Is It a Mango Allergy?

Apr 9, 2011

Did you know that the tropical fruit, mango, is in the same family as cashews and poison ivy? About a week or two ago, my mom called to tell me that she had read something about people who are allergic to poison ivy having a similar reaction to the skin of mangoes. She thought I'd like to know because our second son, NG, is very allergic to poison ivy. We found out a few years ago, when he was playing around with his older brother and M1 grabbed a handful of red leaves and stuffed them down NG's shirt. Did you know that poison ivy leaves turn red in early autumn? Well, I didn't and, apparently, neither did M1. NG broke out in a horrible rash over his whole upper body, neck, and face. His ears swelled. His eyes swelled. He was miserable. It wasn't a case of poison ivy you could treat at home, it called for a trip to the doctor.

Just this week, I bought some mangoes because they were on sale for 2/$1. NG had been checking them each day to see if they were ripe yet. Two days ago, he found that they were ready. He scored the skin, peeled off four sections of the skin, and nibbled the little chunks that were still attached to the skin. The next day, NG had a dry, patchy rash starting around his mouth. I assumed it was from dairy because he had been drinking milk consistently for the past week. But then, today I remembered what my mom had told me and did a little research online. After reading THIS, I am certain that the mango is what has caused NG's rash. Once we thought about it, we remembered that sometime in the past year, NG had a rash just like it while he was staying at my mom's. It started around his mouth and then made two paths on each side of his nose straight up to his eyes. But we cannot remember if he had eaten any mangoes during that time. We just assumed that it was allergic eczema then also. NG was not pleased to learn that his favorite fruit was causing his skin rash. What I've read indicates that it is the skin, not the flesh, that contains the irritating oil, urushiol, so NG should be able to continue eating mangoes. Needless to say, NG will no longer be peeling them. 


  1. THANK YOU for sharing this! VERY interesting! My youngest is having either an allergy rash or a virus......not sure which. But a couple days ago I gave him trail mix that had mango And the rash is all over his body, but worst around his mouth. It sounds awfully similar to what your little guy went through. Can't get to the doc till monday though, to find out for sure.

  2. WOW. Very interesting. My Mom and my brother both have severe poison Ivy allergies.

  3. Just found you through another blog, and I knew I had to say hello as soon as I saw your name. om to three little knights here.

  4. My boys love mangos but we cheat and buy them in a jar in the fresh fruit section!

    I had an awful reaction to P.I. a few years ago. The dr gave me some awesome topical stuff. (Thank you God for people who make awesome stuff like that). I swear, one of my sons only has to see it to break out.

    What intriguing information!

  5. I had no idea!

    I'm still surfing blogs from the #UBP11 - Can you believe it? I know!

    I'm hoping to meet some great new blogger buddies and check out some amazing blogs that will motivate and and inspire. I hope you'll swing by my blog too and subscribe if you like what you see/read.

    Ciao for now!

  6. THANK YOU for this post. I developed an allergy to mango's after I had my second baby. I love mango's and it has made me so sad to give them up, but the horrible, painful cold sores I was getting on the skin around my mouth was incentive enough to stop.

    I think I have the same thing. It was freeing to be able to try mango again this last week (frozen mango slices in a smoothie) and not have an allergic reaction!!!

  7. As someone who has a severe (life-threatening) mango allergy, let me explain: there are 2 types of mango allergies, and it is important to understand which you have. The first is an allergy to the fruit and acts like any other food allergy -- the reaction occurs upon ingestion only, resulting in typical food allergy symptoms from runny nose to hives to difficulty breathing to death. If you have this allergy you do not eat mangoes -- the allergy can escalate (trust me, an epi shot is not fun. Most mango allergies, however, are really urushiol allergies -- urushiol being the allergen in poison sumac, poison ivy, etc. Hence the same symptoms: rash, bumps, hives, etc. This is a reaction to the skin, not the fruit, so technically you can still eat it -- you just can not touch the skin. The problem, of course, is that the oil in the skin can get in the fruit from sloppy preparation. You often hear of babies with rashes on their faces and rears from eating mango baby food -- I suspect that commercial processing just tosses whole mangoes in then strains out the fruit puree...So stick to carefully prepared mango where the skin is immediately removed from the fruit, the knife is repeatedly washed, and the afflicted always wears gloves when handling in any way.

  8. Michele, Thank you for your clarification! Noah's allergy is definitely to urushiol.

  9. Just so you know, mango allergies tend to get worse each time there is an exposure. I am very allergic to poison ive, and am also allergic to mango. the first couple times i would only break out in a rash if i touched the inside of the peel. Every time i had mango it got worse and worse. Now i require an imediate trip to the ER if i am anywhere near it. Also mango is related to latex, many people who have mango allergies have latex allergies. So be careful of that.


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