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Health, Nutrition, Science

The Mystery of the Itchy Nose!

 Do you get an itchy nose or itchy palms after eating? Lots of us do; especially after takeaway food, cheese, hams or drinking red wine. Some of us get runny noses and some of us are even allergic to certain foods.

My wife challenged me to find out why she gets an itchy nose after eating…

 Read on to find out the truth about food allergies, additives and the real cause for the dreaded ‘post-meal itchy nose’…

An Unsolved Medical Problem!

It all started over a glass of red wine...

My wife rarely reads my blog; She says there are too many long words in it, and not enough pictures of flowers! But if I solve her ‘medical’ question she promised she would read this blog. As I’m a hopeless sucker for a challenge, I obliged.

Here’s how the problem came to light: We were relaxing one evening after a meal out. Sipping from a glass of red wine, she started to rub her nose “Why do I get an itchy nose when I eat certain foods?!”  Because I am a doctor; it is expected that I must know the answer to anything vaguely related to the human body! I politely informed her that I had no idea and that “Post-Meal Nose Itching Syndrome was not something we covered in medical school!”


 

What is an itch anyway?

Hard to believe: I was something of a medical student geek!

I hoped that ‘Google‘ would answer my question. Sadly, while it seems lots of people have strange itches and scratches (I’ll spare you the details) no-one seems to explain how eating causes an itchy nose.

So I decided to look into causes of itching, and started to remember what I was like as a medical student…

At medical school, I was the odd and slightly eccentric one. For no particular reason at one point I became fascinated by itches: what causes them, and why we get them! The medical name for itch is ‘pruritis’ and to my utter delight I found several medical textbooks devoted to the subject! Proudly carrying my ‘additional reading’ I got quite a laugh when my friends saw me walking around with “Your Guide to Pruritis”. They obviously presumed I was doing some homework for personal reasons!

There are special nerves in our skin (called C-Fibres) that only sense itch!

An itch is something of a halfway house between normal sensation and pain: If something irritates your skin a lot, then you feel pain; But if something irritates your skin only a little, you get an itch.

Allergies are a common cause of itching (pruritis). So is it possible that us ‘nose scratchers’ are allergic to something in our food?

What is a Food Allergy?

A food allergy is caused because your body’s immune system mistakenly thinks something we have eaten is attacking you. People talk about them all the time, but most people who think they have one actually don’t!

Common foods associated with allergies


If you eat a food that you are allergic to, your immune system becomes activated: The chemical histamine is released into the blood by your white blood cells. This sets off a sequence of events that can be mild or severe. The worst type of allergic reactions can be fatal and is called ‘anaphylaxis’. This rare reaction causes the immune system to go completely into overdrive. Histamine floods around the body: lips and eyes swell, vomiting occurs, skin rashes break out, wheezing and it becomes difficult to breathe.

Most Food Allergies are Mild but difficult to diagnose

Histamine causes itch

Thankfully allergies are normally very mild: the histamine gives you a skin rash, indigestion or a bit of itching.

Food allergies can be notoriously difficult to diagnose properly: time consuming skin-tests can help but often don’t give the answer. Allergies also get wrongly blamed for all sorts of things; such as food poisoning, indigestion and other aches and pains. About 3 in 100 of us have a real food allergy, but nearly a third of us think we have one: What a bunch of hypochondriacs we are!

My wife and my ‘nose scratching syndrome’ is probably not an allergy for several reasons: 

  • My wife’s ‘nose-scratching syndrome’ only happens occasionally, she doesn’t get it every time she eats pizza or drinks red wine; if it were a food allergy it would happen every time.
  • Food allergies usually only happen with one type of food (e.g. nuts, eggs or shellfish), where in our case lots of different foods set it off. 
  • Allergies tend to cause more than just an itchy nose; you would expect swollen lips, coughing or itchy eyes as well. 

You may can find out more about food allergies here (and have a chat with your GP if you think you have a real one)

Allergy Symptoms

So if it’s not an allergy, could it be all those nasty food additives?

Chinese Restaurant Syndrome: The Truth

Some people get chest pains, headaches, flushing and burning around the mouth after Chinese food

Since the 1940s, a flavour enhancer called MSG (Mono-Sodium Glutamate) has been used in cooking in Western countries. Originally used in Chinese cooking, it is now in crisps, snacks, sauces and many fast foods. In the 1960s flurries of Chinese restaurant-goers started to experience lots of strange symptoms after chowing down. The finger of blame was pointed squarely at this new ‘artificial’ additive, MSG.

However, after decades of in-depth research it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that MSG is safe to eat. MSG is found in seaweed naturally and does not cause ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’. 

What is ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome’? Probably a combination of indigestion, allergies and food intolerances in Westerners diners not used to Eastern spices and ingredients!

Even though MSG is safe, some people prefer not to have it anyway

Gustatory Rhinitis: runny nose problems

One solution to a runny nose!

Are you a curry-lover? If so, then you’ll know that the essential partner to your biryani and poppadoms is a large handful of tissues! It is quite normal for us all to get a runny nose when eating hot and spicy foods. However, some of us have this problem particularly badly and get a runny nose after eating practically anything! 

‘Runny Nose’ even has a posh-sounding medical name: ‘Gustatory Rhinitis’! 

Why?

Every time we eat, blood gets sent to our face and nose. This is to help our salivary glands work and to carry away the heat from our hot food. An unfortunate side-effect of this process is more blood flows into your nose and makes your nose run!

Facial Flushing? Blood flow is 'unconsciously' sent to the nose and face when eating

But gustatory rhinitis doesn’t normally cause nose itching, but understanding that blood gets sent to the nose after eating may help us to solvel this medical mystery

The true cause of after-meal nose itch: ‘Eating Histamine’!

What do all these itchy-nose foods have in common?

  • Soy sauce (and Chinese Food)
  • Red Wine
  • Mature Cheese (and pizzas)
  • Cured Hams
  • Beer
  • Tomato puree
  • Fish and shell-fish

Any ideas what these foods have in common?

I had no clue until I discovered that all these tasty things naturally contain large amounts of histamine. Remember that problematic chemical that is released during allergies? The very same chemical that is released by the immune system during an allergic reaction is in lots of our foods!

Eating Histamine sounds dangerous! Should I be concerned?

Unless you’re planning on ingesting an industrial amount of histamine, eating the histamine found in food doesn’t cause a problem in most people: It all gets broken down and digested during eating. Occasionally some unfortunate people’s bodies aren’t able to destroy histamine and so every time they eat any foods high in histamine they get severe ‘allergy-like’ symptoms. They are missing an enzyme in their guts and they are ‘histamine intolerant‘; such people can have severe problems (sneezing, wheezing, rashes and diarrhoea).  

Histamine: the pesky chemical that causes nose itching!

My wife and I don’t have ‘histamine intolerance’; we only get mild nose itching when we eat lots of these foods. Quite a few people I have spoken to also say they get an itchy nose when they do the same. My conclusion is that if any of us eat enough histamine-rich food then some will end up in our bloodstream and give you an itch! And with blood flowing to your nose and face anyway because you are eating; these small amounts of histamine will tend to end up irritating the tip of your nose!

Phew, another problem solved! Well almost...


What about itchy palms?

I have failed to find conclusive evidence to show that histamine is the cause of itchy palms but reactions to histamine can be very individual: some feel itches, some headaches, other people may get sneezes.

The most recent research suggests that 1% of us have histamine intolerance: and most people don’t know it! If you experience bothersome headaches, bad facial flushing, rashes or itches when eating these foods then you may have histamine intolerance.

If this is you then it may be worth trying a low-histamine diet: it’s the closest thing you’ll get to a cure.

My Nobel Prize Awaits?

This is (to my knowledge) the first explanation of the common ‘post-meal nose itching’ phenomenon. There has been research that agrees with my explanation, but I will need to scientifically prove it in order to apply for a Nobel Prize!

All I need to do in is arrange an “experiment” where ‘subjects’ eat a selection of histamine-rich foods (such as pizzas, chinese food, hams and cheeses) and drinking red wine and beer, and then tell me how much their nose itches.

Any volunteers?

.

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Thanks for reading – comments and feedback are warmly welcomed!

RELATED POST: The Mystery of the Meat Sweats!


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DISCLAIMER: All of the writing in ‘Doctor Stu’s Science Blog’ are intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. Please do not base your healthcare decisions on the information contained in this blog: Always see your GP first!

References:

Maintz L, Novak N. Histamine and histamine intolerance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007
May;85(5):1185-96.

Wöhrl S, Hemmer W, Focke M, Rappersberger K, Jarisch R. Histamine intolerance-like symptoms in healthy volunteers after oral provocation with liquid histamine. Allergy Asthma Proc. 2004 Sep-Oct;25(5):305-11.

Zopf Y, Baenkler HW, Silbermann A, Hahn EG, Raithel M. The differential diagnosis of food intolerance. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2009 106;(21):359–369

Hadley, C. Food Allergies on the rise? EMBO reports (2006) 7, 1080 – 1083

Madsen, C (2005) Prevalence of food allergy: an overview. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 64: 413-417 Cambridge University Press

Vorvick, L (2008) Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. available online at:http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001126.htm

Williams AN, Woessner KM. Monosodium glutamate ‘allergy': menace or myth? Clin Exp Allergy. 2009 May;39(5):640-6. Epub 2009 Apr 6

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About Stuart Farrimond

I love writing about science and health subjects. Strange, because I also teach the same things. I trained as a medical doctor before turning my hand to other things. Shortlisted for The Guardian/Observer for Science Writer of the Year 2011 and editor for Guru Magazine I also like to grow large pumpkins...

Discussion

118 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Itchy Nose!

  1. I am very pleased to have the answer to my question solved!! I will gladly nominate you for a nobel peace prize :)

    Posted by Grace | November 20, 2010, 8:58 am
  2. Wow – what an interesting article, and may I offer the services of my husband and I as guinea pig volunteers…

    Dave and I ate a chinese takeaway and drank a bottle of red wine about an hour ago (including fearsomely hot&spicy ribs!). We are monitoring our symptoms closely, but I’m not sure itchy noses have reared their heads yet :o(

    I have itchy shins and elbows, and am aching all over – but they are more likely due to a lazy moisturising regime, and going for a run yesterday for the first time in 4 months. Dave is tired and weary, but he may have a cold coming on – unless it’s the drink.

    Keep up the brilliant blogs!

    Posted by Louise Allan | November 20, 2010, 9:01 pm
    • Great! My first two volunteers… I’m looking forward to ‘experiment day’!
      We took a straw pole this evening with some friends for itchy-nose syndrome…
      No one had it!!!
      There must be more than us who get itchy noses…??
      Thanks Louise – ask Dave for some new moisturiser this Xmas! ;)

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | November 20, 2010, 10:26 pm
      • I get an itchy nose real bad when I am in the kitchen cooking dinner and it itches all the way thru the meal and for awhile afterwards. This happens very often. But not only when I start cooking. It happens to me most of the time when we go out to eat also. There is nothing more annoying than to have an itchy nose while you are trying to eat. Do you have the answer to my problem?

        Posted by jmarcellah | December 14, 2011, 12:07 pm
      • I definitely get an itchy nose. It drives my husband crazy. Mostly when I drink caffeine or very spicy foods. Which happens a lot. I had a thought…I get itchy when I run do to poor circulation, if blood flows to your face and you have semi bad circulation could that do it as well since some foods cause changes in the blood

        Posted by Tawny taw | May 19, 2014, 8:17 pm
  3. I have been questioning this annoyance for a year now…I can’t thank you enough for this blog! I no longer have to suddenly react as though I just indulged in a fair share of drugs while in the presence of business associates or my boyfriend while fine dining! Thanks!

    Posted by Jen | January 1, 2011, 2:02 am
  4. I am getting itchy nose in a few minutes after eating anything.
    Sounds like my immune system releases histamin to food. I scratch my nose really hard few times, get a relief and it goes away. Who knows why?

    Posted by nat10 | January 30, 2011, 4:35 am
    • Hi there!
      It’s always difficult to tell with things like this… An itchy nose sounds like it could be due to histamine (although it might be other things). It’s probably worth trying to see if there is a pattern to when you get your itchy nose. Is it certain foods? Hot foods, cold foods? Certain times of the day or in certain places??

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | January 30, 2011, 9:06 am
  5. I have a very itchy nose on/off benadral helps alot could it be almonds or walnuts that is what i have increased in my diet over the past few months not right after i eat maybe a few hours later Thank Youi

    Posted by Lois Woods | February 27, 2011, 6:50 pm
    • Hi Lois!
      I understand that peanuts, cashews and walnuts have a fair amount of histamine in them. It can be notoriously difficult to work out what causes these types of symptoms. Benadryl contains an antihistamine (Diphenhydramine) that will work against runny nose/itchy nose problems. Such symptoms could be due to a mild nut allergy, histamine intolerance or even something in the environment (e.g. grass pollen) that perhaps you haven’t thought of.
      A ‘few’ hours seems like a long time for it to be because of something you are eating – but could be possible.

      Histamine intolerance would mean symptoms after eating ANY histamine rich food (a bit more information is here: http://www.michiganallergy.com/food_and_histamine.shtml) whereas a nut allergy will only occur with nuts.

      I’m not an expert, but helpful suggestions for anyone might be:
      – Try to remove JUST ONE thing from your diet for several days to see if it helps (see http://foodallergies.about.com/od/diagnosingfoodallergies/p/eliminationdiet.htm for more info) – such elimination diets must be done carefully and would be best done under the guidance of a doctor or other suitably qualified professional.
      – Always seek medical advice if symptoms are worrying or troublesome

      Hope that this helps!

      Stu

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | February 28, 2011, 6:06 pm
  6. The itching makes so much more sense now! I have been trying, for the longest time, to figure out what the heck was making my nose itch like crazy when I eat certain things. It used to be most noticeable while eating lasagna…and sometimes when I ate sandwiches or spaghetti/pasta, but not always. Which made it difficult to pinpoint what ingredient might be causing it. I think it might get worse if you start combining ingredients…like the cheese and tomato puree in a lasagna. Thanks for your informative post!

    Posted by Zana | February 27, 2011, 11:38 pm
    • Thanks for getting in touch Zana!
      It’s odd isn’t it? I only get itching rarely, but my wife always notices it after lasagne (particularly if she enjoys it with red wine and then chocolates)! Strong cheeses and tomato purée definitely have plenty of histamine in them (a list of histamine-rich foods can be found in this article:http://www.buzzle.com/articles/histamine-rich-foods.html ). Because histamine-rich foods can be foods that you would never associate together (like mushrooms and yoghurt) tracking it down as the cause of the problem can be tricky… Hope you can enjoy pastas and pizzas without too much worry! :)

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | February 28, 2011, 6:22 pm
  7. This is personally the best explanation for this ‘syndrome’. I’m from Argentina, and I tried searching for something like this in both languages, english and spanish, ’cause my nose itches REALLY bad when I eat cheese or mayonnaise. Thank you so much, this was kind of an existential question :)

    Posted by Maggie | March 17, 2011, 1:12 am
  8. wow!! thanks ~SO~ much! this has been driving me mad for years! when i asked my doctor about it, she thought maybe it was just my face getting flushed from eating, but i could pinpoint it to sometimes (but not always) being associated with seafood… for example, when i eat sushi, i don’t get itchy nose, which in retrospect, would make sense since i don’t drink red wine with sushi.

    …but last night, i had an anchovy heavy dish with red wine and my nose itched so much that i nearly scratched my it off my face. after a bit of googling i stumbled upon your site.

    thank you! problem solved, indeed!

    Posted by lorelei | April 18, 2011, 5:55 am
  9. A very interesting hypothesis! I often get an itchy nose when eating in restaurants, though I don’t recall it happening at home. Here are a few data points for you: I found this post while wondering why I got an itchy nose while eating chicken spring rolls and jacket wedges for dinner (I’d searched previously but not found anything.) I did not get an itchy nose while eating chicken cordon bleu and fries for lunch, or boiled egg and cottage cheese on toast for breakfast. Somebody suggested it could be nerves caused by eating with other people in restaurants, but this evening I ate alone.

    So perhaps it was soy sauce or something like that in the spring rolls. I’m not sure what else can be deduced from all that except that the egg came first.

    Posted by Angela Brett | April 26, 2011, 7:21 pm
    • Thanks for the comment Angela!
      My first guess would be soy sauce, but if it were histamine intollerance then you would likely experience it with other histamine rich foods (see list above). You could always try soy sauce and other fermented/histamine rich foods to see if you get the same symptoms.
      I think it’s difficult to be sure in retrospect, because the amount of histamine in different products varies so much.
      You could always try a low-histamine diet (there is a link above) and see if that stops it – but it doesn’t look like a particularly fun diet…

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | April 26, 2011, 8:04 pm
  10. Very nice, now can you explain why, frequently, I sneeze when I drink water or other cold drinks.
    Surely there’s no histamine in bottled or tap water?

    Posted by Tony McCoy O'Grady | April 26, 2011, 7:48 pm
    • Interesting! Thanks for the comment Tony, You are quite right – there is no histamine in water!
      Not sure why you get the sneezing, although I’ll have a good time trying to work it out:
      Occasionally, people have a sneeze reflex on a full stomach (it’s called ‘Snatiation’)! So, it could be possible that drinking causes your stomach to fill rapidly and trigger a sneeze… Could this be you?

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | April 26, 2011, 8:14 pm
  11. Hi :)

    Your article was so interesting and helpful!!

    I frequently get an itchy nose whilst eating out in resturants – particularly Indian and Mexican – do you think it’s likley to be the histamine?

    Could the problem be solved by taking an anti-histamine tablet before meals?

    I do find it strange I only get the itchy nose whilst eating out though!

    thanks ever so :)

    Posted by Tiffany | May 3, 2011, 10:06 pm
    • Hi Tiffany!
      It could be histamine, however I am not at liberty to advise on medications you should try – best speak to your family doctor first.
      One reason to urge caution is that there may be other ingredients that are triggering these symptoms – as you mention Indian and Mexican food, it could be chillies! Some people have an adverse reaction to chillies (although few as severe as this one: http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2008/09/how-chilis-can-kill.html )
      Also, the idea of histamine triggering the common ‘nose itch’ after eating is a hypothesis I have made (and I may be wrong). One good way to find out if histamine is the culprit for you is to try sampling histamine rich foods (e.g. soy sauce, bacon, cured meats, red wine) to see if these trigger an itchy nose. Alternatively, adpot a histamine-free diet and see if the symptoms vanish! (you should speak to a professional/nutritionist before adopting a low histamine diet).
      Histamine Rich Foods: http://www.ukmasto.co.uk/Histamine_Rich_Foods.htm

      Let me know if you find a solution! :)

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | May 4, 2011, 3:20 pm
      • What a thoughtful article.

        The tip of my nose started itching an hour ago, and I recall that I had a sugar-glazed doughnut around that time. Wonder if the one was caused by the other. I dabbed some lotion just now, after reading somewhere that skin irritations are exacerbated by dryness, and the itch has gone away (so far).

        Would you know whether it is true – and if so, why – more people seem to be developing allergies to peanuts?

        Posted by Tina | May 11, 2011, 3:10 pm
        • Hi Tina, Thanks for your comment!
          You’ve picked up on an interesting point. :)
          In recent years concern about allergies has escalated hugely. A steady flow of news stories reporting that nut allergies are on the rise is probably at least in part to blame for this.
          There is some research to justify these concerns (one research paper – http://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(07)01388-7/abstract – calls it an ‘epidemic’ although if you read at the bottom you will see the author has some interesting conflicts of interest!!)
          The key points are:
          – there has been a slight rise in peanut allergies in recent years (no one knows why)
          – children who eat peanuts from an early age are less likely to develop an allergy to it
          – A quarter of children with peanut allergies outgrow it
          – on the whole, rates of serious peanut allergies are low
          – the public fear about peanut allergies seems to be grossly out of proportion to the threat they pose.
          Check out http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/are-nut-bans-promoting-hysteria/ for an enlightening read.
          Hope that helps!
          Stu

          Posted by Stuart Farrimond | May 12, 2011, 4:10 pm
      • Thank-you for your reply!!

        I did begin to wonder if it could be the chilli, however I never actually eat chillis myself as I find my mouth burns terribly!! but it could be in the air?

        Strangly, I got the itch in a greek resturant recently, and then I noticed I had it when eating round a family members house, but I never get it at home!! It does perplex me why it only ever happens when im out?

        I might give the sampling histamine rich foods a go and see what happens I think, I definitely want to rid this itch!! :)

        Tiff

        Posted by Tiffany | May 23, 2011, 7:58 pm
        • True, it could be in the air. I remember when I was a student working in kitchens that cooking with chillis meant I could feel it getting in my eyes and nose.
          It sounds weird, the most scientific way of working it out might be to keep a diary of what you eat and when you get the symptoms. Then you could try to work out which foods give you the itch – and perhaps try them again at another time and see if you get the same symptoms.
          It’s often very difficult to work out what it is in food that gives odd symptoms because there’s so many different factors at play – what ingredients were used, the temperature of eating, what was drunk at the meal, etc, etc…
          Keep on trooping – I reckon you’ll work it out! I would generally advise against doing a ‘high street’ so-called-allergy test as they are mostly pretty poor and are unlikely to give you the complete answer.

          Posted by Stuart Farrimond | May 25, 2011, 10:19 am
    • When one is around copper rich people(those who have high copper blood levels)….itchy nose can happen as their bodies try to dump their copper load on you. Also, yin foods can also cause itchy nose….its better to eat yang food to stop itchy nose.

      Posted by Zac | August 8, 2012, 7:28 am
  12. Thank you so much for writing this! My itchy nose has been bugging me for a long time now and since it’s fairly inconsistent i couldn’t figure out what caused it. I get it almost every day but after different meals and it drives me nuts. I’m definitely going to pay more attention to high-histamine foods from now on.

    Posted by Mel | May 30, 2011, 1:31 am
  13. Hi, Gosh it is good to see I am not alone. I thought I was going crazy. Like Angela, it only happens in restaurants, and not every time and can happen when I drink white wine just as well as red. Maybe it is food related but I would eat similar foods at home without any problems. And it can disappear really quickly when I leave the restaurant, I was wondering if it was cleaning chemicals (in the dishwasher?) or something in the atmosphere? Maybe the notion of it being food related is too obvious?

    Posted by Siobhan | June 5, 2011, 9:41 pm
    • This exact same thing has been happening to me for at least a year now! Only in restaurants never at home! Every time I go to a restaurant I get an itchy nose and it drives me crazy..my friends were telling me it is all in my head haha.

      Posted by Jules | June 11, 2011, 11:39 am
  14. Looking for answers…and found your site. My question relates to your wife’s itchy nose…but seems more serious. Last Sunday, Father’s Day we ate carry out Chinese & I forgot to mention no MSG. Years ago i had a reaction although different than this present one. This time within an hour i had breathing problems ( i have a nebulizer due to other asthma problems), then later hands became red and terrif8ic itch. Then a headache which i never have! i finally connected the dots to MSG and yesterday ( thought I was getting better)…thinking time would help.but last evening this itching on my hands got worse. This is driving me a bit crazy…any thoughts?
    I have discovered aging bring many strange problems! I am 72 & until 3-4 yrs ago life was good! Then a bronco dilator I used only once a day stopped working! Dr sent me to a Pulminologist who diagnosed Mycoplasma Pneumoniae! Didn’t think I actually had an asthmatic condition left from bronchitis years before so prescribed many antibiotics to cure bacteria… made me so sick I ended up in the hospital 6 mos later. Changed Dr’s who put me back on asthma medication and I was better but not great. 2 yrs later after many ups & downs I was finally diagnosed with ABPA….allergic bronco pulmonary aspergillus! Who ever heard of such a thing? I think somewhat rare in this country but prevalent in the UK due to climate. Mine is non invasive at this time…a good thing as people die from the invasive type! Aspergillus is a mold & where I contracted it I have no idea. ( Eventually stumbled on to a very wise Dr Pulmonologist who suspected a trigger to asthma & sent me to his partner, an allergist. I told them i had no allergy’s and i was correct to a point…. no reaction to all of his pricks on my back UNTIL he tried aspergillus on my arm…nearly fainted! So now on prednisone…small amount every other day.) A chronic condition with lots of ups & downs and seem to be affected by many things. Also just discovered i have very low D…so now on large dosed Vit D once a week! Could go on & on but suffice to say i am somewhat of a mess! Now this MSG thing. Any thought on what to do now? i can handle the breathing problem but the extreme itiching is driving me a bit batty! Last evening my husband finished the left over Chinese and i had Lipton’s chicken soup thinking that would be mild and safe…then itching flared again! Must I go on a diet of no MSG which i understand is in nearly everything, to get rid of this? I have had nothing to eat this morning except Sunsweet PlumSmart…a juice with fiber. Maybe there is something in that although it says no gluten. Any thought you might have would be helpful! I am hungry but afraid to eat anything! Maybe an apple!
    Thank you for reading my dissertation of health problems…my husband is ready to trade me in for two 20’s!
    Ann

    Posted by Ann KW | June 21, 2011, 3:08 pm
    • Hi Ann!
      It sounds like you’re having a time of it. I cannot offer you any specific medical advice (it would not be right, professional or legal for me to do so).
      However, if you look at the evidence (as explained in the above article) there is VERY LITTLE (if any) evidence to suggest that MSG is a trigger for symptoms. This is a somewhat contencious issue and many people staunchly believe that MSG can be a trigger for such symptoms. The article I have written above speculates that histamine in food may have caused my wife’s itchy nose because high histamine foods seem to trigger the symptoms in her (although this is purely a hypothesis and not substatiated by scientific studies).
      I would always recommend anyone with serious or distressing symptoms to seek professional medical advice (which it sounds as if you are doing) – and if you are considering an exclusion diet to find if there is a dietary factor for your symptoms, then seeing a nutrition specialist should be done. Sadly, there are many reasons to trigger an itch and it may take some time to get to the bottom of it…
      I hope apples don’t cause you any problems (personally, I love them)!

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | June 22, 2011, 2:36 pm
  15. Thank-you! I woke up with just the tip of my nose, bright red and verrrry itchy. I was trying to slim down for a wedding…so I was on my 3rd day of eating just home-made minestrone soup for every meal…lots and lots of tomatoes. I know Doc, not smart. I lost 5 lbs but now I have to go to the wedding looking like Rudolph…not a good trade-off.

    Posted by imrock | June 30, 2011, 8:42 pm
  16. Great article you wrote. I just finished with some onion rings from burger king and my nose started itching like crazy!! I usually only really notice my nose itching like this after I eat chinese food or things that are deep fried. And now I know why! Thanks!

    Posted by Christine Kasprzak | July 9, 2011, 7:28 pm
    • Hi Christine!
      Pleased to help :)
      Onions aren’t known for having high levels of histamine. Well known sources include cheese and some ketchups/relishes. I guess you could try skipping these next time you head to BK and see if it helps?!
      Thanks for commenting

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | July 10, 2011, 8:54 pm
  17. I cannot believe I am reading about people with the strange ‘itchy nose in a restaurant’ complaint! I have had this for a few years now and I hate to think that I am allergic to dining out!? That’s just wouldn’t be fair. I too have thought that maybe all these different eating establishments use the same table cleaner but what sort of weird coincidence would that be!? It happens in different countries, with different foods, with different people, with alcohol or without. It even happens before the food even gets to the table! I would LOVE to get to the bottom of this peculiar issue.

    Posted by Gill Hammond | July 9, 2011, 9:49 pm
    • Hey Gill, thanks for commenting!
      It is amazing how many people have the problem. My theory (and alas, it has yet to be proven… anyone want to do some research??) is that it is histamine that causes the symptom because a) it is common in a lot of modern cuisine b)low levels of histamine intolerance have observed in a significant proportion of ‘normal’ individuals under experimental conditions and c)histamine is a chemical that triggers allergy-like symptoms
      If my hypothesis is true, then it could well explain why you experience symptoms in a variety of settings. A fairly decent list of histamine-rich and histamine-releasing foods can be found here: http://www.ukmasto.co.uk/Histamine_Rich_Foods.htm (although if you have access to academic journals e.g. through a University, then you can access more detailed information)
      How odd that you experience an itchy nose BEFORE food!!
      Something you’ve drunk perhaps? (e.g. beer/wine), or perhaps food is a complete red herring (forgive the pun – another high histamine food :) )
      Mmm.. a puzzle – do let us know if you get to the bottom of it.
      Good luck!

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | July 10, 2011, 9:04 pm
    • Also, I’ve also been amazed at how many people have this problem. I wrote this article last November and day in day out it still gets a pretty large number of views and comments…
      Maybe one day a definitive answer will be found!!

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | July 10, 2011, 9:07 pm
  18. Very interesting explanation ! the only convincing one on the web !

    I have had the itchy-tip-of-nose syndrome since I was about 28-30 – my organism less sensitive to histamine before that ?
    I usually have it after wine and sometimes after beer, and now that you make me think about, last time I had it real bad I had had lots of cheese and beer (I thought the latter was the culprit, due to conservatives in it).
    What I find amazing is how extremely localised the itch is, and it’s on the left side of the very tip of my nose, in a small area 1-2 mm wide. I don’t understand why the itch concentrates there !?
    Cheers
    Cecilia

    Posted by Cecilia | July 19, 2011, 1:52 pm
    • Thanks Cecilia!
      Bizarre isn’t it?
      Can’t offer you a convincing answer I’m afraid. Although, the problem is so widespread I’m considering doing some further (serious) investigation. I might even write a book… (!)
      Thanks for commenting :)
      Stu

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | July 20, 2011, 10:29 am
  19. A great theory, but what about this? I used to wait tables and, before I’d even eaten anything, I would sometimes get an itchy nose. I’ve theorized that certain commercial cleaners might cause this because I never get an itchy nose after eating at home, only in restaurants, and the itching will usually go away as soon as I leave the restaurant or, sometimes, once I’ve washed my face in the bathroom. I’d love to hear your ideas. Thanks!

    Posted by muendy | July 22, 2011, 7:44 pm
    • Mmm… Clearly histamine can’t be the whole story. What could it be that sets it off? Commercial cleaners – I guess it’s possible. I guess one way to find out would be to ask the restaurants what cleaning products they use??
      Histamine isn’t the only ‘pruogen’ (chemical to cause itch) – although it is the main one. There are also a variety of different things that can trigger the body to produce ‘prurogens’ and a legion of causes of itch. In fact, the more you explore, the more complicated and confusing the topic becomes.
      The story you tell would suggest that there is something in those environments to cause an ‘allergy-like’ response. Quite what it is requires some clever detective work…

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | July 25, 2011, 11:34 am
  20. Thanks for solving this mystery. The tip of my nose itches like crazy about 10 min. into certain meals, but it only happens when I’m very hungry. Could it also be related to low blood sugar and/or an empty stomach?

    Posted by Pamela Weber | July 27, 2011, 12:57 am
    • Hey Pamela,
      Thanks for commenting. I can’t offer you a definite answer. I continue to be staggered how common this problem is – and how many different triggers there are for it. I think I’m going to start contacting some ‘itch experts’ to get some clearer answers. I’ll let you know when I find out :)

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | August 3, 2011, 9:08 pm
  21. this has been really helpful as i get a terribly itchy nose after eating chips, pizza, bread, potatos and breaded chicken. It does my head in. It feels like there is hundreds of ants under my skin, also makes me feel sick and bloated.

    Posted by bexy | August 10, 2011, 6:25 pm
  22. Hi!
    I just had an itchy nose as usual from eating something spicy (Curse my love for spicy things!), and felt it was time to atleast google… and found your little research. I feel that the things you’ve pointed out makes sense, and from now, I’m gonna record whenever I get itchy nose to help you out for all our noses sake!

    I got one little question on my mind though. Just the other day, I was out and playing airsoft. For the first time I tried on some face camoflage paint. Now, my nose started itching like crazy (at least as bad as spicy stuff)… But only my nose? When I itched my nose until the paint came off.. it got better. I dont have the paint ingredients, but could it be something in it that I’m reacting to, or might the paint have clogged my pores which in turn made it itchy?
    Might be un-related so I hope the question doesnt bug you.

    Good luck with the research!
    Best regards from Sweden

    Posted by Johan Streiffert | September 5, 2011, 2:20 am
    • Hi Johan,
      Thanks for the question.
      Based on what you’ve said (and other’s comments) – it really does seem as if there is something about the tip of the nose that makes it itch more easily than any other part of the body.
      I don’t know why… I’ll have to hunt down an ‘itch expert’…
      Will do my best!
      Take care :)
      Stu

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | September 7, 2011, 3:06 pm
  23. After one of the early paragraphs I was expecting to see pictures of flowers at the end lol

    Posted by Scot | October 1, 2011, 5:30 pm
  24. Well, imagine my surprise when I googled ‘why do I get an itchy nose after eating out’ – I didn’t really expect anything to come up (then why did I do the search you may ask) – I thought I was the only one. The very tip of my nose itches like crazy only when I eat out (most times but not every time) – it has never happened at home. Judging by the number of people who say they never get it at home, there must be some link here? I wonder if it to do with the napkins/serviettes, rather that the food. i don’t use a serviette at home, but do when eating out – maybe there is some perfume or dye in them that irritates the tip of the nose when wiping your mouth? (this could explain the waiter/ess that suffered the itch too if they are setting the table/clearing tables)

    I have no food allergies that I know of, but do suffer from hay-fever in the spring/summer. Tonight I had lasagne in our local pub (so could be the cheese or the tomatoes) and got the itching but I do have lasagne at home too, with no itching. I don’t drink, so beer and wine are not triggers for me. I eat fish out (get itching) and at home (no itching) – so my next step is to have lasagne again at the same pub and not to touch the serviette and see what the results are.

    Incidentally, it seems most (if not all) sufferers are female – another link?

    Thanks for the article, an interesting read and nice to know I am not alone
    Helen
    PS I’ll volunteer to be a guinea pig for research too :)

    Posted by Helen | October 5, 2011, 11:09 pm
    • Hi Helen,

      I’ll count you in for future research!

      Wow – plenty to go on here… I think we definitely need to do some experimenting. Perhaps “eating experiments into post-food itchy nose syndrome” could be an entrant for next year’s Ignobel Prize? http://improbable.com/ig/

      Anyone care to fund (and cook) for such research for the betterment of humankind?

      Thanks for your comment!

      Stu

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | October 8, 2011, 8:27 am
    • Ok so here I was combing the web to hopefully discover that I wasn’t going crazy. I had noticed that my nose would start itching like crazy after eating certain meals. I was shocked last night when I had canned Campbell’s soup and had the same reaction. Much to my amazement only 1 thing was constant with the foods involved. They were all Italian in origin. My 1st thought of course was maybe the seasonings. NOPE. The only constant between all of the dishes was grated Romano cheese. Mind you I am now 39 and have never noticed any sort of reaction to cheeses until now yet I had only recently found 100% grated Romano cheese. Mystery solved! For me at least. This could explain the lasagne in the restaurant giving you issues yet not the dish at home.

      Posted by Tami | November 4, 2011, 2:31 pm
  25. I get extremely itchy palms and fingers after drinking red wine. So bothersome that I have considered not drinking it at all. What a horrible life that would be : (. I always felt that it was an allergic reaction. Last night I had red wine AND pizza. What a night that turned out to be. I couldn’t stop scratching my palms until I fell asleep.

    Posted by Cindy | October 11, 2011, 8:47 pm
  26. This article was so informative and wonderful…. I actually loved the way you wrote all the “HUGE INFORMATION” in such light humorous way…. If it weren’t so, I would have skipped the article after reading one or two lines….yeah em not much of a reader of huge words… LOL….

    I suffer the same situation and its very annoying specially when you are out in a posh hotel and you suddenly start scratching your nose….

    okay QUESTION TIME….

    My nose does itch after random meals so reading your article, I realize its some allergy… But my nose will also itch just RANDOMLY even when I have not eaten anything for a long time….It will just start itching…. any reason why it happens???

    P.S: YES I AM ITCHING MY NOSE WHILE WRITING THIS….**scratches nose again** lol

    P.S2: **Nominates the Blog in Noble Prize and votes it several times**

    Posted by Ashley Browns | October 14, 2011, 12:43 pm
  27. I recently had blood test for allergies from a Natural path Doc. I always had itchy nose, ears and throat after eating. I had the skin test done and was told I was allergic to cats, dogs and dust but no food. The natural path Doc. sent my blood work out and a month later the overwhelming response was that I was allergic to eggs and all things dairy. I already didn’t eat much dairy due to tummy aches. But never thought of eggs. I have taken eggs out of my diet and most all dairy. Now on the occasion that I accidentally eat an egg or eat something that has dairy in it my face, nose and ears explode in immediate itching and burning.

    Posted by Deborah Lozares | October 17, 2011, 6:30 am
  28. written well .it has helped,thanking you

    Posted by allen moss | October 19, 2011, 1:42 pm
  29. This explains alot!! I just ate Popeye’s chicken and dip in ranch and the tip of my nose itched like crazy. I’t happens to me occasionally, but not so much or noticeably that I’ve raise the question or did any research but this time if was very noticeable.. I have been on a healthy eating diet for about 2 weeks, and I out the blue I ate Popeyes bad decision I guess, lol. But yes I think this is exactly what happening, I had no idea there were other people out there with the same thing… Thank you for this expatiation!

    Posted by N Walker | October 19, 2011, 8:34 pm
  30. My son is lactose intolerance and eats very little. He is on a special dietary formula via a peg. When he eats small amounts of food, eg. hot chips and now calamari and mayonaise his nose itches like crazy. I always thought it was the salt? I noticed recently the mayonaise has msg in it. What do they all have in common? We also avoid chicken salt as every time he has had chicken salt on chips he has had a seizure. I will keep a diary of when and what he eats and reactions. We see the dietician tomorrow so I will be asking more questions. Thanks again.

    Posted by Tanya | October 30, 2011, 2:02 am
  31. I occasionally get an itchy nose after eating. After monitoring it for the past year or so I found that it was mostly when I ate fish. Tonight I got the itchy nose after eating pasta and drinking red wine, so I googled it to see what else it might have been. Seems that your findings are quite correct! I also suffer from hayfever during spring so it makes sense that eating foods high in histamines would affect me.

    Posted by Ashlea Wheeler | November 18, 2011, 10:36 am
  32. Hello – I get the itchy nose but I have never been able to pinpoint why! Not all wine makes me itch but it has happened often enough when drinking wine that I recognize it is a trigger. I used to blame lemons but that is not consistent either. My first remembered itchy experience was after having lunch with somebody that squeezed lemons into her tea and I assumed that set me off. This is sporadic and can last for hours and in some instances I cannot barely get to sleep at night. I will take a wet rag to bed with me to continually wipe my face to hopefully sleep. Sometimes I will not experience for months and then suddenly wham! Typically this affects just my nose but I have noticed when it is bad my arms and sometimes hands will have itchy spots.

    I am careful not to change shampoo and soap to much as I have found that certain products have set me off. Those are usually the worst episodes too! I blame on the product because it was typically after I tried something new and if I stopped the itching would appear to stop. It really is hard to diagnose the cause. In addition, I have not found anything that relieves the itching off the allergy shelf. I did get tested for allergies several years back and it was all negative.

    Posted by Kylie Reynolds | November 22, 2011, 3:41 am
  33. Brill – Thank you so much for this article. I was in Pizza express today and along came my itchy nose as always. It really annoys me – and stops me enjoying my food near the end of dinner. I sit with a cold beer glass on it to try and cool it down! Do you think it would help taking an anti histamine before going for dinner?

    Posted by sue monger | November 26, 2011, 9:22 pm
  34. My ears itch internally (the itching is very intense too) after eating anything spicy such as salsa or any food prepared with hot peppers. Dose anyone else have this problem?

    Posted by DU | December 6, 2011, 5:22 pm
  35. No itchy nose for me, but i get a runny nose and sometimes a few sneezes after a glass (and sometimes even after just a sip) of red wine. I also get a little flushed, hot palms, a little sweaty, and lots of sinus draining. Is that still the same histamine issue in effect?

    Posted by Don | December 12, 2011, 3:51 am
  36. Histamine can also form in seafood that is not stored consistently in correct temperatures. The following gives a simple background which I found interesting:

    http://www.health.vic.gov.au/archive/archive2011/foodsafety/archive/downloads/histamines_summary.pdf

    Posted by Naomi | December 17, 2011, 12:55 pm
  37. Oh gtreat, I am not insane after all, i just itch like a maniac during my meals. I will have to pay more attention to what I eat. I thought it was possibly the iodine in the salt.

    Posted by Julie Alicea | December 22, 2011, 8:49 pm
  38. I would tend to disagree with parts of what is said in the article. It seems to be an opinion, and not fact derived from scientific tests, and this type of article can be misleading. I suffer from food intolerences from a range of foods that cause itching to the roof of my mouth, sneezing, runny nose and some other symptoms. I have had food tests done by York Laborotories [www.yorktest.com], which test a blood sample for anti-bodies for over 200 basic food types. The test is known as the Eliza test. Doctors routinley use this test in Germany, USA, France, but the BMA here in the UK is against it because of the extra cost to the NHS. I had to pay to have it done privately. The test suggests that some of us can become allergic or intolerent to one or more food types. I am intolerent to about 6 things, none of which are listed in the article, but the symptoms are the the same; I am not aware that any of the foods I have the symptoms for are high in histamines, hence I do not believe in a direct connection as suggested in the article. You need to show this to be true scientifically before making comments that could alter peoples eating patterns unnecesarily; people are naturally like sheep when in comes to food scares. Once I abstained from tested foods which I was intolerent to, all my symptoms dissappeared. I sometimes do cheat and have them, since its a low-level intolerence, but tend to avoid these foods on the whole. I have never felt better.

    Posted by Tuyre | January 17, 2012, 9:15 pm
    • Thanks for your comments,
      You are absolutely correct and it is worth reinforcing that this article is entirely speculative. A disclaimer is at the bottom of the post – and any person reading this post should always consult a medical professional before attempting any kind of exclusion diet, or coming to any conclusion without undergoing necessary investigations.
      Yes, as the suggested ‘experiment’ at the end of the post (obviously conducted in a properly randomised controlled manner) would be necessary to go anyway to providing any real evidence.
      The post represents a (hopefully) interesting hypothesis for what appears to be a rather widespread symptom and could be an avenue worthy of further investigation. The basis of the hypothesis is simple:
      1) histamine is a prurogen
      2) it is found in a range of foods that were also the same that induce my wife’s itch
      3) a relative degree of histamine intollerance has been found in a proportion of the population, higher than previous knowledge presumed (see references) based on one well conducted investigation
      4) those with histamine intollerance experience allergy-like symptoms when eating high histamine foods
      Please no one make any personal medical decisions based on this (entirely speculative and light-hearted) post :)

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | January 18, 2012, 12:01 am
  39. There are studies done in the UK that have been done that suggest that allergies and food intolerences have spiraled since chlorines and fluorides were introduced into our water supply to kill of germs and parasites. Our intestinal tracts hold what we all know to be good bacteria, which in turn form the gut flora. Studies have shown a direct correlation to poor gut flora and higher levels of food allergies & intolerences. When water companies were given the go-ahead by goverment to use fluorides and other chemicals, a direct result was an impact on gut flora. Since the late 70s & early 80s a generation of children who grew up with these chemicals in the water have now ended up with more intolrences than ever in history. The powers-that-be believe this is a small price to pay for a cheaper way to obtain water free of germs. It’s not known extactly how good bacteria help us in this way, but its know that killing them off with checmicals over time results in a population with allergies. The establichment knows about this, but would rather keep quiet and bring their own kids up on bottled water.

    Posted by David_S | January 17, 2012, 9:48 pm
  40. Interesting, but I get a severe itchy nose and throat almost every morning about 10 min. after I wake up. It is really bad sometimes and my nose runs like a faucet!!!!! Its so irritating. Sometimes my ears itch along with it. It does not matter if I eat anything or not. If I drink anything or not. This started about 6 or 7 years ago. I’ve been to an allergist. Meds do help some, but I have to almost overdose on them. Help!

    Posted by James Bishop | January 30, 2012, 1:59 pm
  41. I believe a culprit to itching is red dye as well. So many of our foods contain this dye. I sometimes get a reaction after eating and realized all the items were red in color. (strawberry yogurt, cherry jolly rancher, red wine, etc.)
    I itch all over especially scalp, palms, and feet. I have to get a Benadryl right away or I’ll go nuts.
    What do you think?

    Posted by Suzanne | February 22, 2012, 6:02 pm
  42. Hi,

    I’ve been trying to find out for years what causes my itchy nose. I don’t have to eat anything in particular to get it. I got it tonight whilstI was cooking. I hadn’t even got any spices out when it started & I was only cooking a variety of vegetables.

    In severe cases the tip of my nose is rubbed red raw & the itching last hours, despite applying cold water/ice/washing face/applying creams etc, etc. Any suggestions as to why this happens when I haven’t even eaten anything to set it off?

    Posted by Emma Shaw | March 26, 2012, 11:27 pm
  43. Very interesting, thank you! My mother frequently has an itchy nose when we all get together over dinner, and to date we have always made fun of her and said that it’s nerves. But I have just eaten sweet and sour chicken and about half way through my nose started to itch like mad. I then recalled that exactly the same thing happened a couple of weeks ago when I had sweet and sour chicken! So I searched on the internet, and here I am! Sounds like soy sauce could be the culprit.

    So maybe my mother has reactions to histamine after all. Bless her. We’ve all ribbed her so much about it… :-)

    Posted by Nikki Noo | April 5, 2012, 5:58 pm
  44. i get this itchy nose syndrome too occasionally with certain foods tends to be bread when im out on burgers buns or nann breads ive had it too at home doesnt seem too bad when im out i get it quite a lot very strange thought it was just me who got it x

    Posted by karen | April 7, 2012, 3:03 pm
  45. V interesting. I was googling what causes red itchy eyes and came across your blog. I’m 52 and have recently started to develop itchy red eyes, just around the eyelid area. Thinking about what I might be using/eating/drinking I started to suspect red wine might be the cause as it seems to happen after I’ve had a glass or two. So thanks for this, however I’m not giving up the red wine so may have to blame something else!

    Posted by Susie Q | April 14, 2012, 7:55 am
  46. Thank you so much. I often have an itchy nose due to perfume, pet and pollen allergies. I just started noticing that my nose sometimes itches after I eat. Your blog has been extremely helpful. Now I know what foods to avoid.

    Posted by Empress Lockness | May 10, 2012, 8:06 pm
  47. I had strawberries after my lunch then spaghetti bolognaise (tomato purée) for my eve meal followed by more strawberries and all eve & night my nose has been itching like crazy! I had no clue why & on your normal to pain scale it was an itch close to painful! Thanks for your informative blog I’ve now taken some piriton :)

    Posted by Shari | June 15, 2012, 12:46 am
  48. Today I Google search and found very useful answer to my problem. I got post-meal nose itching almost after every meal. I could not identify I got histamine issue or not, because I got itchy nose even with my normal meal like a kind of meat curry and some vegetables. I am an Asian and most of my meal cooked by myself in my own way. But I realized my nose itch seriously after I ate fish or seafood or Indian dishes.My nose itching relieved in about two or three hours after meal. I think it is very embarrassing because sometimes I could not help myself rubbing my nose during my meal. Moreover my nose itch after I used perfumes. Is that a sign of I have histamine intolerance?

    Posted by Ei Kyi | June 20, 2012, 4:30 pm
  49. Hi, Doctor Stu! Thanks for your explanation! My itching is really not bad and only lasts a few minutes, along both sides of my jaw line and in front of my ears. I was just curious as to what it was so I decided to google tonight and found your blog. I had narrowed it down to either onions or tomatoes. Since I tend to cook with both a lot, it has been difficult to pin it down to just one. The other day, I ate some meat loaf that had a lot of onion in it and only a tad of the tomato on top. I started the itching and thought, ok, it’s onions. But the next day, I hate a fresh tomato and bacon sandwich and started itching… Tonight, I ate a fresh tomato sandwich but I peeled the tomato and I haven’t had one itch! So, I’m back to still trying to figure out which it is, the onion or the tomato… But, like I said, it isn’t a very bad itch and doesn’t last long so I really don’t have much to worry about. Thanks again!

    Posted by Mya | July 17, 2012, 4:22 am
  50. In my family, (from mother’s side – also her sisters, and some of my cousins) my daughter and one of my sons- we all have what we call “the chicken itch”. We will have itchy skin- from hands to itchy face, soles of the feet-after eating chicken – it lasts for an hour or so. I thought it may be due to additives put in the chicken- but I have experienced this with game fowl, pheasant and quail my husband has hunted and I have prepared at home- no additives. Some family members do not eat chicken because of this, but most of us eat it and deal with the consequences. The white meat is worse than the dark meat. I have also had the itching from very lean white pork and salmon.

    Posted by Cathy Langford | July 29, 2012, 10:43 pm
  51. “However, after decades of in-depth research it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that MSG is safe to eat.”

    I stopped reading after I saw this. I love how you failed to include a source. What research? What decades? And more importantly who’s research? Obviously not your own. How much is the food industry paying you to write that?

    It’s sad to see the medical community still turning out the same westernized drug pushing bought and paid true ‘Hypocritical Oath’ doctors that we see today and sadly it seems you’re no different.

    Before you say I come from a place of not knowing I’ve worked along side your kind for many a years.

    When will the medical community change from the business of drugging and treating to prevention and curing. My guess is never unfortunately, way too much money involved.

    The reason why you didn’t give much thought to dietary habits prior to your wife’s condition is because as you yourself stated, It’s really not part of your job. When was the last time you questioned a patient about his dietary habits, specifically things like processed foods, MSG, High Fructose, and other Excitoxins? My guess is never and I’d wager quite heavily on it!

    Facts about the dangers of MSG, easily available by doing a simple google search, so ignorance is not an excuse.
    MSG — monosodium glutamate — a chemical that has been associated with reproductive disorders, migraine headaches, permanent damage to the endocrine system, brain cell death, leading to obesity and other serious disorders.

    More info. can be found on this link with cited sources from actual unbiased research…
    http://www.msgexposed.com/page/3/

    Bottom line, MSG is a real food allergy for many people. I’ve known plenty of friends and family members first hand that have had severe allergic reactions to the ingestion of MSG.

    Why don’t more doctors like the one who wrote this article warn you about it? Because of this other simple fact…

    “People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are treated by the health industry, which pays no attention to food.” – Wendell Berry

    Posted by HealthCare is a Right! | August 31, 2012, 8:09 am
    • Pay no attention to scientific articles published in peer reviewed journals. Google as truth litmus test? If “facts” that conform to one’s bias turn up in a Google search, then they must be true – according to “your kind.”

      Posted by Peter | September 8, 2012, 2:37 am
  52. Any time I eat something greasy, I notice my nose itches fiercely–it dawned on me one day that this was the cause when I saw my dog rubbing her face on the carpet after giving her a couple of bites of fish baked with some butter. I rarely give her “treats” like this and know she was being affected the same way. I finally washed my face with soap and the itching stopped.

    Posted by Linda Sessoms | September 22, 2012, 3:59 pm
  53. everytime my nose itch, i apply cold compress.. and it actually works :)

    Posted by theyahyahman | September 25, 2012, 12:17 pm
  54. My daughter gets an itchy nose when she reads to me. She is 9 it’s ears old and I don’t know if this is a habit or if something is causing it to itch. Any ideas? Thanks, Karen

    Posted by Karen | September 29, 2012, 3:46 am
  55. I have been searching for so long for some sort of explanation! This makes complete sense. My nose itches horribly after I eat most of the time–ESPECIALLY if I eat fast food or anything with a substantial amount of salt. It is bothersome, I thought that I may have been touching my face while eating causing the reaction, but after observing for the past few weeks that’s definitely not what it is. The Thanksgiving ham probably was the culprit this past holiday! Thank you for looking for into depth with this, interested to see where this takes you!

    Posted by Megan | November 28, 2012, 1:03 am
  56. Wow thanks so much for finding this out. You are amazing!

    Posted by Ashlee | January 10, 2013, 7:27 am
  57. I’ve had itchy nose syndrome for years and have always wondered why. I’d be glad to be a participant in a study if there ever is one. Now that I see some of the possible causes, I’m going to pay closer attention to what I’ve eaten when it starts. Over the years I’ve developed other odd itches, including initial sun sensitivity which results in hives and an irritating and persistent lower leg deep itch. I’ve gone to dermatologists and tried every cream there is to no avail. What is it that I’m reacting to?

    Appreciate your thoughts and insights, Dr. Stu, and your attempts to solve your wife’s nose issues. You sound like a nice guy. Now if you could just solve mine.

    Posted by Peg | January 29, 2013, 4:27 am
  58. I just ate dried fish and a dozen of quail eggs, now i got itchy nose.

    Posted by Kassy | February 8, 2013, 4:57 am
  59. yes!! itchy nose post meal syndrome solved! i have been wondering about this for years.. i could never really pin it down to any particular food/drink. it is not terribly disruptive, just curious and a little annoying. i had a tofu stir fry with peanut sauce tonight, and my nose started feeling twitchy. i am so glad i found this blog! mystery solved!

    Posted by Ali | March 14, 2013, 1:48 am
  60. Hi,

    Thank you for the info I can somehow explain why my nose gets itchy after eating. I often experience this before after eating dinner. And when I’m already asleep, the itchy nose syndrome happens. It is so annoying that rubbing it cant remove the itchyness. I can still remeber some few instances that it happened to me, one was after eating shawarma (persian food) with rice and another common scenario is after eating french fries. I really wanna find the reason because after I ate lunch today I experienced it again. I ate grilled chicken with soy sauce. I think that common among the food that gets my nose itchy is that they are all oily. The only thing that somehow relieves me is squeezing my nose until some oil on it come out( it is quite gross because it is as if having facial where you remove white heads).

    Posted by Arvin | April 8, 2013, 9:35 am
  61. hi Stu
    my complaint is when i’m out in the cold my nose constantly itch’s inside and out. I don’t have the problem any other time. Its really embarrassing because i end up looking like rudolf lol

    Posted by lyn phillips | April 28, 2013, 11:47 pm
  62. I’m having itchy nose every time i use soy sauce, fish sauce, vinegar, catsup, gravy with my food. Same thing happens when i eat spicy food and chips with cheese powders or even salty food. It’s very itchy and it lasts for like 30minutes to an hour. It even happens while i am still eating. It’s so irritating but ofcourse who can eat without the sauces? What could be the reason behind this?

    Posted by Cleo del rosario | May 11, 2013, 2:36 am
  63. This issue is new to me. While eating just now I did happen to notice the sensation of fluids being pushed up through the roof of my mouth. I think chewing and swallowing creates a pressure that is pushing saliva mixed with foods up into the nasal cavity causing a histamine reaction. Could also explain why my ears sometimes ache when I eat dairy or sugar, it’s making it’s way through my sinuses. I wonder if this always happens but sinus/histamine issues develop with certain individuals.

    Posted by Christine Jurew | May 13, 2013, 2:04 am
  64. thought provoking article! I seem to get an itchy nose whenever I eat non-organic onion. That triggers it every time. If I eat organic onion, I don’t seem to get an itchy nose most of the time. There have been now 2 cases where I’ve bought organic onions (or in the case of today’s, no pesticides but not certified organic – from a local farmers market) and either they lied or there’s more to this equation because my nose started itching like crazy 5 minutes into my curried veggies this eve. Now that I’ve had my fill, my nose has almost entirely stopped itching after just a few minutes (<5) post-meal.

    Posted by Wendy | May 21, 2013, 5:53 am
  65. Just went onto the internet to see if I could find out what causes an itchy nose. Was itching like crazy today. Guess what I had last nite? Pizza and Sangria. Had more pizza for lunch today, and the itching started close to dinnertime. Now I know. Thanks so much!

    Posted by Chris | June 18, 2013, 5:04 am
  66. I’m glad I found this article after I finally got annoyed(enough to take time to google it) by the pesky itch I get often….
    I hadn’t put together the fact that I just ate, and on top of that some of it was cheese.
    This is good to know.
    Thanks for feeding our curious minds!!!
    can’t wait to share!

    Posted by alexa | July 13, 2013, 7:20 am
  67. I’m glad I found the solution. But, how do I cure this “Itchy Nose”. I just realized that the foods you listed were the ones I ate.

    Posted by Shukri HD | August 16, 2013, 1:40 am
  68. Right. Now I’m going back to my local restaurant and am going to order nothing, but just be there for a while and see if it happens. If its environmental, I’ll let you know. I get itchy nose every time I eat there, and never anytime else.

    Posted by Susspishus Keewee | September 22, 2013, 1:41 pm
  69. I love the way you can find answers to such random questions on t’internet!
    For the umpteenth time my five yr old has complained of a madly itchy nose following a tomato-based dinner, so I decided to find out if anyone else suffered such an odd affliction. Now I know! So what now? Is it cruel or even dangerous to continue feeding him such family stables as spaghetti Bolognese? Will it ever go away? Should I have a bottle of antihistamine on hand after tomatoey meals?
    Loved the blog, by the way. Will be reading more. I find this kinda stuff fascinating. Thanks!

    Posted by Josie | October 4, 2013, 7:41 pm
    • I wouldn’t advise an antihistamine. This is a (my) purely untested theory. Generally the best way to find out whether something is causing a symptom is to try not eating specific food/ingredient and see whether it goes away.
      Good luck in your search!

      Posted by Stuart Farrimond | October 5, 2013, 1:28 pm
  70. I get an itchy nose when I get too warm. It’s desperately annoying in summer and the only way I have found to get rid of it is to cool my body down until I’m quite cold then it eases and doesn’t come back till I get too warm again. I’m traditionally quite a cold person and I think it has more to do with not very good temperature regulation. When I’m hot I’m too hot and when I’m cold I’m too cold!

    Posted by Lynda | November 18, 2013, 6:30 am
  71. Hi,

    I was lying on my bed with the i-Pad. It so happened that the i-Pad fell on top of nose. It hurt me.

    From that time onwards, I am feeling my nose itchy, the itchiness a person receives when he/ she is about to sneeze.

    Why does this occur?

    Posted by Ambili Varughese | January 16, 2014, 11:36 am
  72. I often get an itchy nose, eyes (sometimes they water), and itchy face after preparing the food for my family and before I even begin eating?? Then once I begin to ingest the meal all of the symptoms get much worse. Tonight, for example, we had pizza I baked at home, and a salad I prepared. The salad had onions, tomatoes, carrots, romaine, and Kalamata olives. I was so itchy I almost couldn’t finish my meal. Any idea why I would start itching prior to ingesting the food?? If so please email me. Thank You.

    Posted by Hannah | February 2, 2014, 4:14 am
  73. This all makes so much sense. I decided to look up itchy nose cause I’ve been sitting here scratching my nose for the last half hour and it’s not the first time that’s happened. Interestingly enough, I just ate some pizza… Wondering if something similar may be causing interesting symptoms in my cousin. Every time she eats, she gets really cold. Even in summer, she will bring a jacket to a restaurant because she knows she’s going to get really cold when she starts eating.

    Posted by Lauren | June 15, 2014, 7:24 pm
  74. Thank you! Finally I know why the nose itches when I drink wine!

    Posted by Julia | June 16, 2014, 2:06 pm
  75. Thank you for a well researched and thought provoking article, especially like that you detail references to articles at the end. I’m still not convinced MSG is ok to eat, its nothing to do with allergies and more to do with how eating “take away food” amounts of it is meant to mess with your body clock, circadian rhythms. I know the study below is in rats, but was wondering if you had done any research into/or had further details about the negative effects of MSG in this context. http://www.ijnpnd.com/article.asp?issn=2231-0738;year=2012;volume=2;issue=3;spage=251;epage=257;aulast=Kumaravel

    Many thanks again for your lovely blog and your excellent research skills.

    Claire

    Posted by Claire | July 23, 2014, 3:54 pm
  76. Superb article – I was just googling the subject as I noticed I always get an itchy nose eating raw strawberries and raw peas – I was assuming it was the chemicals they spray them with but you raise some very interesting other theories. Very amusingly written too :-)
    Carol.

    Posted by mountaincoward | July 24, 2014, 9:58 pm

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About Dr Stu

Hospital doctor turned lecturer and science communicator, I love trying to answer life's questions - whether it is how our body works or the best way to dunk a biscuit.... Read more...

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