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What Are the Most Common Papaya Side Effects?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Most people are able to eat papaya without any problems, although there are some potential side effects associated with the consumption or use of this fruit. Some of the possible papaya side effects include skin irritation, respiratory problems, or gastrointestinal disturbances. Those who are allergic to products containing latex are usually advised to avoid the use of papaya, as are pregnant or breastfeeding women. One of the most severe side effects of eating papaya is a potentially life-threatening type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Any specific questions or concerns about side effects in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Skin irritation is among the most frequently reported papaya side effects. Itching, swelling, and the development of a rash that resembles eczema may occur as a result of direct contact with papaya or products that contain this fruit. A bright red rash may also appear around the mouth after eating papaya.

Respiratory problems may develop as papaya side effects in those who are sensitive to parts of this fruit. Nasal allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing, and coughing are among the most common respiratory symptoms. Patients with a history of asthma or bronchitis may notice a worsening of symptoms after coming into contact with papaya.

Moderate to severe gastrointestinal disturbances are possible side effects of eating papaya. These symptoms may include nausea, diarrhea, or heartburn. In more serious cases, damage to the esophagus, stomach, or intestines may occur in those who are highly sensitive to fruits such as papaya.

A person who has a latex allergy is likely to also be allergic to papaya and other fruits. The supervising physician will usually provide a list of fruits that should be avoided when a latex allergy is diagnosed. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are usually advised to avoid products containing papaya in order to reduce the risks to the unborn child or infant.

Perhaps the most severe of all of the possible papaya side effects is an allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Symptoms such as chest pain, difficulty breathing, or facial swelling often indicate the presence of this type of allergy. Without immediate medical attention, anaphylaxis can cause permanent brain damage or even death within a matter of minutes. This usually occurs due to severe swelling of the throat, which prevents oxygen from reaching the brain as well as the other organs of the body.

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Discussion Comments
By anon968760 — On Sep 05, 2014

I ate papaya last night and was violently ill until every last bit of it came out of me. It started within 15minutes of eating about a 1/4 cup of very ripe papaya and I ate it on an empty stomach. I remember a similar thing happening a few years ago when I ate papaya enzyme in chewable tablet form; it just was not as painful. And maybe 20 years ago, I had some fresh papaya and was in gastrointestinal distress for a few hours afterward. I didn't eat papaya for a long time after that and have had a few times when the papain enzyme didn't bother me, but I was already in distress from a high fat breakfast.

By troyellis — On Aug 09, 2013

I ate papaya regularly for years, not knowing it was causing problems for me which were not obvious. I am asthmatic, so eating papaya did not help as it can cause respiratory reactions, but being asthmatic, I thought it was what it was. Additionally, papaya could have been the cause of my fibromyalgia. I don't know, but I have totally cut it off. I tried it a few weeks ago and was in bed for a whole day with extreme fatigue! Whether it was because papaya is an imported fruit injected with unknown chemicals or whether it is a reactive food for some, I don't know. But, when I do eat papaya when traveling, I don't seem to have any issues.

What gives I wonder, but wanted to share my story. Do I miss papaya? Not if it the cause of my many symptoms, no thank you.

By backdraft — On Jan 20, 2012

@gravois - Is it possible for you to eat it if someone else cuts it up and you eat it with a fork. Do you have any internal reactions? Just curious.

By gravois — On Jan 19, 2012

@truman12 - I have an allergy to papaya. Any time I touch it or eat it my lips and fingers get irritated. I am not normally prone to skin problems and it only happens when I eat papaya so I am pretty sure of the cause.

This wasn't always a problem for me. In fact it didn't seem to start until about half way through my 20s. Before this I loved to eat papaya. One day I was at a backyard BBQ and they had papaya served several ways. I ended up having to leave because I had such a strong allergic reaction.

Now I pretty much avoid papaya entirely. I will test it every once in a while but it doesn't seem to be getting any better. I have never talked to an allergist about my problem but maybe there is a treatment possible.

By truman12 — On Jan 18, 2012

An allergy to papaya, I have never heard of such a thing. Thank God I don't have it. Papaya is one of my favorite things to eat and I would probably go mad if I couldn't.

The article makes it sound like it's not very common, but if there is an article about it it can't be that rare. Does anyone out there have this problem? Are you allergic to many things or is it just papaya? This really has me curious.

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