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EXCLUSIVE! My Experience With Mango Allergy

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sliced mango on a blackboard with a glass of orange juice and mint leaves

Have you ever woken up from a sweet sleep to see your face swollen overnight?

In my case, I thought I was gaining weight, at the same time, I knew something was wrong. Why?

At first, I had itchy sensations behind my ear, around my lips and cheeks. Secondly, my eyes were puffy. At that moment, my instincts kicked in, “Oh my Gawd! I am reacting to something”.

My thoughts launched a series of flashback to find a clue to what was happening while I stood gazing at my reflection. The figurative light bulb over my head came on. A few years back and weeks ago, I experienced a reaction similar to what I was going through.

It was not makeup, neither was it a bite from an insect but the little mango I had hours before dinner. How was I so sure I was having a mango allergic reaction?  You will find out in a moment.

What is Mango Allergy?

An allergy refers to an exaggerated reaction of the immune system to common substances such as food, drugs or flowers.

People who have mango allergy show a form of reaction after coming in contact with the mango fruit.

Most reactions occur as a result of contact with the skin of the mango fruit, which means mango can still be eaten if the peel is removed completely from the fruit.

What is the cause of Mango Allergy?

Mango contains a substance called Urushiol found in large concentrations in the peel and the area of the fruit directly beneath the peel.

Contact with urushiol, which is also present in the branches, stems, sap and leaves of a mango tree, causes allergic skin reaction in most people.

What are the symptoms of Mango Allergy?

Mangoes can cause two types of reactions: a rash and an anaphylactic reaction.

The Rash:

The most common allergic reaction to mangoes is a rash called contact dermatitis. The rash usually affects the lips and skin around the mouth, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the fingers and hands.

Do you know the rash could appear up to seven days after eating/exposure to mango?

The more mango your skin is exposed to, the quicker and more severe the rash will appear.

Anaphylactic Reaction

A mango allergy can sometimes induce a severe allergic reaction, which includes rash, a sore throat, swelling, diarrhoea, vomiting, tummy aches, changes in blood pressure, difficulty breathing and fainting.

Some people may have an allergic reaction to mango pulp, although it is significantly less frequent than a mango peel allergy.

Why was I so sure I had a mango allergy?

From personal experience, I had the following symptoms; swollen face, puffy eyes, itchy lips, rash on my upper lip (made my lip super dark than usual) and a rash all over my face. Sounds similar to the rash reaction right?

When there is an obvious cause and effect, most people can identify if they have a food allergy. If you remember eating mangoes before getting a rash, the connection may seem obvious.

Not to toot my horn but my profession as a registered nurse comes with the superpower of being observant when it comes to my health.

You would recall I mentioned earlier that I had 2 previous experiences similar to what I was going through. These experiences had mango in common which I didn’t connect until my third experience.

How is Mango Allergy Treated?

The best approach to avoid an allergic reaction is to avoid coming into touch with mango skin. The skin rash usually goes away on its own after a few days.

Anti-itch creams sold over the counter may provide some relief from the itching, but they seldom remove the rash.

In the early stages of a severe rash involving a small region of your skin, a prescription topical corticosteroid, such as hydrocortisone cream, may be helpful.

Self medication should not be encouraged as you may need to run diagnostic tests especially if the symptoms are worsening or there is a preexisting condition.

Low-dose topical steroids may help with contact dermatitis around the mouth caused by a reaction to urushiol. If the rash doesn’t go away, your doctor may prescribe prednisone (a steroid taken by mouth)

A skin prick or patch test, which can confirm the allergen, is one of the tests performed to determine the cause of a skin allergy.

Takeaway

What I find interesting about my newfound allergy is that I ate mango growing up. It was quite a surprise but I’m glad it didn’t become a life-threatening situation.

Does this mean people can have an allergy to food or something that they never reacted to from childhood? Find out more here.


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Mercy Otaru Akinbinu is the founder of LovoHealth, a speaker, health writer and registered nurse. She is known for her love of animes and chocolate cookies and is also passionate about breaking chunks of health information into bits very easy to relate with.