What Are the Symptoms of a Mango Allergy?

Why Your Mango Allergy Might Be an Allergic Reaction to Urushiol

Allergic reactions can occur with any food, but mangoes are unique in that they belong to the plant family that also contains poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. Poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac all contain urushiol, an oil found the Anacardiaceae plant family which can cause allergic reactions upon contact. Urushiol can also be found in mangoes, pistachios and cashew shells. Contact with the skin from mangoes (if you ate a mango like you would an apple), can result in contact dermatitis around the mouth.

These symptoms may include redness, itching, and flaking on the areas of skin that the mango touched. Blisters and irritation resembling a poison oak reaction can also form. 

Many people who notice this type of skin rash say that they don’t have any symptoms if they cut up the mango and eat it without the fruit touching their skin, especially if they don’t eat the peel of the fruit. In these cases, a person is probably not truly allergic to mango, since a reaction should still occur if they have allergic antibodies to mangoes.

Treating Urushiol-Based Allergic Reactions

Contact dermatitis around the skin around the mouth caused by a reaction to urushiol may respond well to low-dose topical steroids or Elidel and Protopic, two types of topical immunosuppressants used to treat skin rashes and eczema. It is unlikely that the reaction will get better with antihistamines, although over the counter topical medications may help relieve symptoms.

Severe reactions, which are more common with other forms or urushiol-containing plants as opposed to mangoes, may require emergency medical attention.  

Only an allergist can determine if you are truly allergic to a food or not. If you have any unusual symptoms with eating any food, check with your doctor before eating any more of the suspect food.

Source:

Beltrani VS, Bernstein IL, Cohen DE, Fonacier L. Contact Dermatitis: A Practice Parameter. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006;97:S1-38.

American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Delayed Allergic Reaction After Eating Mangoes. 2014. 

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