Coconut allergy 101 - everything you need to know to stay safe. Includes a list of common coconut symptoms, hidden sources of coconut in your life, and what you need to avoid to not have a reaction.
Coconut allergies are one of the more rare allergies and they are officially grouped in with tree nut allergies. As such, labeling in the US requires coconut be listed if included in the ingredients. However, more so than almost any other allergy, the coconut is one of the most insidious of allergies in how pervasive coconut has become in our food, healthy care, beauty routines, and home cleaning products under different names so to avoid having to mark the label with a coconut warning.
This article walks you through all aspects of what is a coconut allergy, symptoms, what to avoid, what you can still enjoy, and how best to manage your coconut allergy.
What is a Coconut Allergy?
A coconut is the fruit of a coconut palm tree found all over the globe in warm tropical environments. They are not a tree nut or a nut at all, despite the “nut” found in their name. As stated above, the US FDA classifies a coconut allergy as a tree nut allergy. If you have a tree nut allergy, it is possible you could also be allergic to coconuts.
The coconut meat and coconut oil can be found in any number of items of daily life. Food wise, coconut oil is often found in baked goods, infant formula, milks, chocolates, cookies, sauces, and alcohols. Further, coconut is found in many items like make up, body wash, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, all purpose cleaners, dish soaps, laundry detergents, and more.
Allergic reactions to eating coconut are pretty rare, however, contact allergic reactions to coconut are more common. So, if you are able to eat things with coconut in them, you might not be able to touch and use things with coconut.
I myself am severely allergic to coconut, in all forms. Even small particles in the air cause me to have an anaphylactic reaction. This has led me to learning how to do everything from make my own shampoo, all purpose cleaner, make my own face soap and moisturizer, and even my own hand soap.
If you are a fellow coconut allergic person, please leave a comment! I’d love to chat with another coconut allergic person!
Most children and adults will develop an allergic reaction either immediately, a few minutes, or as long as a few hours after coming into contact with coconut. Remember, some people are so allergic to foods that even touching the food or smelling the food can cause a reaction.
A list of probable reactions includes:
- Swelling, itching, or irritation of the mouth, lips, tongue, or throat
- Asthma attacks
- Eczema on the skin
- Hives, itching rash of the skin
- Nasal congestion
- Difficulty breathing
- Cramping and/or pain of the stomach or bowels
- Anaphylactic reaction
For some people, a life threatening reaction known as an anaphylactic reaction may occur after consuming, touching, or smelling coconut or coconut by-products. If this happens, please call 911 or your local emergency number immediately. Signs and symptoms of this include:
- Swelling or tightening of the throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain or tightness
- Trouble swallowing
- Dizziness or fainting
- Change of normal coloring of the skin
- for light skin, check for signs of dark blue tints in the mucous membranes (inner lips, gums, around the eyes, and nail beds)
- for medium skin, check for signs of a gray-green tint in the mucous membranes
- for dark skin, check for signs of gray or white tint in the mucous membranes
How to Manage
The best way to manage your coconut allergy is to avoid any and all forms of coconut and coconut by-products.
If after some time you feel you would like to test and see if you are still allergic to coconuts, consult your doctor and ask about doing a challenge test to gauge your reaction under the supervision of your doctor.
It is super important taht you only do challenge testing with a doctor present as coconut is considered a tree allergy - one of the more dangerous allergies to have.
Need to find coconut free body products? Check out these articles!
Safety at School + Work
If your child has a coconut allergy, make sure to let both the school and their individual teachers know of their allergy. Any medication they might need, including an EpiPen if the reaction is severe, needs to be kept at the school in case of emergencies.
In elementary school, when they have assigned seating, it is easier to maintain a clean workspace for your child. As they go through middle and high school and beyond, make sure to have them wipe down the desk before they use it as there could be oils on the desk after someone ate a granola bar, for example.
The most dangerous moments for your child will be during school parties when parents bring in sweet treats to celebrate. You must teach your child that they can’t participate in these events no matter how good the cupcake (or whatever the treat is) looks because we don’t know if it’s safe.
Another dangerous moment is at the lunch table. While you might pack a safe lunch for your kid, there is no guarantee that they don’t swap foods to share with friends at the table. This is another thing you need to teach your kids not to do.
In a work environment, you should inform your coworkers of your allergy and ask them to not eat coconut around you or your workspace, especially if your allergy is severe and anaphylactic. Making sure to wipe down surfaces is again important.
Learning how to read food labels is one of the most important things you can do after developing a coconut allergy. Always make sure that you read the entire label and not just quickly scan for coconut as ingredients can hide under different names.
Sometimes companies will place advisory statements on their label to say things such as, “May Contain” or “Produced in the same facility as…”. These are not required by law but are placed there at the discretion of the company. Talk with your doctor about whether you should avoid these food labels as well.
In general, I tend to avoid any and all food products that list my own allergies on these advisory statements. You never know if one day cleaning the machines, an allergen was totally washed away or not. I err on the side of caution with my health and suggest you do the same.
What to Avoid
When looking at a food label, make sure that the ingredient list does not contain any of the following items. The list of foods to avoid is long, and while I’ve done my best to include them all here, I am sure there are more being made and discovered each day. If you know of an allergy name that I’ve missed, write it in the comments below and I’ll be sure to add it to the list!
- Coconut milk
- Coconut water
- Coconut oil
- Coconut cream
- Coconut milk powder
- Coconut sugar
- Coconut amino acids
Hidden Names of Coconut
The most difficult part of a coconut allergy is how pervasive its use has become in goods that you don’t eat. Make up, shampoos, hand soaps, laundry detergents, and so many other products will now be off limits to you because of this allergy.
It sucks. I’m sorry. I’m right there with you.
Here is a list of chemicals and other names of ingredients that you need to avoid as they are all derivatives of the coconut.
- 1 2 Octanediol
- 2 Phenoxyethanol
- Activated Charcoal (often derived from the coconut husks, make sure you don't use a water filter with charcoal without contacting the company for sourcing info)
- Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate
- Capryl Glycol
- Caprylic Acid
- Caprylic Glycol
- Cetearyl Alcohol
- Cetearyl Glucoside
- Ceteth-20 Phosphate
- Cetyl Alcohol
- Cetyl Esters
- Cocamide DEA / Coconut diethanolamide / diethanolamine / acid / CDEA – Other names for it: Calamide, Ninol, Witcamide
- Cocamide MEA
- Cocamide Sulphate
- Cocamidopropyl Betaine / CAPB / cocamidopropylbetaine / Lauramidopropyl betaine – * N-(carboxy methyl)-N, N-dimethyl-3-[(1-oxococonut) amino]-1-propanaminium hydroxide *, inner salt, source Tegobetaine L7, Cocoyl amide propyldimethyl glycine, coconut oil amidopropyl betaine source
- Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine – WiseGEEK says some manufacturers are replacing CAPB with this and that they claim it’s milder and more effective. I have no idea.
- Coco glucoside
- Coconut oil – Another name: cocos nucifera
- Coir (matting) – Contains coconut husks
- Decyl Glucoside – I have seen it listed on products as corn-derived, but it’s produced by the reaction of glucose from corn starch with the fatty alcohol decanol which is derived from coconut.
- Disodium Cocamphodiprop
- Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate
- Emusifying Wax
- Glyceryl Caprylate
- Glyceryl Cocoate
- Hexyl Laurate
- Isopropyl Myristate
- Lauryl Glucoside
- Lauryl Alcohol
- Lauramide DEA
- Myristic Acid
- Lauric Acid
- Olefin Sulfonate
- Organic Sodium Cocoate
- PEG – 7 Glyceryl Cocoate
- PEG -100
- PEG – 100 Stearate
- Polysorbate 20
- Sodium Cocoate
- Sodium Coco-Sulfate
- Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate
- Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate
- Sucrose Stearate
- Sodium Lauroamphoacetate
- Sodium Laureth Sulfate
- Sodium Lauroyl Sarcosinat / Sodium Lauroyl Sarconsinate – I thought about adding ammonium lauroyl sarcosinate to the list, but I couldn’t find a source to confirm it. I just assume it would also be coconut-derived.
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
- Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate
- Sodium Myreth Sulfate
- Sodium Stearate
- Sorbitan Stearate
- Stearyl Alcohol
- Stearalkonium chloride
- Sucrose Cocoate
- Sucrose Stearate
- TEA-Laureth Sulfate
- Vegetable Cetearyl Glucos / Vegetable Cetearyl Glucose
- Vegetable Glycerine – Can be coconut or soy based. Make sure you check with the company.
Want to download this list? Check out my free printable for coconut allergies so you are always prepared for reading ingredients no matter where you are!
Hidden Places for Coconut
It’s also important that you avoid coconut in home décor. Right now, it is popular to have coconut bowls, coconut roping and macramé, and even coconut utensils. While they are a good eco-friendly option for the planet, they are not good for us with coconut allergies. When purchasing a bowl, for example, please make sure you ensure it is not from a coconut tree.
Also, you want to make sure that if you purchase any new cast iron cookware, the oil used to coat the cast iron is not coconut oil.
- Perfumes are a place where coconut can hide.
- Make up
- Body paint around Halloween time
- Activated Charcoal in health care products
- Activated Charcoal in water filters
After developing or discovering your coconut allergy, how you eat and how you live is very likely going to change. Cooking from home is one of the safest options for you and your family as you can ensure non allergens come into contact with your food, and thus, not cross contamination. Make sure your diet is filled with simple whole foods, such as meats, grains, vegetables, fruits, beans, and lentils.
Living with allergies has gotten so much better in the past few years thanks to the requirements of labeling all food in grocery stores, as well as the sheer quantity of allergy free alternatives available in most stores.
As for what I use to clean, this is an ever evolving list. You can read how I make my own skincare routine, how I make my own handsoap here. Make sure you check out my 3 ingredient shampoo article! Coconut allergies are something I’m very passionate about as it’s so difficult to live life with one.
For a list of my favorite coconut alternatives, and when each will work best in what recipes, make sure you grab a download of my free Food Swap Guide! It’s filled with over 45 swaps and substitutions so you can keep making your favorite recipes with your allergies.
How to Dine Out
While not the biggest change to your life with a coconut allergy, there are some new considerations to make from the options available to you when dining out. No longer can you just go grab a quick bite to eat, nor will you be able to freely eat at a friend’s house.
The best way to avoid (or at least try to avoid) getting sick at restaurants is to research ahead of time. Most restaurants post their menus online, which gives me a chance to figure out if this restaurant would be a safe option. Even if the menu says “allergy friendly” you still should research, because it is really difficult to ensure that a chef or kitchen will wipe off any surfaces, open new bags of ingredients, or even use a different set of gloves when preparing food.
For coconut allergies in general, you want to be wary of Vegan and Asian inspired cuisine as they both rely heavily on coconut to flavor things. Candy coatings in places like ice cream and frozen yogurt stores are also of concern. When in doubt, call the company or restaurant and talk with them about your allergies and how you can be safe when enjoying their food.
When dining at a friend’s house, I will always ask if I can bring an option that is coconut allergy safe.
Note: All recipes on this blog are coconut free and you are safe making and enjoying any one of them.
Have other allergies?
Some of my favorite coconut free recipes!
Energy Bites (coconut free, gluten free, top 14 free)
Hypoallergenic Hand soap (top 14 free, coconut free)
Sun Butter Cups (coconut free, top 14 free)
Did you enjoy this article?
Pop over to the Facebook Page to share your story or tag me over on Instagram with the hashtag #livingbeyondallergies I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this!
Stephanie Alcee says
Thanks for the info. I'm going to save this. I have tons of allergies but coconut is my newest and one of the more uncomfortable ones. Full body pruritus for almost a week (exacerbated at night) while on steroids and extra antihistamines. Almost every hair and skin product I use has it in it. This is going to be a tough transition.
Hi Stephanie! I’m so sorry to hear that things have escalated in your allergies. I’ve totally been there too with hives all over and having to hunt down the triggers. If you have any questions, or just need to vent it out with someone, don’t hesitate to email me! I’ve got some updates coming soon to the coconut free product page as well, so keep an eye out for those.
Luis ramirez says
I had a weird reaction to eating coconut meat. My lips got a bit swollen and a bit itchy, My hands got a bit itchy as well. These seem to be symptoms of an allergy. The weird thing about it is I bought the coconut earlier in the day and drank the water with no problem. I will also occasionally buy canned coconut water and have no problems at all. Is it possible to be allergic to the meat and not the water?
Hi Luis! That is a puzzle, for sure. My first question would be if there was something else that the coconut meat was in contact with that caused a cross reaction. If it was manufactured or shipped with other things that are allergens for you, that could explain it. It could also be that the coconut water was diluted with other ingredients so you didn’t get as much of an exposure to the coconut. But above all else, if you think you have developed a new allergy to coconut, you should see your allergist to get tested in a safe environment and avoid coconut until you have this confirmed with your doctor.
Thank you very much for that list!!! When it was finally figured out that I was dealing with a bad coconut allergy, I started researching what comes from coconut! Came across your list, checked mine with yours, merged and printed it out. It's been in my purse for a few years now and has saved me from wasting money on stuff I'd have to trash and has saved me from having some bad reactions!
Just want to let you know that I've been seeing in my continuing search for safe stuff, a potential problem product. Coconut fiber and or coconut charcoal being made into or put into fabric. The charcoal can be put into fabric and make it into an antimicrobial fabric. I haven't fully found what name it's sold under.
I have found that the fabric called Lyocell, brand name Tencel, and Modal fabric can be made from birch, beech, bamboo, soy, seaweed, coconut, oak, and eucalyptus. 😉 So, if skin is having a reaction, it may not be the product you used, but just the cloths you'd picked to wear.
Wow that is good to know about fabric now including coconut fibers. I will really look into that and see what else I can find. If you have any links to articles or anything, please email me so that I can add some more info to this article. It's amazing how many things coconut is sneaking in!!
Dyan Jolly says
Found out almost three years ago that I had a coconut allergy. We made popcorn in coconut oil, then added salt. Had a reaction. Itchy throat, difficulty breathing, it was awful. Was quickly fixed with allergy pills and my inhaler for asthma though. My skin has always been itchy after showers so I started looking into soap/shampoo ingredients. Could not believe how many of my regular products contained some form of coconut. The list of hidden coconut products/names, is great! I'm taking it to my local bath store that makes homemade soaps to ask if they can do something special for me.
Wow thank you for sharing your story! It always amazes me how many items have coconut in them. Please let me know how the local soap company works out. I'd love to add another place for safe shopping!
I have always had a severe allergy to fragrance and developed into having a severe coconut allergy. It seems now like anything that is fragrance free is loving of coconut. It makes for a hard life. I wish I could find a good hair care product that didn't have either in it!
Hi there! I'm so happy you've found LBA with your coconut allergy. There are a lot of coconut articles here on the blog to help navigate the finding of coconut free products so please take a look at those. And don't hesitate to reach out with any questions or if you find a great coconut free product! I'm always updating with fresh things and we're a great community here where we all understand about having to live with allergies. 🙂
I feel your pain in wanting good coconut free hair product!! Finding myself very sensitive to coconut, I've struggled with this too. I found this company...the shampoo was good, but needs to be ph balanced a bit....
...All the clean kids products had been listed as coconut free, but are not listed that way right now. When I'd called them at the end of last year about this, I was told that they are getting them certified as being coconut free. I'm waiting until it says so on the product and didn't get a new stock pile of it yet. Please verify with them before buying that this is indeed true and that they are still coconut free.
I am so happy to find a site with so much information! I have a severe coconut allergy. It is in EVERYTHING! I have given up on makeup because of this allergy. I recently found a website listing cosmetic ingredients that contain derivatives. It lists what are safe as well. It seems like Neurtogena has the biggest coconut free selection. The site/app is called Skin Safe. I find it helpful. It is nice to see other people who know they have the allergy. It took me 25 years to find out about the derivatives in my many cosmetics!
I'm so happy that you are here as well! Yes, coconut it feels like it is in everything. I've used Skin Safe before but always be careful as sometimes they list things as safe that do have coconut in them. Just always read the labels and never be afraid to reach out to a company to confirm an ingredient. Again, so happy that you found this and know that you are not alone in this allergy!
Twyla Balentine says
I am newly diagnosed with coconut allergy at 57 years old. I have always been able to eat and use anything I wanted to up until just a few months ago. I am finding it very difficult to find skin care and household products without some form of coconut. My problem is I have multiple food and chemical allergies. When I find one that does not contain coconut, it may have balsam of Peru, fragrance, beeswax, Almonds, or one of my other allergens.
The contact allergens are so frustrating!
But the food allergies are downright scary! I can’t have chicken, cow milk, eggs, any nuts, any of the seafoods, black pepper, garlic, and a host of vegetables!
Hoping allergy shots to pollens will help with cross allergies to vegetables and fruits.
It seems with restaurants you can’t just ask for menu without your allergens, you must be VERY CLEAR you are ALLERGIC and show them your epi pen for them to take you seriously.
Happy to have found your site.
Thank you for being here! Yes, it is sometimes scary and a lot of times frustrating (especially at first) when dealing with food allergies. Wishing you luck with the allergy shots to help calm things down. As for restaurants, I have a few around my house that are pretty allergy safe and they have gotten to know me over the years so they are the best. Otherwise I cook at home for almost everything. Have a look at my coconut product guide and see if you can find something there to help.
What are some of the foods you get when you do dine out?
I like to stick to places where I am less likely to have a cross contamination reaction. So dealing with a seafood allergy, I don't eat at places like Red Lobster. Or for peanut allergies, I avoid Thai food in restaurants. Sandwich shops, burgers, pizza and Italian places, and BBQ places all are usually a safer place for me to eat! But before I go anywhere, I always check the menu online and call if I have any questions. Places are a lot more understanding now about food allergies than they were when I was a kid. And I know that I can't prevent everything. So I always carry my medication with me and am with people (friends, family) who know what to do if a serious reaction occurs. And finally, I am really big on dinner parties at my place! That way I can ensure nothing is food I'm allergic to.
What kind of Laundry detergent do you use?
For my full laundry routine in much more detail, please check out this article I did on hypoallergenic laundry care! As of right now, I'm using Tide Free and don't seem to be having issues with it. I also use white vinegar for a fabric softener and use nothing in the dryer. I've switched to drying a lot of my clothes just hang drying.
Miranda H says
I found out I was allergic to coconut about 6-7 years ago. It’s been so annoying to deal with only for the fact of how common it is in everything. I get a reaction more if I eat it but there has been a couple situations where it was in a chapstick and that caused really bad problems for my face. My mom & sister are so helpful with my allergy, I feel like others are more cautious about it than I am.
Reading this article made me so happy & feel more informed on my allergy. Really looking forward to making the hand soap!
That is so amazing to hear that your family is supportive and cautious about your allergies! And yeah, they sneak coconut into everything! I'm so glad that this helped you feel informed. Let me know how the soap making goes!
I didn't figure out I was allergic to coconut until my mid-20's through process of elimination as I would tend to get sick (nauseous, headaches, itchy throat, etc) when I ate gummy candy. I noticed a recurring theme of coconut oil being used. I don't like the taste of coconut so I had never bothered to eat it before. However the prevalence of it being used in everything now has become a nightmare. I have to read the labels on everything I eat or use now and even as diligent as I am I still have incidents of missing it constantly. Thank you for the list of possible derivatives as I would have never known. I know it's an uncommon allergy, but it is almost impossible to avoid it totally.
I'm so happy that you've found this list of coconut derivatives useful! It's so absurd how many things now have coconut, everything from cleaning products, body care products, heck even my dog's food had some added to the ingredients! It's a challenging allergy but it is easier with time. Like you, I read labels on everything and if I'm not sure, I don't take the chance. And this is a community effort so if you find a new hidden name for coconut, please let me know so I can add it to the list!
Dr Liz says
As an early nod to the Environmentalists lobby in early 1980's, I studied PEG's and their biodegradation as motor oils for speed boats and lawn mowers in my BSc dissertation.
Beware Vegetable Glycerine if a vegan - I came to this site to sooth feminine itch, so was shocked at list of by-products that might explain my "itch" in the first place?.
Dr Enöböng Liz Okokon
Dr Liz says
Our very religious Afrikan Caribbean family members felt we were just being fussy and indulged by our parents or it was "the devil's work" to fear Natural foods, particularly those "from Home" like Coconut - not so easy to obtain in 1970's London.
Now I face the same issues with hair dressers or masseurs
"You are not going to eat it" has loss me more Hair than I care to remember from the wrong products being used on my hair or skin as Coconut Allergies are as much about touch, smell and taste.
Dr Liz says
Smelling coconut - growing up in an Afrikan & Caribbean family was a nightmare for me. Every Saturday the house was Filled with the SMELL of Coconut - as my Mum baked for Church and Family events for Sunday.
Although both my Parents were Medics and fully aware of the dangers of Allergic Reactions, they too didn't appreciate how the meer Smell of Coconut made my skin crawl with hives (even Now the "thought" of the smell !!)
Wow, yes that would be really difficult to have a coconut allergy when it is such a large part of your culture! And like you said, coconut seems to be in everything and is hard to trace when listed as "vegetable glycerin" or other hidden names on products. Thank you so much for sharing your story!
Peg Ebert says
Hi- I had 3 anaphylactic episodes and when tested, learned I’m allergic to coconut. I’ve had allergies all my life but just became allergic to coconut (I’m 68).
Since I learned it was coconut I have been good but I carry my epi pen and meds. My concern is I will be traveling to Malaysia, Sri Lanka and India in December. They use coconut in my foods. What is the best thing for me to do?
Hi there! Those places can be tricky to travel to for sure since they use so much coconut in food. I would suggest checking out my traveling with food allergies article where I talk about international travel. https://www.livingbeyondallergies.com/traveling-with-food-allergies/ I would suggest carrying your epi pen and meds at all times. Make up some notecards in various regional languages explaining your coconut allergy and asking what is safe to eat at restaurants. And visit grocery stores so that you can purchase simple foods like fruit, veggies, bread etc, that are safe. Talk with your doctor about your travels and see if they have any medications you can take on the road. And don't forget to see where the hospitals are closest to where you are staying, just in case! Best of luck traveling!
Hi! I have a severe coconut allergy! I've had it since I was a baby. Couldn't have normal formula or anything. To this day I still have to avoid anything that has it. I hate right now because people are starting to use coconut and I always have a hard time breathing. I really love your website! It's so hard for people to understand my allergy because most people think it's either the one thing or the other. I have more of a hard time finding shampoo, I plan to look at yours! Thank you for sharing this!
Hi there! Thank you so much! I totally know how you feel with coconut in so many products now a days. It can make life a challenge for sure! I just found a new company who does coconut free products called "Clean Kids Naturally". They make a coconut free shampoo! Give them a look and let me know. I haven't tried them yet.
"Clean Kid's Naturally" products work great! Yet, the shampoo needs to be ph balanced a bit (mix with apple cider vinegar or other safe vinegar until ph is 5.5 or 6).
However, the company pulled the coconut free label from their products recently. When I'd called them, they told me that they are in the process of getting them certified as being coconut free. At this time, please call before buying this product to make sure it's still safe!
Ah, interesting. I'll make a note of that in the article so that people can see. Thanks!
Thank you so much for the ingredients list! My coconut allergy has gotten worse over the years and it feels like it just keeps ramping up. It's sooo surprising how much coconut there is in things.
You mentioned reaching out to the company to see where they source a certain ingredient. How do you go about doing this?
Thank you again!
You are so welcome!! Yes, coconut is in everything, I swear. I’m working on a new article for coconut free products so keep a look out for that!
Reaching out to companies I first see if they have chat or email or a phone to contact them. I’ve even reached out over DM on Instagram! I usually say something like, “Hi I’m Laura and I would love to use ____ product of yours but I’m super allergic to coconut and coconut derived ingredients. Can you clarify ingredient x, y, and z for me? Are they sourced from coconut or something else like soy? I specifically need to know so I don’t have a severe reaction. Thank you so much, I really appreciate any help you can give me!”
Sometimes companies are really good about understanding allergies and other times they don’t quite understand how severe they can be. But it never hurts to ask. And if they can’t give me a clear answer, I try to find another company that will. Or if there isn’t another company with a similar product, I have waited a week and reached out again to try a different person on their customer support team.
Andrea Hagler says
I too am allergic…it started with my shampoo and my head started having wounds that would bleed so I changed shampoo and thought nothing of it. Then a few yrs later I went to a Christmas party and they were serving “Pain killer” drinks…I only had 3 small ones and the next am I was pooping blood and had to go to the Er for fluids because I was so sick. A few mths later and more issues I was allergy tested and that is what popped up. The following Christmas we went back to same party and I asked what the ingredients were and it was literally all coconut. 🤦🏼♀️ After that my reaction time to it has gotten faster and faster…I’m now down to 2 min if I accidentally ingest it. It sucks that it’s in literally everything. I’ve tried the Clean kids naturally line and it’s pretty good but it messes with my hair tangling after a few mths. So I have to take a break from it. But I love the conditioner…it smells like yummy bananas. And of course it’s in gummy worms and bears…and I loved those as a kid/adult but never could figure out why they hurt my stomach so bad…. Haha! They also lace most store bought ice creams with it too.
Kate Johnston says
I have had an allergy to Coconut for most of my life. Had not had a reaction, until a few years ago, when I took a handful of "bugels" like a corn chip. Woke up next morning, with swollen lips and tongue . I took an allergy pill and swelling went down within a few hours. So I guess I am still allergic. Going on a cruise this October 69 days, Hawaii
to the south pacific and then onto Australia. The ship has assured me they can handle
me not having coconut on board, but what about off ship? Should I just carry an epi-pen with me everywhere or is their an allergy pill that you could suggest? Non-sleepy
if possible. thanks
Hi Kate! I would really ask your doctor if an Epi Pen is the right choice for you. If you have had anaphylactic reactions, then yes, you for sure need one! If you are given one, yes, you need to carry it with you every where. I keep mine in my purse so it is always by my side. You never know when you will encounter your allergens and you need to always be prepared. For off ship visiting port cities, I would research places a head of time so you know what restaurants are safe, what types of food you should avoid, things of that nature. And bring your own safe soaps and shampoos so you know you don't get sick! I'm working on a big series of traveling with food allergies, so I'll be sure to reply to your comment again when they are available to read.
carina eves-down says
I use fexofenadine which is slightly stronger than normal but you can take like up to 5 or so in a day if needed. 4 a day is what i was on to combat my chronic itchy mouth which we believe is from my coconut allergy (even though the test say negative, it still makes me vomit if eaten and tongue swell and mouth itchy if in my lip balms or food etc - hard time finding a coconut free toothpast atm!!) I would try asking the DR for this or see if its over the counter?
I haven't gotten sleeping on it 🙂
hope you have a great time!
My patch test for my eczema came up with Cocamidopropyl Betaine as one of my biggest allergens, I'm noticing flare ups now and again when I eat a meal that had a lot of coconut milk in. It might just be a coincidence but I am going to try to avoid eating coconut products and see if it makes any difference.
It could totally be an allergy triggering your eczema. I know that when my allergies are acting up, or if I didn't have them under control because of a new one, my eczema also would flare. Fingers crossed that by avoiding coconut you are able to help calm your skin! Good luck!
I have never been formally tested for a coconut allergy, but my reactions started happening with chapstick(swollen lips/tingly), then with lotions(hives), then with ice cream. I didn’t know what was happening to me then I realized I couldn’t have coconut. Fast forward 7 years and I find out my grandfather was allergic to coconut and so are a few of my cousins and aunts. Unfortunately I am no longer able to consume coconut of any kind. My throat starts closing.
I would say that avoiding consumable coconut is much easier than topical/beauty products. I do find it comical, however, when people promote “all natural” soaps/shampoos/ lotions etc. “Yeah! That’s what I'm afraid of!”.
Hi Bri! Funny story, same thing happened to me! I grew up with all my allergies and it wasn't until I was 30 that my grandmother told me, "oh yeah, I am allergic to shrimp." If only family told us sooner, right?!
I'm sorry to hear that you have such a strong coconut allergy. Like you said, the food is easier to avoid than the beauty/cleaning products. I have a few recommendations in my bath and skincare articles for some ideas that are all coconut free! But if you ever find a product you love, please let me know as I'd love to know about it.
Hey. I have allergies but I found out maybe 4 years back I was allergic to coconut. When I was 21 I'd drink coconut rum and only my face would get red. Never had issues. Whe. I got tested after I had my daughter my doctor told me I was allergic to coconut. I said no way. So I limited food. Haven't had an issue with soaps or shampoos (yet). I do try and limit chapsticks with coconut. Last weekend I had ice cream which was honeycomb flavor (no honey it was caramel) and my throat started to close. I saw on the back coconut oil. The other flavors of thay brand didn't have coconut oil so I didn't think to look on this one. Now I'm going back next week to get food tested again & request an epi pen. I recently had hives from a medication.. so I wonder if my body is changing again. Your page has helped a lot with finding different names of coconut & you're right my life is about to change - drastically. Email me any time.
Hey Ashley, thank you for sharing your story! Yeah, it is so strange how allergies can get worse or change over time. When I was a kid I was allergic to different things than I am as an adult. So it's totally possible for you to have new ones! Good luck with your upcoming allergy testing. Thank you and I'm so happy that you've found this site and page helpful. I'm always here to answer any questions!
Thank you for this guide. Sadly also got a coconut allergy and its a bit of a nightmare. Keep getting caught out with Ice Cream (coconut fat or coconut oil), never notice it until Im a spoonful in… been about 7 years now - all nuts and coconut. Was gutted as I ate it the most in my diet. Been in anaphylaxis alot but, last few times have been the scariest.
Kinda puts me off going out for dinner as its awkward as hell explaining it. No choice though.
I am struggling with shampoo as most has coconut in it. I dont have a massive problem with it in terms of reaction other than it dries and cracks my skin. Eventually causes the allergy eczema thing where my skin cracks and bleeds (painful). So hoping I can find something with this blogs help since I know what to dodge.
Thank you very much for this helpful guide 🙂
Hi Craig, thanks for sharing your story! Yes, it's so scary the amount of stuff they put coconut into. I agree - who would have thought ice cream of all places! I'm sorry to hear that you've had some scary anaphylactic reactions and so glad that you're doing better now. For shampoo, I do have a shampoo article that is coconut free! But if you're not into DIY (that's okay, I know not everyone is) I recommend pure castille soap made from 100% olive oil. It is super for sensitive skin and gently cleanses. I use Penn's Hill Soap Company to buy mine. They have some scented but I love the unscented. Hope this helps and so glad that you found this site to help you on your coconut free journey!
I love coconut. First time having an allergic reaction, I was pregnant. My kids can't have it. I didn't know you can develop an allergy from your kids. It runs in their Dad's family. Making a pie for the holiday & my throat started swelling on 1st bite. Since, I can't get it on my skin or smell it. The list is so long. You have to check what each (& how each) is made. Corn starch a big no no. Amish stores is where I buy my soap. Still haven't found a shampoo. Conditioners are hard but not impossible to find. Be careful with going out to eat. The new healthy oil, most have a low percentage of coconut oil. Still enough to hurt us. Burger King butter their buns before toasting them. Their butter has some in it. Over 10 years with this. What I have learned is:
1. At any development stage your body can change what it is allergic to.
2. For females, they can become allergic to what your baby is allergic to or an old allergy that you no longer had can come back.
3. The more people use a ingredient the more people can become allergic to it.
It is hard, we get use to being able to do one thing or go eat at one place and it changes. Keep a check on the stuff you use. Always check the ingredients, even if you used it the day before. That got me a number of times. The "new & improved" really needs to stop on a lot of things. "Better formulated" means they have changed either what's in it or amount they put in it. It's like a pyramid, you buy the shampoo. Each ingredient is made of different ingredients. You become your own private investigator. Having to look up each ingredient just to make sure none comes from coconut or been around it. Most places don't have coconut testing. That's about $1500 @ a specialist. Then most who are allergic, well for people like me who are allergic to all of it, it's easy. Then there's one who are only allergic to part of the coconut/plant, It's harder for them. Why, look at all the testing by trial and error. One minute they are fine & next well sitting on the toilet wondering what happened. Thinking it's a tummy bug. Second hand contact is the same for us all, it takes hours to days for it to show up. So be careful. Let me know what you've been through & I'm happy with any advice you can give. Thank you.
Hi Martha, thanks for sharing your story with your coconut allergy! You're so right, living with coconut allergies is a lot. So true about developing allergies when you have kids. Allergies can pop up anytime but seems to spring up a lot when people have kids. Everything you've shared is so helpful so I hope people read your comment! As for shampoo, my favorite is simple castille soap from the Penn's Hill Soap Company that you can find on Amazon. They have a few different scents but I like the unscented because it is so simple for the ingredients. What conditioner have you found that you like the best? I'd love to add it to the list! Thanks again, Laura
I really appreciate all of this information. I come to this site frequently. I was diagnosed with a coconut allergy about a month ago in addition to tree nuts and peanuts. Coconut is in everything and I have spent tons of money purging food, makeup, shampoo, conditioner, hair products, detergent, suncreen, etc... It is quite an effort to find things that work, hours and hours of research and some trial and error. The good news is I am learning a lot about how to use natural products and have even made my own hair balm. I am still learning though, a few days ago I had a reaction after chewing gum which had coconut oil in it. But again, thanks so much for the info!
Hi Lisa! Thank you so much for this comment! It really makes me so happy to know that you are finding this site helpful. And oh no! I'm sorry to hear you had a reaction to chewing gum - it is crazy how many things have coconut in them. I hope that you are feeling better now. And if you don't mind, could you send along your hair balm recipe? I'd love to see it!
For the hair balm, I used around 4 ounces of cocoa butter, 2.5 ounces of babassu oil, and 1.5 ounces of jojoba oil. I melted the cocoa butter and babassu together in a makeshift double boiler on low heat and then added the jojoba oil when they were fully liquified. I then cooled it in the fridge for about an hour until it started to set up. I then whipped it for about 5 minutes with a hand mixer. I then put it in jars, it was usable right away, although it took about a day to get its final consistency. It can be used as a body butter too, but I think it is a bit too oily for that so I would add some arrow root powder and whip longer if using as a body butter.
Oh, awesome thank you!! I've saved this and am going to try it out myself.
I was unaware that most activated charcoal used for digestive health contained coal from coconut shells. I was making myself sicker trying to deal with acid issues by taking them, as I am allergic to coconut. I certainly wish they would advertise that coconut is used in large print somewhere. I just thought I would share in case there are others that are unaware of this.
Oh that is good to know! I had not heard that about activated charcoal, though I avoid it because it can also stop your medications from working. Adding this to the list right now. Thank you so much for sharing this information with us all! I totally agree that I wish more places would say what is derived from coconut and what isn't.
Nancy freeman says
Hi- I was wondering if you have any trued and true brands of food that are safe from tree nuts and coconut? People always tell me to use Bobs Red Mill but they also do so much with tree nuts so they didn’t seem right. Both my 7 year old and I have these allergies and have the hardest time finding little sweets for him. I make most everything from scratch but would love to find more companies that truly are nut and coconut free. Thank you for the article!! Nancy
Hi there! Thank you so much for this comment. Yes, finding truly tree nut and coconut free things can be a challenge. I also make/bake everything from scratch and I know how that feels! Sometimes you just want to enjoy a quick snack. Your comment has inspired a new article to share some of my favorite companies. So look for that in the near future! In the meantime.
For premade sweets/treats I really enjoy the Enjoy Life company. They make everything from cookies to chocolate bars! The whole company is top 14 free and I have safely eaten their products for years.
For a delicious baking mix, check out Kate's Safe and Sweet. She has a line of cakes and brownie mixes that are free from the top 14 allergens, including coconut. I've worked with her before and her brownie mix is probably my favorite.
The best gluten flour is King Arthur wheat flours. They have a strict allergy program in place that the only allergen present in the facility is wheat and nothing else. I like that they never use enhancers in the basic all purpose flours so there is no risk of a hidden allergy. The best gluten free flour that is tree nut free is from Better Batter. They also have a strict allergy policy that is produced in a gluten free and top 8 free facility.
This is so helpful my husband is highly allergic and we've four years scratch their heads and wondered how he was having and reaction to things we thought did not have coconut when actually they did apparently I was just wondering if you or anybody else who reads this article would know of any good flea pet products that are 100% coconut free
I'm so glad you've found this helpful! Coconut is now in so many products so I can totally understand why it took a while to figure things out. I hope he feels better now that you know more of where it hides! I'm not sure of any pet products for fleas that are coconut free. I would bet a chewable tablet once a month would be a safer choice. Speak with your vet for some ideas. In the meantime, I'll keep looking and maybe someone else has found something!
Thank you for your article! It is nice to know there are other coconut allergy sufferers. When I told my family "the news", we all laughed because it sounded ridiculous. I laughed when my GP requested for that and peanuts (yet I was the persistent one in getting allergy tested). I said goodbye to snickers/marathon, Twix (more painfully), but I sneak in a dark chocolate bounty. I have a mild coconut allergy but have bouts of eczema and hives.
I knew coconut was in beauty products, just not to that extent! Definitely printing this list!
Thank you so much! I'm so happy that you've found this helpful and know that you have friends who also have a coconut allergy!! So many more people are discovering their coconut allergy so you are certainly not alone in this. Yes, coconut is such a sneaky allergy because of how much companies love to put it in products. I'm always reading labels and ingredient lists for everything. And I feel your pain on having to give up Twix. For dark chocolate, I also totally love the dark chocolate by the brand Endangered Species Chocolate. The one with mint is my favorite!
Wow this is great information! I am so glad I had an allergy test done a few years ago.i am a makeup and skincare junkie! It is very true coconut is in almost everything. I have become a label reader and it's time consuming but I am so glad I know now. Thanks so much for sharing good to know i am not alone! 🙂
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you found this helpful, especially as you said, to know you aren't alone in having a coconut allergy. I totally agree that being a label reader is time consuming but the best thing you can do. Thanks so much for sharing!!
Ahhh! I finally think I discovered what is causing my dizziness,heart palpitations, and nausea!! Thank you for this! Currently on the look out for a makeup like we can use. Also what do you use to wash your clothes?
Yay, I'm so happy that you're feeling better! That is always a good thing. For makeup, that is a tough one as so much contains coconut. As of right now, I think Bare Minerals original powder foundation is safe and for a lip product check out the fruit pigmented makeup by 100 Percent Pure. I can't say they are/will always be coconut free, but the ones I'm looking at looks safe now. And for laundry I use liquid Tide Free & Gentle and use pure white vinegar as my fabric softener. I don't use dryer sheets. I think I need to do a whole article on safe laundry care! Hope this helps.
Hi Laura - Thank you so much for the coconut info! I keep referring to it again and again. I agree with above poster - the coconut allergy is insidious. I've been struggling for the last 3 years with it and am just now figuring out that coconut seems to be a smoking gun, amongst all my other allergies. I've been using Vanicream Moisturizing Cream, and it has some of the ingredients you listed above. But, it doesn't seem to be a problem for me. Then I read one of their descriptions, and it said it was coconut-free. I look forward to reading more on your site. Thanks again!
Hi Becky, thank you so much for sharing your story with coconut! I'm so glad you've found this article helpful, that means so much to me! It's so true how coconut is a sneaky and insidious ingredient in so many things! I'm glad that you're really starting to figure it all out and have been having some health success. That is always the goal to move towards! Thank you for sharing your experience with the Vanicream company. Sometimes ingredients are tricky as one company sources them from coconut and another from corn. To be safe, I always suggest doing what you did - reach out to the company directly to be sure! Thanks again for your story and I look forward to seeing you around here! 🙂
Thank you for all this great information. I really appreciate all you have done to help others learn about allergies and how to cope with them. I suspect that I have a coconut allergy but haven't been tested yet. I also seem to have reactions to other tree nuts and chocolates. So I am pretty new to this lifestyle and really found your blog helpful. Thank you!
Hi Vanessa, I'm so happy that you've found this information to be helpful! Learning to live with several allergies can seem like a challenge, especially at first, but once you get in the groove it will become second nature. As always, if you have any questions or want to see something in particular on the blog, don't hesitate to reach out! I look forward to seeing you around.
Thank you so much for this blog post! I found you while searching to see of Sodium Methyl Cocoyl Taurate in my toothpaste could be triggering my coconut allergy. You may want to add this ingredient to your list as I found it to be a “yes.” But what I also found is your wonderfully comprehensive list here of other coconut-derived ingredients that I didn’t know about. Omigoodness, this may explain why I’m still having such skin problems! This really is an insidious allergy. I’m looking forward to reading your articles on homemade skin care products now. Yay!
I am so happy that you found this article helpful! And thank you for the addition of a new coconut derived ingredient - I've added it to the list. Yes, having a coconut allergy is one of the more annoying ones because coconut is such a hot ingredient in body care, skin care, even home care things! That's why having this community of us looking out for ingredients and each other is so important. Thank you!! <3