What to Know About an Eggplant Allergy

Eggplant is a plant in the nightshade family, also known as the Solanaceae family. Though botanically a fruit, eggplants are commonly eaten as a vegetable in savory dishes. They are used in many cuisines around the world and often touted for their versatility, especially as a meat replacement.

An exceedingly small number of people may develop an eggplant allergy. Though this allergy is very rare, it can result in discomfort and even serious full-body reactions in severe cases. Some individuals are even allergic or intolerant to all members of the nightshade family.

Learn more about the signs and symptoms of an eggplant allergy, how to treat it, what foods to avoid, and some suggestions for alternatives to eggplant.


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An allergic reaction to eggplant resembles allergic reactions to other foods. Common symptoms include:

  • Skin rashes
  • Itchy and swollen throat
  • Itchy and red eyes
  • Nausea and vomiting

In severe cases, food allergies can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat
  • Low blood pressure

Risk Factors

In general, the main cause of allergies is genes. A person's sex, race, and age may also factor into incidence and prevalence for allergies. Exposure to certain allergens, socioeconomic factors, comorbidities (co-occurring conditions), climate zone, and dietary habits may also influence allergies.

Your risk for an eggplant allergy may increase if you have:

  • Allergies to other members of the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers
  • Sensitivity to salicylate, a component of aspirin that is found in eggplants
  • A latex allergy, although rare (one report has been recorded of anaphylaxis to eggplant in a single patient with a latex allergy)
  • Oral allergy syndrome (OAS), a condition that is different from food allergies

OAS is characterized by a heightened sensitivity to certain foods, mostly fruits and vegetables, after exposure to an allergen you are sensitive to, such as trees, flowers, or dust. OAS typically only has oral involvement (including the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat). Some cases of eggplant allergy have been reported to be associated with OAS, due to cross-reactions with pollen, latex, or even other vegetables, such as potato.


Use a journal to keep track of your diet and notice when you are feeling symptoms. If you find that you experience sensations such as itchiness, rashes, or nausea immediately after eating dishes with eggplant, an allergy may be to blame. Developing a rash a few days after eating eggplant does not indicate an eggplant food allergy.

If you suspect an eggplant allergy, see your healthcare provider for a referral to an allergy specialist, who may be able to perform tests to confirm the allergy. Common allergy tests include:

  • Skin prick test: During this test, your doctor will place a drop of the allergen on your skin and scratch it. After several minutes, if there is a reaction such as redness, swelling, or itchiness, an allergy is likely.
  • Blood test: A blood test for allergies looks for an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE), which your body produces when exposed to an allergen.

Food Allergy Treatment

The standard treatment for most food allergies is to avoid the allergen. This means you should not consume eggplant or foods that contain eggplant.

Your healthcare provider may prescribe certain medications to take in case you accidentally eat eggplant and experience an allergic reaction. For a minor allergic reaction, an antihistamine, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine) or Claritin (loratadine) may be used.

In an allergic reaction, your body releases compounds called histamines that cause the symptoms of itching, sneezing, and watery eyes. Antihistamines block the receptor for histamines, minimizing these symptoms.

In more severe cases, an EpiPen may be prescribed to prevent and treat anaphylaxis. EpiPens are injectable forms of epinephrine, used to stop the life-threatening whole-body reaction that can occur. It is important to know when and how to use an EpiPen, as it can save lives when used appropriately.

Always Carry Your EpiPen

If you are diagnosed with a food allergy, it is crucial to carry your EpiPen with you at all times.

What to Avoid

If you discover that you have an eggplant allergy, the best thing you can do is avoid eggplant. Eggplant is commonly used as a meat substitute, so be careful when ordering vegetarian or vegan items at restaurants. Tell your server that you have an eggplant allergy to be extra safe. Eggplant is used in cuisines around the world, so familiarize yourself with popular dishes that are made with eggplant. Some dishes that often contain eggplant include:

  • Baba ganoush
  • Ratatouille
  • Eggplant parmesan
  • Pasta alla Norma
  • Caponata
  • Moussaka

Know Your Nightshade Foods

If you are allergic to eggplant, it doesn't mean you are automatically allergic to other foods in the nightshade family, but it's a possibility. Here are some other nightshade foods to be aware of:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Hot peppers
  • Bell peppers
  • Goji berries
  • Blueberries
  • Tomatillos
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Chili pepper flakes
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika

Food Alternatives

Luckily, avoiding eggplant is relatively easy once you are familiar with the dishes that contain it. Other vegetables such as mushrooms, okra, root vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers can be used in place of eggplant in stews, stir fries, and sautés, but if you are also allergic to nightshades, you cannot eat some of these either. Zucchini can be a great substitute for eggplant in dishes like eggplant parmesan or grilled salads.


Eggplant allergies are rare. All allergies can cause discomfort and even severe reactions. If you notice itching, swelling, rashes, or nausea immediately after eating eggplant, you may be allergic. If you experience any symptoms of anaphylaxis, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, or swelling of the throat, seek medical care right away.

Eggplant allergies can be managed by familiarizing yourself with the dishes that contain eggplant and substituting other foods, such as mushrooms and zucchini, for eggplant.

A Word From Verywell

Food allergies can be frustrating to manage and may cause anxiety, especially when sharing meals or eating out. However, learning more about your allergy and what foods to avoid can help you feel empowered and in control.

If you think you have a food allergy, talk to your healthcare provider about getting tested so you can be confident when choosing foods to cook at home or while eating out.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why do eggplants make my mouth itchy?

    If eggplants make your mouth itch, you may have an eggplant allergy.

    Mouth itching can occur as a symptom of OAS, which will typically resolve on its own—no EpiPen is required. OAS symptoms can also be managed by eating canned foods or cooking them prior to consumption.

    Mouth itching can also occur with systemic allergic reactions, which requires a different treatment plan: Strictly avoid the food you're allergic to no matter how it's prepared and always carry your EpiPen.

    If your mouth itches immediately after eating a food, talk with your healthcare provider and get an allergy test to confirm the cause of your symptoms.

  • Are eggplants high in histamine?

    Eggplants do contain histamine, the chemical responsible for allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, and congestion. However, the histamine in foods, including eggplant, varies and is generally not at levels that would cause a spontaneous allergic reaction in most individuals.

    Skin prick tests can be imprecise when testing for histamine in eggplant.

  • What are the symptoms of nightshade foods intolerance?

    Nightshade intolerance may produce symptoms such as bloating, gas, heartburn, nausea, and diarrhea after eating foods that are members of the nightshade family, such as eggplant, potato, tomato, and pepper.

13 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Rebecca Valdez, MS, RDN
Rebecca Valdez is a registered dietitian nutritionist and nutrition communications consultant, passionate about food justice, equity, and sustainability.