Mango fruits are ubiquitous at supermarkets around the nation and enjoyed by many.
Mango fruits are ubiquitous at supermarkets around the nation and enjoyed by many. What may come as a surprise to many is that the rind of fresh mangos contains allergens similar to those found in poison ivy or poison oak.1 For some, consuming mango products can cause oral dermatitis and erythema. This is a rare, but characterized, reaction that impacts a small number of people. The severity of this reaction varies from person to person; however, it can be mild enough that individuals may choose to self-treat. Pharmacists should be aware of this rare allergy and some potential treatment approaches.
Allergies to mango can be dangerous, so it is best to recommend seeing a physician if it's the first time they are experiencing the reaction. Treating nonanaphylactic reactions (dermatitis, skin or mucosal irritation, erythema) is similar to treating urticaria (hives) or cutaneous puritic reactions. Topical or oral steroid treatment for 3-5 days have been reported to be used for mango-associated dermatitis. Over-the-counter first-generation antihistamines have also been reported as effective. Symptoms will generally resolve within a week with or without treatment. If they do not, further medical attention may be required.2
Avoiding eating or touching fresh mangos is the best way to prevent this reaction in those affected. Using gloves or protective equipment when handling is necessary would be advised. The sap, which contains a high concentration of the irritating compounds, found mostly in the skin of the fresh fruit, should be avoided. Canned, preserved, and processed mango products can still contain mango allergens but not necessarily the irritating sap.3 Those who suffer from mango-associated dematitis should exhibit cautions when handling any naturally-derived mango product.
Many pharmacists practice in an environment where people are exposed to mango fruits. Understanding the potential for this fruit to cause dermatitis can help a pharmacist better advise patients how to proceed if they develop adverse cutaneous reaction following mango exposure.
1. Hershko K, Weinberg I, Ingber A. Exploring the mango—poison ivy connection: the riddle of discriminative plant dermatitis. Contact Dermatitis. 2005;52(1):3-5.
2. Weinstein S, Bassiri?Tehrani S, Cohen DE. Allergic contact dermatitis to mango flesh. Int J Dermatol. 2004;43(3):195-196.
3. Dube M, Zunker K, Neidhart S, Carle R, Steinhart H, Paschke A. Effect of technological processing on the allergenicity of mangoes (Mangifera indica L.). J Agric Food Chem. 2004;52(12):3938-3945.