Read below about itchy mouth, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your itchy mouth from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

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Itchy Mouth Symptoms

Even though being "itchy" is a symptom of many ailments, you probably never expected to find your mouth feeling that way. However, an itchy mouth is not uncommon in cases of allergy or irritation, and is just one of the body's ways of letting you know that you may be eating something that could be harmful to you.

"Itchy mouth" is more officially known as oral allergy syndrome, or sometimes as pollen-food syndrome.

Characteristics:

  • A strange, itchy, tingling sensation inside the mouth, also involving the lips, tongue, throat, and roof of the mouth.
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat.
  • An itchy mouth often includes itchy ear canals as well.
  • An unusual taste in the mouth.

Duration:

  • Symptoms usually do not last for more than about five to 20 minutes.
  • The symptoms will stop if you simply take the food out of your mouth.
  • If you do eat the food, the symptoms disappear once your stomach has digested it and the troublesome proteins have been broken down.

Who is most often affected by itchy mouth?

  • Young children are rarely affected.
  • Oral allergy syndrome usually first shows up in older children, teenagers, or young adults, even though they may have been eating the foods in question for years with no problem.
  • These allergies may get progressively worse as you get older.

When is itchy mouth most likely to occur?

  • Symptoms usually begin quickly, within minutes of eating the problematic foods.
  • In rarer cases, hours may go by before symptoms occur.

Is itchy mouth serious?

  • Mild reactions usually do not progress beyond the head and might include runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and dry cough.
  • With somewhat stronger reactions, there may also be reddened, swollen, itchy patches called hives showing up anywhere on the skin. You might also experience upset stomach with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • A reaction that seems mild at first, but rapidly intensifies, can quickly become a life-threatening medical emergency.

Itchy Mouth Causes Overview

  • An itchy mouth means that you are not just allergic to the fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, seeds, or even spices that you're eating. It means you are actually allergic to the pollen of certain wild trees and plants – usually birch trees, grasses, and ragweed.
  • The food in question has similar proteins to the pollen, thus your immune system reacts to the food the same way it reacts to the pollen – producing an itchy mouth and throat, and other allergy symptoms. Very ripe fruits and vegetables may provoke a stronger reaction than those that are less ripe.
  • Being outside where there is pollen that you're allergic to, and then eating one of the foods that causes your symptoms, can cause a severe and sudden reaction.
  • Exercising can make the allergic effect happen almost immediately upon eating the offensive food.
  • Drinking alcohol can also intensify the symptoms.

If you are allergic to birch tree pollen (the most common allergen that causes an itchy mouth,) you may have a reaction if you eat:

  • Apples.
  • Peaches.
  • Pears.
  • Plums.
  • Cherries.
  • Kiwifruit.
  • Carrots.
  • Celery.
  • Hazelnuts.
  • Almonds.

If you are allergic to grass pollen, you may have a reaction if you eat:

  • Oranges.
  • Peaches.
  • Melons.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Celery.

If you are allergic to ragweed pollen, you may have a reaction if you eat:

  • Melons.
  • Bananas.
  • Cucumbers.

2 Potential Itchy Mouth Causes

Disclaimer: The article does not replace an evaluation by a physician. Information on this page is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes.

  1. 1.Cold Sore

    Cold sores (also called oral herpes or fever blisters), are viral infections of the mouth caused by the herpes virus type 1. You were probably infected very early in life as a child when an adult kissed you. The virus stays asleep (dormant) and causes infections every now and then after exposure to lots of sun or emotional/physical stress. It is contagious when an outbreak is happening, but treatment is limited unless you are immunocompromised.

    1-2 weeks. Natural healing process starts within 24 hours of the initial sore starting.

    Rarity:
    Uncommon
    Top Symptoms:
    mouth lesions, itchy mouth, pain on the outside of the lips, lip numbness, burning pain on the outside of the lips
    Symptoms that always occur with cold sore:
    mouth lesions
    Urgency:
    Self-treatment

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  2. 2.Anaphylaxis

    Anaphylaxis is the sudden onset of breathing or heart rate changes that are caused by a whole-body allergic reaction. This can be a deadly situation.

    Indefinite

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    nausea or vomiting, headache, stomach bloating, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps), being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Emergency medical service

Itchy Mouth Treatments and Relief

Seek immediate treatment in the emergency room or call 911 if you have any sign of the severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis:

Schedule an appointment for:

  • A first-time reaction, even if it seems mild. This is because it may be the first sign of sensitization to the food in question and may become much more severe the next time you eat the same food.
  • Ongoing mild reactions, since they can interfere with quality of life and possibly become severe later on.

Remedies that you can try at home:

  • Avoiding the foods that seem to cause the reaction is one solution, of course.
  • Peeling fresh fruit is sometimes helpful in avoiding symptoms.
  • Cooking the offending fruits and vegetables will usually alter the proteins found in them so that they no longer trigger the allergy. Most of the time, you can still enjoy things like vegetable soup, applesauce, and fruit pie.

FAQs About Itchy Mouth

Here are some frequently asked questions about itchy mouth.

Can allergies cause an itchy mouth?

Oral allergy syndrome or pollen-food allergy syndrome can cause mild swelling or itching of the mouth and throat after eating raw fruits, nuts, or vegetables. The symptoms result from a contact rash on the throat. If you begin to have an itchy mouth, you should consider visiting an emergency department. An itchy mouth is often the first sign of an allergic reaction in which an individual loses his or her ability to normally breath as their windpipe closes.

What does persistent itchy mouth mean?

Persistent itchy mouth may be a sign of oral allergy syndrome or allergy flares. It is most commonly triggered by foods, but can also be triggered by pollen. If you have asthma or severe food allergies, you may need to carry a dose of epinephrine (an Epipen) to treat emergent allergic reactions. If your itchy mouth persists you should speak with your primary care provider.

What foods can lead to an itchy mouth?

Many foods can lead to an itchy mouth. Fruits and tree nuts like apples, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, pears, and almonds as well as vegetables like carrots, celery, coriander, and nuts like soybeans and peanut butter can cause itchy mouths. However, almost any food can cause an allergic reaction.

Can a sinus infection cause an itchy mouth?

Usually, a sinus infection does not cause an itchy mouth. A wound in the mouth that is healing causes an itching sensation while it heals. A sinus infection can cause pain or pressure on the sinuses of the face, congestion, and even drainage of pus from the nose. If you suspect a sinus infection, see a medical professional for diagnosis.

Do yeast infections cause an itchy mouth?

Yeast infections may cause an itchy mouth. Yeast infections are common in small children who have not yet fully developed their immune systems. For adults, a candida infection within the mouth can be a sign of a much more serious infection that causes the immune system to stop functioning — in this case, you should seek medical attention.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Itchy Mouth

  • Q.Do you have a rash?
  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Do you currently smoke?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, try our itchy mouth symptom checker to find out more.

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Itchy Mouth Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced itchy mouth have also experienced:

    • 6% Frequent Sneezing
    • 6% Congestion
    • 5% Tickle in Throat
  • People who have experienced itchy mouth had symptoms persist for:

    • 41% Less Than a Day
    • 28% Less Than a Week
    • 14% Over a Month
  • People who have experienced itchy mouth were most often matched with:

    • 26% Anaphylaxis
    • 7% Cold Sore
  • Source: Aggregated and anonymized results from visits to the Buoy AI health assistant (check it out by clicking on “Take Quiz”).

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