Tree nuts include cashews, almonds, pecans and walnuts among others, but not peanut which is a legume. However, some people do have an allergy to both peanuts and tree nuts. You will need to be tested in order to determine the exact nature of your allergies.
There is no cure for allergies, and the best practice is to stay away from all nuts and nut products. Read labels of all the foods that you eat, and all foods in your house. It is safest to avoid all kinds of nuts even if you’re allergic to just one – the processing of nuts in foods often causes cross-contamination.
Tree nuts can show up in products that aren’t ingested, but used in lotions and shampoos. Read the labels on these products also. Just touching nuts can cause severe reactions also. The most commonly reported symptoms seen with this kind of allergy include: atopic dermatitis (eczema), urticaria (hives), asthma, anaphylactic shock and digestive symptoms.
As with most allergies, avoidance is key. Make sure to read all labels for foods, cosmetics, creams and ointments that may contain any type or amount of tree nut. A history of allergic reactions shortly after exposure to tree nuts might suggest an allergy. However, this should be confirmed with a skin prick test or RAST. Talk to your doctor about a complete diagnosis.
SOURCE: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care. First created 1995; fully updated 1998; most recently updated 2005.
© Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) Editorial Board