Why Does Kiwi Sting Your Mouth? How To Tell If You’re Allergic

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Medically reviewed by Othman Lahmaydi, RDH

That tingling sensation you get when you eat kiwi is incredibly common and normal. Like pineapple, eating too much can cause tingling in your cheeks, tongue, and lips, given it has a natural enzyme that attacks the proteins in your saliva. However, sometimes it can also be something more severe like an allergy.

Kiwi has an enzyme called Actidin that attacks the proteins in your mouth and causes a tingling sensation. You could also be allergic to kiwi, especially if you are already allergic to latex. So contact your doctor if you suffer from an itchy mouth or more severe allergy symptoms.

Knowing which category you fall into is vital to your future in eating kiwi. So when that tingling sensation becomes more of an itch or burn and is accompanied by other more severe allergic reactions, it is best not to partake in that sweet fruit. 

Are Kiwis Supposed to Tingle?

young woman eating kiwi fruit

Acids and Enzymes

It’s very common for kiwis to produce a slight itch or tingle on the tongue when you eat them. Like pineapple, which has the bromelain enzyme and causes that burning sensation when you overeat.

Kiwi also has a reactive, protein-digesting enzyme known as actidin, which, essentially, begins to consume the proteins on your tongue, cheeks, and gums of your mouth.

There is nothing dangerous about consuming this enzyme because your mouth easily replaces the lost protein within a few hours. So you might go to bed with an itchy tongue but wake up perfectly fine. 

In addition to having actidin enzymes, there is also a high acidity content in kiwi, known as oxalic acid, which has a similar effect. 

Eating Kiwi with Other Fruit

If you eat a lot of fruit and then consume a kiwi, the burning sensation might be more aggressive since it will react to the acids in other fruit that have also worn away the proteins in your mouth. 

To avoid that tingling feeling when eating kiwi, many people cook it. The heat destroys all actidin content and, therefore, will not burn your mouth.

Alternatively, you can experiment with eating dried Kiwi (on Amazon), which has a much lower moisture content, and thus, less of the acidic fruit juice that’s contributing most to the stinging sensation you’re feeling.

When it Doesn’t Tingle

Sometimes a kiwi doesn’t tingle when they usually do for you. This is because it can be ripe enough not to give that sensation. As a kiwi ripens, it loses the potency of the actidin, making it less likely to cause an effect in your mouth. 

There are other times as well that a kiwi might not sting, and that is after a high-fat meal. The extra fat consumed provides a protective layer along the tongue, cheeks, and gums that then stop the enzyme and acid from digesting the natural proteins in your saliva and mouth. 

How Common is a Kiwi Allergy?

Portrait of happy little kid eating kiwi in high chair

Kiwi is a common fruit eaten worldwide, but despite its popularity, it is becoming one of the most common food allergies worldwide. In addition, some people who experience symptoms when eating unrelated food might have a condition called cross-reactivity.

It occurs when the body’s immune system identifies specific proteins or components as structurally similar and then triggers that burning response. 

The most common cross-reactivity foods include apples, peaches, hazelnuts, peanuts, and carrots. With kiwis, it is generally associated with birch pollen and latex since 30 to 70 percent of people with a latex allergy have one with kiwi.


There are multiple symptoms of a kiwi allergy than just the normal enzymes tingling in your mouth. You most likely have a mild allergy to kiwi if you have itchy lips, mouth, or tongue after eating the fruit. That is more than just the familiar tingle accompanied by skin rashes. 

More severe cases of a kiwi allergy can be life-threatening and include:

  • Difficulty breathing or asthma-like symptoms
  • Swelling of the mouth and throat
  • Numbness of the lips and throat
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Dizziness and loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting, cramping, or diarrhea
  • Drop in blood pressure

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you need to call your emergency services for assistance. 

So if you have an itchy mouth or throat after eating kiwi, you might have an allergy, especially if you are allergic to pollen or latex. Oral Allergy Syndrome or Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome is when your immune system reacts to particular proteins in plant foods and tree pollen, which includes kiwi.

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