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My Girlfriend Has a Peanut Allergy. Do We Have to Worry About Kissing?

My girlfriend has a peanut allergy. I've heard stories about how people can die after being kissed by someone who just ate nuts. Do I have to worry about kissing her?
Kevin*

The stories you've heard do happen, but are very rare. If you take some simple precautions, you and your girlfriend can kiss with no problems.

A food that can cause a reaction in a person is called an allergen. Food allergens are found in a person's saliva (spit) right after eating. But the amount of allergens in the mouth goes down over time, and after a few hours they are all but gone. Experts advise brushing your teeth and waiting at least 4 hours before kissing someone if you think you ate a food that person may be allergic to.

If it's noon and you won't see your girlfriend until later that evening, it's OK to have a PB&J for lunch. Just be sure to brush your teeth using toothpaste before you see her (just as anyone wanting kiss-worthy breath would do).

If you and your girlfriend are going out for a meal together, choose what you eat carefully. Ask her for advice on what you can order that doesn't have peanut ingredients — or order the same thing she does — and you can kiss her goodnight with no problem.

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: January 2021