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. If you are found to be allergic, monitoring exposure to the spice may be difficult, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not monitor the use of cinnamon. 

This article covers what a cinnamon allergy is and how a cinnamon allergy is diagnosed and managed.


Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Where Does Cinnamon Come From?

Cinnamon spice is from the Cinnamomum tree bark, and its flavor comes from an essential oil, particularly cinnamon. 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.

What Is a Cinnamon Allergy?

You can be allergic to almost anything, but when it comes to food, most people are allergic to eight types:

  • Milk
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Tree nuts
  • Crustacean shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans

Spice allergies make up about 2% of all food allergies. If you're allergic to cinnamon, ingesting, breathing in, or touching the spice may trigger an allergic reaction.

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

  • Rash or hives
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath and/or coughing
  • Swelling of lips, face, throat, and tongue
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fainting
  • Tingling or itchiness in the mouth

These symptoms may occur within a few minutes to a few hours after coming in contact with your allergen.

Sometimes, anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that can send the body into shock, can occur from coming in contact with an allergen. Warning signs of anaphylaxis typically present as symptoms that affect more than one part of the body, such as wheezing along with skin rashes or swelling.

Anaphylaxis requires a prompt epinephrine pen injection and immediate medical attention. After administering the injection, go to your nearest emergency room for medical help. 

Other Types of Cinnamon Allergies 

Ingesting an allergen like cinnamon is a common way for an allergic reaction to happen. However, other non-life-threatening reactions can occur that still require a thorough evaluation.

Contact Dermatitis

Cinnamon can sometimes cause a non-life-threatening rash known as contact dermatitis, which differs from a true allergy. Contact dermatitis usually results from the skin having a reaction to a substance.

Symptoms of contact dermatitis are less severe than a true allergy, typically presenting as a rash that looks like a sunburn with redness, peeling, and itching. The best way to treat this rash is by avoiding cinnamon and cinnamon-containing products.

Cinnamic aldehyde or cinnamaldehyde (the chemical compound that gives cinnamon its scent and flavor) is the 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.

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.

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, mouth rinses, and increasing your fluid intake can help ease the pain and inflammation that stomatitis can cause.

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. 


DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Diagnosing 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). A skin test involves pricking the skin with a sterile probe that contains a small amount of cinnamon extract.

Results usually come back within 15 to 30 minutes. If cinnamon extract is not available for the test, a blood test can be done, though skin testing is preferable.

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

Your allergist may also recommend an oral food challenge to confirm your test results. An oral food challenge involves feeding you increasing amounts of cinnamon over a period of time under the strict supervision of your allergist.

cinnamon prick test

DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND

Managing Your Cinnamon Allergy

Unfortunately, due to a 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 the foods you eat and the products you use, and talk to your family and friends about your diagnosis.

Always read ingredient labels so 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 containing the spice. This may be challenging, but your allergist can recommend an appropriate skincare routine for you. Topical steroids or other creams (like tacrolimus) can help alleviate inflammation, and antihistamines can help relieve the itch that comes with the rash.


Although rare, it's possible to have a cinnamon allergy. If you're allergic to cinnamon, breathing in, ingesting, or touching cinnamon may cause an allergic reaction. Common symptoms of an allergic reaction include rashes, wheezing, coughing, and nausea.

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. They 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.

11 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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Additional Reading

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