Itchy Throat Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Itchy throat is a common symptom of allergies

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While an itchy throat may be an early sign of a viral or bacterial throat infection, another common explanation for an itchy throat is an allergy. The itchiness and scratchiness may be the result of postnasal drip common in people with respiratory allergies, or it may be a part of a more serious, systemic (whole-body) allergic reaction.

Examples of allergies that cause itchy throat include:

This article looks at the causes and symptoms of an itchy throat allergy. It also offers tips on how to get rid of an itchy throat, including antihistamines, saltwater gargles, over-the-counter and natural remedies, and the avoidance of allergy-causing substances (allergens).

Treatment of Itchy Throat Allergies: Antihistamines, Lozenges or cough drops with a bag (lozenges and cough drops), hard candy, honey, humidifier and air purifier, water and other fluids, circles (saltwater gargle)

Verywell / Julie Bang

Causes of Itchy Throat Allergies

Allergy symptoms, including an itchy throat, occur when your immune system makes antibodies to fight off harmless substances that it thinks are a threat to your body. Many common allergic reactions are linked to the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE).

Allergic reactions increase mucus production in your nasal passageways and sinuses. This can lead to postnasal drip—mucus that drains into the back of your throat. The inflammation caused by the reaction of the IgE antibody can cause an “itchy” sensation in your throat.

Allergies can be caused by substances in your environment, certain types of food or food ingredients, materials such as latex, medications, and insect bites/stings. The most common allergens include:

  • Dust mites
  • Pollen (trees, grass, and weeds)
  • Mold spores
  • Dog/cat dander
  • Cockroaches
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Soy products
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Apple skin

What Are Pollutants?

Itchy throat allergies can also be caused by inhaled pollutants. These can be found both indoors and outdoors. Common air pollutants include:

  • Cleaning products
  • Wood smoke
  • Tobacco smoke
  • Fragrances
  • Pesticides
  • Hygiene products
  • Dust particles
  • Gases

Itchy Throat Allergy Symptoms

Itchy throat allergy symptoms typically occur at the same time as other allergy symptoms. These symptoms commonly include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Itchy eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Wheezing (whistling sound when breathing out)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Congestion
  • Headache
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea/vomiting (associated with food allergies)

Itchy throat from allergies feels different than other medical conditions that affect your throat.

  • Throat can feel itchy, ticklish, scratchy, or like you have to keep clearing it.
  • Throat does not typically feel raw, painful, or like breathing is restricted.

What Is Anaphylaxis?

Allergic reactions can occasionally be life-threatening. This condition, called anaphylaxis, requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include:

  • Clammy skin
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Fainting or lightheadedness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness

Itchy Throat Treatments

A variety of treatments are available for itchy throat allergies, including home remedies. Some target your immune system, such as antihistamines, while others aim to relieve discomfort in your throat.

  • Antihistamines: These medications block the action of histamines—chemicals in your immune system that are producing your symptoms. Antihistamines are available over-the-counter and by prescription from your doctor. For example, Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra.
  • Lozenges/cough drops: Throat lozenges and cough drops slowly dissolve in your mouth to help soothe symptoms of itchy throat allergies. These sometimes contain ingredients such as menthol or benzocaine that temporarily decrease throat irritation and soreness.
  • Hard candy: Sucking on hard candy can help relieve itchy throat allergy symptoms by increasing saliva production and coating the surface of your throat.
  • Fluids: If you aren’t well hydrated, you won’t produce enough saliva. This can make your itchy throat allergy symptoms worse. You’ll know if you’re hydrated by the color of your urine. Aim for a pale yellow color. Water isn’t your only option—hot teas or broth-based soups can increase your fluid intake and help soothe your throat at the same time.
  • Honey: A spoonful of honey can coat your throat and temporarily soothe itching. If you don’t want to eat it plain, dissolve a couple of teaspoons in your favorite tea.
  • Saltwater gargle: Add one-half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water and gargle (don’t swallow it). Do this every hour while your symptoms last.
  • Humidifiers and air purifiers: Treating the air you breathe can help relieve itchy throat allergies. Humidifiers add moisture to the air, and purifiers help to remove potential airborne allergens.

Oral Allergy Syndrome

Oral allergy syndrome, also called pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS), is a condition that occurs when a person has an allergy to proteins that are found in certain types of pollen, along with raw vegetables and fruits, and some types of tree nuts.

Scratchy, itchy throat is one of the main symptoms of this condition, along with swelling in the tongue, lips, throat, and mouth. These symptoms appear after you’ve eaten the offending food item.

If you have seasonal allergies and also experience these symptoms after eating these types of food, you might have PFAS.

Food Allergies Associated With PFAS

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, the following food allergies are associated with different types of pollen allergies:

  • Birch: Cherry, celery, apple, hazelnut, almond, pear, peach, plum, kiwi, carrot
  • Grass: Melons, orange, cherry, tomato, celery, peach
  • Ragweed: Melons, cucumber, zucchini, banana, sunflower seeds

In order to treat this condition, you’ll need to avoid eating the offending foods in their raw form.

A Word From Verywell

While itchy throat allergies cause annoying symptoms, being proactive can help. See an allergist for allergy testing. Once you’ve identified your trigger(s), you can take steps to avoid contact.

Talk to your doctor about additional treatment options as well. In some cases, allergy shots can help your body get “used to” your allergen and decrease your symptoms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I tell the difference between itchy throat allergies and COVID?

    Itchy throat can be a symptom of allergies or other conditions, including COVID. If you aren't sure if you are experiencing an allergy or an illness, take an antihistamine.

    If your itchy throat is due to allergies, the symptoms should resolve within about a half-hour of taking Benedryl. If an antihistamine does not resolve your itchy throat within a few hours of taking it, it is not allergies.

    If you suspect COVID, you can take an at-home test or call your healthcare provider for guidance.

  • What are some home remedies for an itchy throat?

    Soothe your itchy throat with lozenges, salt water gargles, a bit of honey, and plenty of fluids.

  • What herbal teas are helpful for an itchy throat?

    Herbal teas of any kind can help soothe an itchy throat. Hot liquids help break up the mucus that is contributing to your symptoms. Consider adding a little honey to coat your throat and help decrease irritation.

  • What can I take for itchy throat allergies at night?

    Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is a short-acting antihistamine that causes drowsiness. This makes it a good option for treating itchy throat allergies at night.

8 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.
  1. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Allergies and the immune system.

  2. Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. Allergy facts and figures.

  3. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Air pollution.

  4. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Allergy symptoms.

  5. National Health Service. Anaphylaxis.

  6. American Academy of Family Physicians. Antihistamines: understanding your OTC options.

  7. Cleveland Clinic. What the color of your pee says about you.

  8. American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology. Pollen food allergy syndrome.

By Aubrey Bailey, PT, DPT, CHT
Aubrey Bailey is a physical therapist and professor of anatomy and physiology with over a decade of experience providing in-person and online education for medical personnel and the general public, specializing in the areas of orthopedic injury, neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and healthy living.