Overview of a Mango Allergy

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Mangoes can cause an allergic reaction in some people, although it is very uncommon. Skin rashes may develop in response to touching a mango peel, but more severe reactions are also possible. If you have a mango allergy, you may be able to eat mangoes if you don't come into contact with the peel. However, some people may need to avoid mangoes altogether if their allergy is more severe.

This article explains the causes and symptoms of mango allergies, in both adults and babies. It also explores how mango allergies are diagnosed, as well as the treatment options available.

Types of Allergic Reactions to Mango
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin

Symptoms

There are two types of allergic reactions to mangoes:

  • Developing a rash around the mouth
  • Experiencing a severe, life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis

An allergic reaction to mango may occur immediately after contact with the mango or days later, depending on the individual.

Rash

Contact dermatitis, an itchy rash with blisters or bumps, is the most common allergic response to mangoes. The rash is usually near the lips and the skin around the mouth, but it can affect any area of the body.

It can take up to seven days after you come in contact with the mango for the rash to appear. Symptoms of contact dermatitis caused by a mango include:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Blisters

Keep in mind that it is the peel of the mango that typically triggers the rash. Many people who develop contact dermatitis after eating mangoes don’t experience any symptoms if they cut up the mango and eat it without the peel touching their skin.

Recap

The most common type of allergic reaction to mango is a rash called contact dermatitis. It usually appears around the mouth, but can appear elsewhere on the body. Symptoms of this rash include itching, swelling, and blisters.

Anaphylaxis

Sometimes a mango allergy can cause a severe allergic reaction that is characterized by swelling, changes in blood pressure, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

Some people may develop an allergic reaction to the mango pulp, although this is far less common than an allergy to the mango peel.

When to Call 911

Call 911 or seek emergency care if you experience the following after eating a mango: vomiting, shortness of breath, wheezing, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, or swelling of the tongue, throat, or face.

Mango Allergy In Babies

Toddler with food allergy rash around mouth

Basak Gurbuz Derman / Getty Images

Food allergy is more common in babies than it is in adults. It is also more likely to be severe. Although the symptoms of food allergy in babies and adults are similar, an allergic reaction in a baby can progress from uncomfortable to life-threatening rapidly.

For babies with a severe food allergy, being exposed to just trace amounts of that food can trigger a reaction. Babies also have more sensitive skin than adults, so they are more likely to develop contact dermatitis after touching something they are sensitive to.

If you are just starting to introduce solid foods to your baby's diet, introduce them to one food at a time. For example, let your baby try small amounts of mango for three days without giving them anything else new. This way, you will know that if they develop allergy symptoms, the mango is likely to blame.

Remember, a mild allergic reaction in a baby can quickly progress to a life-threatening reaction. Therefore, any signs of an allergic reaction in a baby should be treated seriously. If you suspect that your baby is having an allergic reaction:

  • Stop feeding them immediately
  • Call 911 or go to the hospital right away

An estimated 8% of schoolchildren in the United States have some type of food allergy. The most serious allergic reactions are caused by milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts. Fruit allergies are extremely rare in childhood.

Causes

Poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac all contain an oil called urushiol. This is the oil that causes a rash when people touch these plants.

Urushiol can also be found in the sap, skin, stems, and leaves of mangoes. This oil can cause an allergic reaction upon contact.

Because of this oil, a mango-induced rash more commonly occurs after coming into contact with the plant instead of after eating a mango.

Recap

Most allergic reactions to mangoes come from touching the peel. People with a severe mango allergy can go into anaphylaxis shortly after touching or eating mango. This is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you suspect anaphylaxis in yourself or your child, call 911 or go right to the hospital.

Diagnosis

You may be able to tell if you have a mango allergy if your reaction happens immediately after contact with it. However, knowing if you have this particular allergy may not be super obvious.

If you get a rash, you should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible. Tests used to identify the cause of a skin allergy may include:

  • A skin prick test, where a small amount of an allergen is pricked into the skin with a needle
  • A patch test, where potential allergens are applied to the skin on a patch
  • A blood test known as an ImmunoCAP test, which may be used if you have another skin condition

Treatment

Avoiding contact with the mango peel is usually an effective way to prevent a rash. However, if you do get a rash, it is likely that it will go away on its own within a few days. For more severe rashes, treatment options may include:

If you're at risk of an anaphylactic reaction, your healthcare provider will give you an epinephrine auto-injector, which is a shot containing epinephrine. When epinephrine is injected, it stops the allergic reaction. However, you will still need to contact emergency services immediately for additional care.

Summary

Mango allergies can trigger a rash or a more severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. Most people tend to be allergic to the urushiol oil in the peel of the mango.

Because of this, it's best to avoid the mango peel and the mango plant if you suspect you have this allergy. However, you may still be able to eat mango, as long as the peel is removed.

If you are unsure if you have a mango allergy, you may consider getting diagnosed by your healthcare provider. They may perform a skin test or blood test to determine if you have this particular allergy.

Treatment for mango allergies may include a topical cream or an oral steroid. If you experience a severe reaction, you may need to use an epinephrine auto-injector and then seek immediate medical treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are mango allergies common?

    No, mango allergies are rare but they can still occur. If you are allergic to latex, birch or mugwort pollen, you may be sensitive to mangoes as well.

  • When can you start giving mangoes to babies?

    You can start to gradually introduce your baby to solid foods like mangoes when they are around six months old.

  • How long does it take for a mango allergy to go away?

    The majority of babies outgrow their food allergy by the time they are a teenager.

A Word From Verywell

If you have a mango allergy, you should avoid contact with mangoes, poison ivy, poison oak, and other members of the Anacardiaceae plant family. It's worth noting that cashew shells and the outer covering of pistachios also contain urushiol and can cause a similar reaction.

If you develop uncomfortable symptoms after eating mango, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider before eating any more of it.

Food Allergies Doctor Discussion Guide

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