How to Identify an Olive Oil Allergy

Olive oil allergy is very rare but may cause skin irritation or other symptoms.

Olive oil or olive allergy is very rare. In fact, you’re more likely to experience the benefits of olive oil.

Olive oil is made from crushing olives—small fruit that grows on olive trees. The oil from the olives is then extracted through a manufacturing process. The result is a tasty liquid with lots of health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and reducing cancer risk.

This article discusses olive oil allergy symptoms, causes, and treatment options. 

olive oil being poured from a bottle into a small glass bowl

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Olive Allergy 

Olives grow in temperate, dry climates, mainly around the Mediterranean. They’re also farmed in some U.S. states, including California, Texas, and Florida.

Where olive trees grow, people can experience seasonal allergies due to olive pollen. Olive pollen allergy is relatively common and can trigger allergic rhinitis, with symptoms like sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and a stuffy nose. 

An allergy to olives is much rarer, and an olive oil allergy is even more unlikely. That’s because olive oil contains very few proteins, thanks to the manufacturing process that extracts the oil.

Since it’s so rare, there’s little research or data on olive oil allergies. However, one study reports only 20 cases of allergic reactions to olive oil on the skin.

Symptoms

There’s no clear set of symptoms for an olive oil allergy. However, if you have an allergy to olive oil, you may experience symptoms of food allergies, including:

  • Hives
  • Stomach cramping, nausea, and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Swelling of the mouth or tongue
  • Dizziness of feeling faint

An olive oil allergy could also cause symptoms of contact dermatitis, a skin irritation that can be triggered by allergens. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include:

  • Rash, which may be red, itchy, or burning
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • Pain

In extremely rare cases, a food allergy can trigger anaphylaxis, a life-threatening shock response. If you have trouble breathing, experience changes to your cognition, or feel faint, call 911 immediately. 

Diagnosis 

The diagnosis of food allergies, including an olive oil allergy, can be tricky. Your healthcare provider may recommend blood tests, skin prick tests, or an elimination diet. These can detect an olive allergy but not an olive oil allergy.

Keeping a journal may speed up your diagnosis. Write down what you eat and document symptoms when they occur. This can help your healthcare provider understand what might be causing your allergy. Remember, even if you are diagnosed with an olive allergy, it’s unlikely that you’re allergic to olive oil.

Treatment

If you have an olive oil allergy, you should avoid olive oil. That can be tricky since olive oil is a common ingredient in foods, cosmetics, and other products. Use caution when using the following and always read their labels:

  • Olive oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salad dressings
  • Chips, popcorn, and other manufactured foods
  • Baked goods
  • Facial cleansers
  • Lotions
  • Shampoos and hair products

Olive Oil Substitutes

Great substitutes are available if you’re trying to cut back on or eliminate olive oil. For skin health, try:

  • Almond oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Argan oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Apple cider vinegar

For cooking substitutes, try:

  • Grapeseed oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Walnut oil
  • Peanut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Butter or ghee

Summary

An olive oil allergy is extremely rare. Even if you’re allergic to olives, which is also rare, you’re likely able to eat and use olive oil because it contains few olive oil proteins. If you experience food allergy symptoms when you use olive oil, it’s best to remove it from your diet and daily routines and replace it with an alternative like coconut oil. 

A Word From Verywell 

Although an olive oil allergy is rare, it’s possible. If you believe you might be allergic to olive oil, keep a detailed journal of your symptoms and talk to your healthcare provider. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and seek help identifying the root cause of your symptoms. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you have an olive oil allergy without being allergic to olives?

    Since olive oil allergy is not well understood, there’s no research on whether you can have an olive oil allergy without being allergic to olives. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms, track them in a journal and talk to your healthcare provider, who can help determine whether olive oil allergy is the correct diagnosis. 

  • Can people with nut allergies have olive oil?

    Yes, people with nut allergies can have olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is considered one of the safest oils for people with nut allergies.

  • What are the side effects of too much olive oil?

    Olive oil has 119 calories per tablespoon, so eating too much of it could lead to weight gain. Most people shouldn’t consume more than 5 to 7 teaspoons of olive oil daily.

  • Is olive oil bad for your health?

    No, olive oil is considered a healthy fat with many benefits, from improving cardiovascular health to soothing skin conditions. However, like all foods, it’s important to consume olive oil in moderation. 

6 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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  2. Foscolou A, Critselis E, Panagiotakos D. Olive oil consumption and human health: a narrative reviewMaturitas. 2018;118:60-66. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.10.013

  3. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Food allergies: does an olive allergy mean I have to avoid olive oil?

  4. Isaksson M, Bruze M. Occupational allergic contact dermatitis from olive oil in a masseur. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1999;41(2):312–315. doi:10.1016/S0190-9622(99)70372-5

  5. American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Food allergy.

  6. University of Maine. Bulletin #4393, eating for health with MyPlate: oils.