Can I end up with an allergic reaction to cocoa?

Fact Checked

An allergic reaction to cocoa is considered rare. In case a reaction arises after consuming cocoa or other related products, it might be a reaction to another ingredient in the product.

What are the possible culprits?

If the cacao bean is ground into powder form, it is exposed to the surfaces and other substances. The equipment might be utilized to process other products and the powder might be mixed with sweeteners and preservatives before added to a chocolate product.

For skin rashes, the doctor might prescribe antihistamines or lotions.

The conventional chocolate bars include not only cacao beans, but other ingredients such as milk, sugar, nuts, artificial sweeteners, soy, wheat, caffeine and corn syrup. An individual with gluten or lactose intolerance might react to the wheat or milk while those with nut allergy might react to the peanut oil or peanut bits. In some cases, chocolate might also include nickel which can trigger skin reactions in some individuals.

What are the signs?

The symptoms often linked with allergies to cocoa or related products include:

  • Hives
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Rectal itching
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing

In severe cases, exposure to cocoa can trigger anaphylaxis or a severe reaction with symptoms such as confusion, shortness of breath, chest pain, rapid drop in the blood pressure, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, diarrhea and loss of consciousness. If these symptoms are present, seek emergency care help right away.


If an individual is allergic to the cacao beans, he/she must avoid all products that include cocoa. Any cola products must be carefully considered since the antigens might be linked and can trigger similar allergic reactions.

In case an individual is sensitive to a component often mixed with cocoa, carefully read to labels before consumption.

Depending on the seriousness of the allergy, the individual should use a medical alert ID bracelet. If the doctor prescribes epinephrine, the individual should have it on hand always. For skin rashes, the doctor might prescribe antihistamines or lotions while digestive issues might require an antacid or anti-diarrheal drug.

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