Q. Many years ago, while my dad was stationed in Hawaii, I climbed the mango trees to pick mangoes for chutney. I got such a terrible reaction: my eyes were swollen shut, my hands were so swollen I couldn’t close them and I missed school for two weeks.
I was amazed that the Army doctors did not know what was wrong but somebody else told us about a connection between mango skin and poison ivy.
A few years ago, my sister told me she bought delicious mangoes in Mexico and just bit into them. Her doctors had no idea why she developed a horrible rash.
I put plastic baggies over my hands, wash mangoes well and peel them before I eat them. That lets me enjoy the fruit without a rash.
A. You are smart to use plastic baggies rather than latex gloves to handle mangoes. Some people who react to mango skin also react badly to latex as well as to poison ivy, oak and sumac.
Be sure to tell your dentist and doctor about this sensitivity. If you ever need surgery, the team should use non-latex gloves.
You are fortunate that you can eat mangoes without reacting. Some people are so sensitive that eating a mango will bring on a severe allergic reaction. Clearly, in such a case complete avoidance is the best approach!