cutting up a mango

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 to not have a bad mango reaction!

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  1. SW

    When I was in elementary school I played all afternoon in a mango tree (lived in Florida) and got the sap all over me and had the exact same reaction as the woman who wrote in. My eyes were swollen shut and my whole body was swollen with a terrible rash. I was in bed about two weeks with this condition. I was afraid to eat mango my whole life until a year or so ago (I’m 69). I ate the flesh, as it was already peeled and cut up at a restaurant. No reaction at all and it was so delicious! I have no allergy to latex gloves. I am a retired nurse and used them for years with no problem. It was just the mango sap that got to me.

  2. cpmt

    PAPAYA AND FIGS (sap) too have this type of allergy. and Pat, your are very lucky to have your own natural mangos.

  3. Mary

    I like mangoes but my body does not.
    I have carefully put mango into my mouth avoiding the lips as much as possible. I still break out. So I avoid them.
    I don’t remember if I had contact with the mango skin at the time, though. It was my mouth that had problems rather than hands, etc.

  4. Barbara

    Won’t papayas also cause sickness in people allergic to latex? Papayas are related to latex too I think.

  5. MKM

    I had something similar with raspberries. My grandparents had a farm near Duluth, which we visited when I was 11. My cousins and I went out into the woods, where wild raspberries grew. I ended up with a terrible, VERY itcy rash all over, for a long time. I even took a hairbrush to scratch with, the itch was so bad.
    Years, later, I grew raspberries in my yard, since I can eat the fruit with no problem, I thought they were safe. It turns out, it’s the hairy or thorny-like growths on the stems that cause the problem. As long as I wore long pants and sleeves, plus gloves, I could pick berries with no problem, and clean out dead stems annually.

  6. Pam

    Interesting connection with mango and poison ivy! I lived in S. Fl many years ago and we had a mango tree in the back yard. I could never understand why anyone thought mango tasted good…to me it tasted like lighter fluid and made my lips burn. I finally realized I was allergic. I am very allergic to poison ivy as well, but never would have put that together.

  7. CK

    Yes, I have gotten swollen lip from them. My doctor said when he was in the army they used some by product from them for starch, and guys got rashes on their neck.

  8. Pat

    I believe it’s not the mango, it’s the mango sap. I live in Florida and I have a mango tree. The first year it yielded fruit I was so proud, I picked up a bunch and carried them into my house. A few days later a bad rash developed, which moved all over my body. Now I know better. I pick up the mangos very carefully, put them in a basket, and immediately wash them and wash my hands. I do have the best mangos!

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