rinse with soap and hot water.. u will feel the difference.. its like u washed off some chemical that was on ur skin

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    1. I have done that, a lot of times. I still developed blisters because it's an allergic reaction.

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