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

Signs and Symptoms of a Mango Allergy

There are two types of allergic reactions to mangoes:

  • Developing a rash around the mouth
  • Experiencing a severe, life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis after eating mango. However, this type of reaction is extremely rare. Only about a dozen or so case reports have been published.

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 have a tendency to develop contact dermatitis after eating mangoes don’t experience any symptoms if the fruit is cut away from the skin for them before being served.

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.

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

Symptoms of food allergy in babies and adults are similar. Allergic reactions can progress from uncomfortable to life-threatening rapidly. And for some people, just trace amounts of an allergen can trigger a reaction.

That said, food allergy is more common in babies than it is in adults. It is also more likely to become severe. One reason for this is that babies have more sensitive skin than adults, so they are more likely to develop contact dermatitis after touching something they are sensitive to.

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

Urushiol is an oil that can be found in the sap, skin, stems, and leaves of mangoes. In those allergic, it can cause a reaction upon contact.

A mango-induced rash more commonly occurs after coming in contact with the plant rather than eating the fruit simply because of where the oil is located.

Cross-Reactions

The mango tree is part of the Anacardiaceae plant family. Poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac are as well, and all contain urushiol.

If you are allergic to plants in this group, you may also have a reaction to mangoes—and vice versa. This is called a cross-reactive allergy. It mean the body cannot tell the difference between the allergen in one plant versus the allergen in another.

This typically results in a skin rash. It can also cause oral allergy syndrome (OAS), which results in sudden swelling and itching of the mouth, lips, and throat.

It's worth noting that cashew shells and the outer covering of pistachios also contain urushiol, so they can also cause a similar reaction as mangos.

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

Parents are encouraged to introduce new foods to a baby one at a time so that they can monitor for signs of an allergy. Doing this eliminates the possibility that a reaction could be due to something else.

And you may be able to tell if you have a mango allergy if your reaction happens immediately after contact with it.

However, whether or not you or your child has this particular allergy may not always 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 and you are monitored for signs of a reaction
  • A patch test, where potential allergens are applied to the skin on a patch and you are observed
  • A blood test known as an ImmunoCAP test, which detects specific antibodies to certain foods

Treatment

Avoiding contact with mango peels is usually an effective way to prevent a rash. If you do get one, 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 an 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. You may still be able to eat mango, as long as the peel is removed for you.

If you are unsure if you have a mango allergy, you may consider getting diagnosed by a 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, however, this is only for mango-induced dermatitis. If you experience a severe reaction, you may need to use an epinephrine auto-injector and then seek immediate medical treatment.

A Word From Verywell

If you develop uncomfortable symptoms after eating mango, be sure to check in with your healthcare provider before eating any more of it. Keep in mind that some people with mango allergy can have a cross-reactive allergy to cashews and pistachios. So it's a good idea to ask your doctor if either of those are safe for you to eat as well.

Food Allergies Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor appointment to help you ask the right questions.

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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 6 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 teenagers.

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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