A Matter of Mangoes…..

My daughter called me from school the end of last week, complaining of a virulent itchy rash on her arm. Knowing that she is extremely allergic to poison ivy, (one time after a camping trip with her elementary grade class, her face was all puffed up and one eye was swollen shut…people stared in the most awful fashion as we filled her prescription)  it made sense to me that she had unknowingly brushed by some…somehow. She said that wasn’t possible, but finally went to a clinic there to have a doc look at it. They weren’t sure what it was either, but suggested antihistamines,  antibiotics, and some prednisone. Hmmmmm. A week goes by, and she isn’t significantly better…and those of you who have a girl at college will probably know this…when something isn’t going well, especially healthwise….THEY WILL CALL YOU. A LOT. Why haven’t you fixed this??

“Please, Mom, I want to come home and have an appointment with a real doctor.”

“You did see a real doctor”

“I mean a dermatologist. A specialist!”

Ahhhhh….now I get it. So I call the lovely Dr. Eva Simmons-O’Brien in Towson…we’ve done a couple of stories with her on WBAL and I liked her so much that when I have a skin issue( and who on tv doesn’t have skin issues), that’s who I see.  After all, she graduated from the Yale school of Medicine…not bad. She very kindly  agreed to squeeze my baby girl in for a consult, and her conclusions really surprised us both….

She took a look and asked if my itchy girl if she had eaten mango recently. Mango?  Why, yes indeed she had…a whole container of chopped mango from Wegman’s. Delicious!  “There’s your culprit“, said Dr. O’Brien. She explained that mango and poison ivy are actually cross allergens….and eating the mango had really activated the allergic system…so much so, that after writing a couple of prescriptions, she advised using fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products (detergent, shampoo, face wash, lotion, you name it) for a long, long time to come. And don’t even look at a mango. Don’t be in the same room with one. Seriously. No more mango salsa.

On the plus side, at least in my daughter’s view, was that she could go out and buy all new product lines. Wheeeeeeee! So she is loaded up with new prescription creams and pills…feeling much better already….and she has her own dermatologist now…that is big, for some reason. I, on the the other hand, am a couple of hundred bucks poorer. At least. But the dilemna did get her home for a couple of days. And that I always love.


17 Responses

  1. This a good entry in that anyone who is allergic to poison ivy should avoid mangoes. It’s strange that they are related, especially if you’ve seen one of those massive mango trees.

    Now, I’ve been wild about mangoes ever since my first trip to the Philippines to visit my wife’s family. Their mangoes are all yellow, sweet, and very juicy with smooth meat. I can’t even look at one of these Indian mangoes (red and green) because the meat is way too fibrous and almost tasteless compared to the Philippine (more specifically, Cebu) mangoes.

    If you want a good mango, try the champagne mangoes (smaller and yellow) that are just a bit soft. You’ll be rewarded with some heavenly delicious mango!

  2. Donna,

    You blog about your daughter, your son, your son’s girlfriend, your Mother in Alabama (I’m an Alabama girl myself), your sisters, your cats, your girl weekends, your favorite shops and restaurants, your everyday mundane tasks …… but you never mention your husband. Why?

  3. Hey Sara, ‘bama girl….the answer to that is simple. He doesn’t like it. So I give a man his privacy.

  4. Hello! I had heard about the poison ivy/oak and mango connection. My 6 yr old daughter is highly allergic to poison oak (We live in the foothills of Northern California). We just returned from a trip to Hawaii and sure enough, on the plane ride home, her eye and various other places all over her body started developing a “mysterious” rash. Her eye was almost swollen shut by the time we reached home! My questions is, I don’t believe she injested any mango, but she touched a mango tree and handled some mangos at the Outdoor Market. Is it the oil of the mango, just like the oil of the poison oak or ivy that causes the allergic reaction? Trying to solve the rash mystery- Thanks!
    Jennifer- August 10, 2008

  5. Jennifer, my daughter’s dermatologist said that yes, you don’t have to eat mango to have the reaction…touching it can cause it, and indeed, she said it can even be in the air if you are really alllergic, like someone who has a reaction to smelling peanuts or peanut butter. So mangoes are just a no fly zone for your daughter, like mine…who is doing much much better. Hope she is better soon!

  6. Donna,
    I can relate to your experience at the vet’s office. I found a wonderful doc who treats only cats. Her name is Dr. Marian Siegel and her practice is the Metropolitan Cat Hospital on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills. Check it out. I think you’ll be happy!

  7. My daughter 8 just got over a bad case of poison oak. It went away after 2-3 weeks(it was on her face hands chest neck)two weeks after it went away i fed her a mango (something she enjoyed weekly before the oak) and her face swelled up in hours. did the doctor put your little girl on meds. or did it just go away by itself? Can she ever eat mangos again?! seriously over poison oak.

  8. […] box of the White Tea with Island Mango(couldn’t have that when my daughter is around with her weird poison ivy/mango allergy)….the box says its made with real orange leaves and lemongrass…Sweet. Now, let’s […]

  9. I had went into anaphylatic shock when eating my first mango. Have not touched one since.

  10. […] that must be sweeping the nation….mango allergy….that I wrote about in a blog called A Matter of Mangoes, after my daughter came down it herself…..Who knew that if you’re allergic to poison […]

  11. Hi!

    I also have an allergy with mangoes just recently. I always have this allergy since birth. I just dont understand why there are some mangoes that does not cause any allergic reaction to me. I often eat ripe mangoes but, when I ate green mangoes, I started to have an itchy red spots all over my body. It will start on my palm, scalp, middle of my arm and 1 hour later, my whole body will have thesame effect. even my inner body will feel an itch. sometimes I collapsed and have hard breathing. and also cough and runny nose. Sometimes, It lasted for a week. but if I only took one mango, It will only last for one day. oh, 4 hour of itchyness until it reaches or covers the whole body. but if it already covered my whole body, it will just subside and eventually the itchy feeling will also subside. I am taking anti-histamine whenever I experience this.

    As of now, I am looking for a way how can I remove this? so that I can enjoy eating mangoes. by the way, it is not just mangoes, It also occure when I ate tamarind, Averrhoa Bilimbi(bilimbi), strawberries, lemon, calamansi… I think all of sour fruits. and even a teaspon venigar (because I tried it if I reacts to venigar if I swallowed).

    Hope someone can help me.

    See my pics when I get an allergy on this link..

  12. Thanks so much for the post on the mangos. My daughter ate a whole mango and within 30 minutes, she was itching on her palms, the bottom of her feet, her throat and another 30 minutes later her eyes were swollen, one almost completely shut. Gave her benedryl and the itch went away but her face is still swollen. She is 10 and leaving town tomorrow with her girl scout troop. Hopefully she does not react to shampoos and lotions etc.
    How crazy, my family loves mangos and she has had many in the past. she is so bummed becuase it is one of her favorites.
    Interesting about the poison ivy/oak…
    Thanks again.

  13. Hi,
    My son who is now 19, carries an epi pen for his mango allergy. We first noticed burn type marks and swelling of his lips and face, he use to play in a small mango tree when he was 3, whist I hung out washing. We eventually connected the two and took out the mango tree. My daughter had a mango in her hand when he was little and jokingly teased him, that he couldn’t eat it, and touched the side of his face with it, to let him smell how nice it was. He looked like he had a giant ringworm on his cheek, a trip to the doctors confirmed it was related to mango. We then banned mango completely from our house. During his life he has suffered from rhinitis swelling of the throat and lips,swelling of the face on his yr 10 excursion even after providing them with his allergy alert, they visited the markets and purchased cases of mangos & ate them around him, gave him mango & orange juice for breakfast, he always questions what is in his food and was told it was orange juice, he found it difficult to breath on the trip home but didn’t bother to tell anyone, I rang the motel and they confirmed they added minimal mango to the orange juice, but had no alert from the school.Before he left I offered to send his own food, the offer was declined. I normally send his own drinks, whenever he has gone any where as a safe guard. He was ill for awhile on return. Mango allergy doesn’t fall into the 8 most common allergies, so people doubt you. I had one doctor question how I knew it was an allergy and that she doubted if he required an epi pen for it (it was given by an immunologist) I offered her to take my son feed him mango, whilst he was in hospital and she could deal with the consequences as I would be extremely pleased not to have to worry when I went out what was in the food and to carry an epi pen around because they can’t judge how severe his reaction is. She declined this offer and wrote a script for another epi pen. I would love him not to worry about this and a doctor who was quite insulting and never met us before could be so rude to us. My husband and I are both registered nurses, my husband is a director of nursing, so we do have an idea of what we are talking about. So stand up for your child, my son is a lovely person who still does all things and enjoys life. We live in Australia and mangos are abundant.

  14. how to stop the itch as it comes with tiny red spots which itch at differnt places on the body -what to put on to stop the itch .I eat mangoes .

  15. After recurring irritating rashes around my eyes I have finally realized that it is probably caused by mango. I use pawpaw ointment, aloe vera (straight from the plant) and when it gets really painful and raw, cortisone cream is the best for relieving it, though you must be careful to not get any in your eyes. Since connecting mango with the problem it seems to be finally disappearing but I have been suffering on and off for some weeks while not being sure what was causing the problem. I was blaming a face moisturiser that I have been using for 40 years. I have eaten mangos for many years also but it looks like those days are now a thing of the past unfortunately, because it would be my most favourite food.

  16. After recurring irritating rashes around my eyes I have finally realized that it is probably caused by mango. I use pawpaw ointment, aloe vera (straight from the plant) and when it gets really painful and raw, cortisone cream is the best for relieving it, though you must be careful to not get any in your eyes.

  17. Has anyone who with a known allergy to mango had an allergic reaction to shampoo with mango as an ingredient? I get the typical mouth reaction when I eat mango – which I love so much. I rarely eat it because of the reaction which lasts for days but I sometimes can’t resist. I am also very allergic to poison oak/ivy and have needed shots when it has gone systemic.
    Recently I began using a shampoo called “Mango Moisturizing hair wash” which I love. I didn’t even think about the “mango” part. For the past month I have been experiencing an allergic reaction to something which I have been describing all along as my “mango reaction” with extreme itching, pain, burning, and swelling on my lips. It continued to travel down to my chin and then proceeded up my face and stopped at the level of my eyebrows, which of course included swelling of the eyes. I have made two trips to the doc and started on antihistamines. The whole rash began in the middle of a 10 day low grade fever so I just assumed it was connected to getting sick and having a weakened immune system. Yesterday it occurred to me that perhaps my reaction may be coming from the mango shampoo. I haven’t eaten any mango in a long time so I know that I have not ingested any. I went off the antihistamines (zyrtec – 1 every 24 hours) once to see if I still needed them. Within 20 hours I had gone back to swollen eyes and lips much faster than the original reaction.
    I am not sure if the shampoo is causing this allergic reaction but curious if anyone else has had a similar experience. I will stop using the shampoo and then try going off the antihistamines to see if the reaction has stopped.
    Thanks for any feedback.

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