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Can My Child Have A Reaction, Touching A Nut In It's Shell?

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If my child has a tree nut allergy, can they have an allergic reaction if they touch a nut that's still in the shell? (for example, pecans that have fallen out of a pecan tree)

This is a great question. It is unlikely that your child will experience a reaction from this type of exposure to a tree nut in its shell. If a reaction does happen, it's typically a topical skin reaction. This happens where the tree nut touches the skin. There could be some tree nut allergen on the shell. This skin reaction could include localized redness, itching, and mild swelling.

Less commonly, a more serious reaction could happen. This is if there is tree nut allergen on the shell and your child puts their hands in their mouth before thoroughly cleaning their hands. This oral ingestion of a relevant tree nut allergen (e.g., pecan) could trigger an allergic reaction.  

The most practical and safest thing to do is avoid touching these nuts in a shell.

Food Allergy, Tree Nut Allergy
Answered by

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.

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