What Can I Use If I’m Allergic to Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil has numerous health benefits no wonder it is incredibly popular in cosmetics, culinary, and homeopathy applications. While many people attest to the wide-ranging benefits of coconut oil, some people are allergic to coconut.

Fortunately, you can access the health benefits of other oils that serve as alternatives to coconut oil.

Read on to learn more about coconut oil allergies and what to use if you are allergic to coconut oil.

What Is Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is derived naturally from coconut fruit, which grows on coconut palm tree. The coconut itself is actually the seed of the palm tree,

Contrary to popular belief, coconut is a fruit and not a nut. It is possible to be allergic to tree nuts and still safely use coconut and related products such as coconut butter, coconut flakes, and coconut oil as well.

Coconut Oil Allergy Symptoms

Coconut oil allergy is very rare but when an allergic reaction occurs, several symptoms are noticeable. These include:

  • Contact dermatitis
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory problems e.g. a runny nose, coughing and sneezing
  • Swollen face, tongue, and lips
  • Anaphylaxis

Please note that anaphylaxis, as a symptom of coconut allergy, is extremely rare. If this symptom presents itself in a loved one, seek medical attention immediately.

Skin reaction is the most common sign of coconut allergy. Coconut contains compounds such as cocamide, cocamide sulfate,and diethanolamine, which are known to trigger contact dermatitis in some people.

Contact dermatitis may manifest as an itchy and sometimes weepy blister that occurs immediately or after several days of coming into contact with a coconut-laced product, including coconut oil.

If you notice contact dermatitis after getting into contact with coconut oil, you should consult a doctor, preferably an allergist for a definite diagnosis.

Managing Coconut Oil Allergy

Coconut oil allergy does not have a cure. The only way to manage coconut oil is to eliminate this ingredient from your diet and personal care or beauty routine and replace coconut oil with an alternative oil.

If you are allergic to coconut oil, you are also probably intolerant of other coconut products. Be sure to check food labels to determine if a product contains coconut.

In the US, products containing coconut will usually have a label reading ‘contains tree nuts.’ Even though coconut is, in fact, a fruit, the FDA categorizes it as a tree nut.

You must be vigilant about food or food products such as cakes, desserts, candy, rum, and chocolate.

Personal care and cosmetic products may also contain coconut oil so you want to look out for these as well.


Although rare, cross-reactivity is a risk if you have been diagnosed with coconut oil allergy.

Cross-reactivity means reacting to products that are biologically related to coconut.

If you are allergic to coconut, you should probably avoid tree nuts and related products to prevent the chance of what could turn out to be a severe allergic reaction.

Best Coconut Oil Alternatives

The small percentage of the population that is allergic to coconut oil usually wonders what to use if you are allergic to coconut oil.

The good news is that you can substitute coconut oil with other equally healthy and effective natural oils.

After some research, we have narrowed down three of the best coconut oil alternatives.

Olive Oil

Used as a moisturizer, olive oil works perfectly to soothe and protect the skin.

Olive oil contains squalene, vitamins E and K, fatty acids, and polyphenol, which help to fight off the effects of aging and to hydrate the hair, skin, lips, and cuticles.

For culinary uses, olive oil is an excellent choice. It contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, which is very healthy.

Olive oil can reduce inflammation, alleviate the effects of chronic diseases such as diabetes, reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease, and may help to regulate weight.

Grape Seed Oil

Grape seed oil is derived from the seeds of grapes. Grape seeds are packed with natural compounds such as oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes and antioxidants.

Grape seed oil also contains procyanidin dimmers, which inhibit the production of aromatase and in turn minimize the risk of cancer.

Like coconut oil, grape seed is useful for culinary needs and cosmetic applications. If using for culinary purposes, be sure to use food grade grapeseed oil.

Grape seed oil has a high smoking point and is ideal for frying foods and can also be used as a salad dressing or in sauces.

Grape seed oil is found in numerous cosmetic products including moisturizers, shampoos, soaps, sunscreens among others. Grape seed oil has antiseptic and astringent properties and works effectively to soothe and repair the skin.

The health benefits of grape seed oil include strengthening the immune system, preventing high blood pressure, mitigating the risk of cancer, and speeding wound healing.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil is a natural oil extracted from sunflowers.

Sunflower oil is a popular alternative to many unhealthy cooking oils but it can also be a great substitute for coconut oil.

This oil contains a high amount of fatty acids including linoleic acid, carotenoids, oleic acid, lecithin, palmitic acid, and stearic acids. These fatty acids play an important role in ensuring overall wellbeing.

Sunflower oil also contains antioxidants such as Vitamin E, which can mitigate the effects of many health conditions.

An interesting fact about sunflower oil is that it contains more polyunsaturated fats than any other vegetable cooking oil.

Lastly, sunflower oil is packed with omega-6 fatty acids, copper, calcium, zinc, proteins, and iron.

Use of sunflower oil can help lower bad cholesterol levels, improve heart health, regulate weight gain, improve skin health by fighting against free radicals, fight against cancer, and reduce inflammation.


While coconut has amazing benefits both in culinary and cosmetic applications, an allergic reaction to this oil can set you back.

The most effective way to manage coconut oil allergy is to eliminate this product from your daily use.

Olive oil, grape seed oil, and sunflower oil are excellent coconut oil alternatives. But do not limit yourself to just these three. Try out others such as avocado oil, sesame oil, walnut oil etc.