Could You Be Allergic to Cinnamon?

While relatively rare, it is possible to be allergic to cinnamon. 

Cinnamon is frequently used in cooking, but is also prevalent in fragrances, cosmetics, and other beauty products. As its use increases, allergies to cinnamon will likely be on the rise in the general population. If you are found to be allergic, monitoring exposure to the spice may be difficult, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor the use of cinnamon. 

So where does cinnamon come from? Cinnamon spice is from the Cinnamomum tree bark and its flavor comes from an essential oil, particularly cinnamal. There are two major types of cinnamon, known as cassia and Ceylon. Ceylon is considered purer and is native to Sri Lanka and India. Cassia is more accessible, originates in China, and is most likely the one you are buying in the grocery store.


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

So What Is a Cinnamon Allergy?

You can be allergic to almost anything, but when it comes to foods, most people are allergic to the same seven foods, including seafood, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and dairy. Spice allergies make up only about 2% of all food allergies.

The symptoms of a true food allergy, including one to cinnamon, include:

  • Rash or hives (a rash that looks like mosquito bites and is also itchy)
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath and/or coughing
  • Swelling of lips, face, and tongue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Uterine cramping

These symptoms usually occur within a few minutes to an hour after ingestion of your allergen.

It is important to keep in mind that you can have a delayed food reaction, which means your reaction could occur several hours after consumption. A life-threatening allergy requires urgent medical attention and most importantly an epinephrine pen that needs to be quickly administered. After administration, go to your nearest emergency room to get medical help. 

Diagnosis of a Cinnamon Food Allergy

To diagnose a cinnamon food allergy, your allergist can perform a skin test (a painless prick test on your arms or back) and you will get the results after just 20 minutes. If cinnamon extract is not available for the test, a blood test can be done, though skin testing is preferable.

cinnamon prick test

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

If you have a positive skin test and had a previous reaction to cinnamon, you are likely allergic to the spice. Your allergist will likely prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and go over how and when to use it. 

Other Types of Cinnamon Allergies 

There are other types of cinnamon allergies that are not life-threatening but still require a thorough evaluation.

Contact Dermatitis

Cinnamon can sometimes cause a non life-threatening rash known as contact dermatitis. The rash usually looks like a sunburn with redness, peeling, and itching. The best way to treat this rash is by avoiding cinnamon and cinnamon-containing products.

Cinnamal (the liquid that gives cinnamon its spice) is the most likely culprit that causes contact dermatitis. It is considered an allergen in Europe and is required to be listed in the ingredients list if it is present above a certain amount.

Diagnosing contact dermatitis can be confusing because the rash can occur a few weeks, months, or years after you have been exposed to a cinnamon-containing product. A patch test is the best method of diagnosis.

See your healthcare provider to find out if you can use a topical steroid on the rash to help it heal. Antihistamines may help with any itching, which is important to treat because itching may make the rash worse.


Stomatitis is inflammation of the mouth or lips. Symptoms include pain, burning, ulcers, and mucosal peeling, among others. Generally, you would have had cinnamon in the past without a reaction before you tried it again and developed this oral irritation.


DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Besides eating cinnamon, you may have been exposed to the spice in daily products that you wouldn't think twice about, including your mouthwash, toothpaste, cinnamon gum, and other products. Most reported cases of stomatitis from cinnamon are from toothpaste and gum.

Diagnosing contact dermatitis or stomatitis is much different than diagnosing a food allergy. If you have a rash that looks similar to a sunburn then a patch test is the most helpful step. A patch test is also the best option for figuring out what allergen could be causing your stomatitis. 

Managing Your Cinnamon Allergy

Unfortunately, due to lack of regulations on accurately labeling fragrances and spices, it can be difficult to avoid cinnamon. If you have an allergy, be vigilant in educating yourself about foods you eat and products you use and talk to your family and friends about your diagnosis.

Always try to read ingredient labels so that you know what is in your food. For example, a five-spice blend may contain cinnamon. If dining out, let your wait-staff know about your allergy and always carry your epinephrine pen with you.

If you have contact dermatitis or stomatitis due to cinnamon, avoid topical products that contain the spice. This may be difficult but your allergist will be able to recommend an appropriate skin care routine for you. Topical steroids or other creams (like tacrolimus) will help alleviate inflammation and antihistamines will help with that annoying itch that comes with the rash.

A Word From Verywell

If you think you may be allergic to cinnamon, see your allergist. Your healthcare provider can help diagnose your condition with either a skin test, a patch test, or both. He/she will help guide you in managing the cinnamon allergy so it does not get in the way of your daily life.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can cinnamon make me break out in a rash?

    Yes. Cinnamon, like other spices, can cause a rash when it touches the skin. This irritation is due to the natural properties of the spice, but it may not be a sign that you’re allergic to cinnamon.

  • Can my baby have cinnamon?

    There aren’t any specific guidelines for introducing babies to spices. Cinnamon is not on the list of common food allergies. In rare instances, people do have cinnamon allergies, but you should be able to add it to your baby's diet with little risk. Pediatricians generally recommend introducing one food at a time to babies to see if there's a reaction.

  • Is cinnamon good for you?

    Cinnamon can add flavoring that makes a meal satisfying and may replace sugar, which can be helpful for lowering calorie intake and carbohydrates. However, there isn’t any clear evidence that cinnamon helps with any specific health conditions.

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.
  1. Isaac-renton M, Li MK, Parsons LM. Cinnamon spice and everything not nice: many features of intraoral allergy to cinnamic aldehyde. Dermatitis. 2015;26(3):116-21. doi:10.1097/DER.0000000000000112

  2. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Sugar and Spice and Everything Not So Nice. 2014.

  3. Cinnamal.

  4. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Can Spices Cause Allergic Reactions?

  5. Chan ES, Abrams EM, Hildebrand KJ, Watson W. Early introduction of foods to prevent food allergy. Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology. 2018;14(2):57. doi:10.1186%2Fs13223-018-0286-1

  6. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Cinnamon.

Additional Reading

By Ratika Gupta, MD
Ratika Gupta, MD, is a dual board-certified physician in internal medicine and allergy and immunology.