Orange allergy: what to do if you have intolerance and diarrhea?

Have diarrhea, rashes, or itching when eating oranges? This could be due to an intolerance or various allergies. It is not uncommon for the peel to be the only problem.

In this article you will learn:

  • what causes it can have if you do not tolerate oranges,
  • when to see a doctor about your symptoms,
  • which tips can help to avoid discomfort.

Why can’t my body tolerate oranges?

Rash, swollen, red or itchy skin or mucous membranes, a runny nose and diarrhea: These are some of the symptoms when you cannot tolerate oranges. The reasons for this are many. Here some examples:

Citrus allergy

When you have an allergy , the immune system turns against substances that are actually harmless. In the case of citrus fruits, which include the orange, this is relatively rare . An orange allergy manifests itself mainly as a tingling sensation in the mouth and swelling. Other possible symptoms are allergic runny nose, sneezing, itchy skin, but also digestive problems such as diarrhea , nausea and vomiting. In severe cases it can even lead to an allergic shock.


Pesticide residues can be found on the skin of conventionally grown fruit and vegetables . As a result, it is possible that you may have an allergic reaction through contact with the orange peel, but that juice and pulp are well tolerated. What you can pay attention to when buying oranges so that you do not develop symptoms, you will find out below.


The peel of oranges and other citrus fruits is often treated with preservatives, which can also cause allergies. For example, if you get a rash after handling oranges, there may be a contact allergy .

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Limonene is a component of many essential oils and not infrequently triggers allergies. The natural fragrance forms oxidation products in the air, which intensify the allergenic effect. Lime is not only found in citrus fruits, but is also found in herbs and spices such as dill, caraway seeds and coriander. Because of its citrus-fresh smell, limonene is also popular in cleaning products, cosmetics, care products and perfumes.

Risk of confusion: Limonen (emphasis on the last syllable) in this article refers to a chemical substance and not the plural of Limone.

The direct contact with skin and mucous membranes can cause irritation or cause contact allergies that manifest themselves, for example, rash, redness, swelling, itching and burning.


Many food allergies arise as a result of a cross reaction: pollen allergy sufferers often cannot tolerate foods that contain proteins that are similar to the allergen in pollen. Common triggers for a cross allergy in tree pollen allergy sufferers are, for example, apples. Citrus fruits, on the other hand, are less likely to cause a cross-reaction.


An intolerance or intolerance to fruit sugar (fructose) is a possible cause of gastrointestinal complaints after eating oranges. These include cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting . Oranges are one of the types of fruit with relatively little fructose . On the other hand, caution is advised with orange juice: the fructose content in juices is often significantly higher.

Suspected orange allergy: when to see a doctor?

If your symptoms are frequent, persistent, particularly severe, or if you suspect an allergy, you should see a doctor. He can use a skin test (skin prick test) or blood test (IgE test) to determine whether you are allergic to food or contact or cross allergies. A doctor is also your first point of contact for a diagnosis of intolerance. It helps if you have kept a food diary for a few weeks. In this way, it is possible to narrow down which foods cause symptoms.

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Orange intolerance: what should I watch out for?

If you develop symptoms after consuming citrus fruits and your doctor has determined a citrus allergy, you should remove citrus fruits from the menu for the time being. In addition to oranges, this also includes:

  • Lemons
  • lime
  • Grapefruit
  • Mandarine
  • Kumquat
  • Pomelo

It is also best to avoid foods that contain oranges or other citrus fruits – such as juices, canned food, or baked goods .

Pure orange juice contains more fructose than whole oranges. If you have an intolerance to fructose, you should avoid the juice in particular.

If, on the other hand, a fructose intolerance is to blame for symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps or nausea, it may well be that you can tolerate the relatively low-fructose oranges, but are sensitive to juices . Please read our article on fructose intolerance .

Avoid allergic symptoms from oranges

If you only have problems coming into contact with the orange peel , you may be allergic to the essential oils or the lime they contain. In this case, you may still be able to tolerate the pulp and juice. On the other hand, you should look carefully at the label of cleaning products, cosmetics and perfumes so as not to unconsciously expose yourself to limonene.

As mentioned above, it is also possible that you cannot tolerate pesticides or preservatives on the peel of oranges from conventionally grown oranges. Instead, grab organic oranges and monitor your symptoms.

Even without allergies, you should refrain from using the peel of surface-treated oranges or lemons for the preparation of food. Use only organically grown products.

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In order to keep the absorption of potentially harmful substances such as pesticides and preservatives as low as possible, the Bavarian Consumer Service even recommends washing surface-treated citrus fruits with hot water before peeling and washing your hands after touching the peel before processing the pulp .

To treat allergy symptoms from oranges, you can use antiallergic drugs . There are oral medications that inhibit your body’s immune response to allergens, such as relieving allergic rhinitis or sneezing.

Ointments containing cortisone usually help against skin reactions such as rashes and itching , and in particularly bad cases there are oral medicines containing cortisone.

Desensitization may be helpful to reduce your body’s sensitivity to certain allergens . Let your doctor advise you which treatment is best for your case.

Orange allergy: what to do if you have intolerance and diarrhea?

If you cannot digest oranges and react with a rash, itching, runny nose or even diarrhea, a citrus allergy may be to blame. In this case, you’d better avoid oranges and other citrus fruits.

However, it is also possible that you develop symptoms simply by touching the shell. Then a contact allergy or intolerance to pesticides, preservatives or the fragrance contained in the peel called limonene comes into question. Avoid contact with the peel and use organic fruits that must not be treated with pesticides and preservatives.

Allergic reactions can be combated with antiallergic drugs . If you mainly suffer from diarrhea, fructose intolerance is also an option. However, since oranges contain little fructose, this is more likely to manifest itself in the consumption of orange juice, which often has a higher fructose content.

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