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Eating the skin of a mango depends on a few different factors. Here's a look at the good chemicals in mango, as well as one that can cause a nasty reaction.
Mango Skin Nutrients and Toxins
Although the pit of a mango isn't considered edible, some people do eat the mango skin. The skin is bitter-tasting, but the peel contains several healthful chemical compounds, including powerful antioxidants mangiferin, norathyriol, and resveratrol.
However, mango skin also contains urushiol, the irritating compound found in poison ivy and poison oak. If you are sensitive to the compound, eating mango skin can cause a nasty reaction and may send you to the doctor. Contact dermatitis is more common from handling mango vines or peeling the fruit. Some people suffer reactions from eating mango, even if they are peeled. If you have a strong reaction to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac, you may wish to avoid the risk associated with eating mango skin. In addition to mango, pistachio nuts are another food that may cause contact dermatitis from urushiol.
Symptoms of the Reaction to Mango Skin
Contact dermatitis from urushiol, whether comes from mango skin or another source, is a Type IV hypersensitivity reaction. This type of reaction is delayed, meaning the symptoms don't show up immediately. For the first reaction, it may take 10 to 21 days for symptoms to appear, by which time it may be hard to identify the source of the reaction. Once an urushiol allergy develops, exposure leads to a rash within 48 to 72 hours of exposure. The rash is characterized by redness and swelling, sometimes with streaking, papules, blisters, or vesicles. It may appear on and around the mouth and extend to the throat and eyes.
In minor cases, the rash resolves on its own in a week or two. However, the rash may persist as long as five weeks. Scratching the rash can result in an infection, typically from Staphylococcus or Streptococcus. The infection may require antibiotics. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, a systemic allergic response may occur.
Soap and water can be used to remove traces of urushiol from skin, but most people don't know they have a problem until the rash appears. The allergic response may be treated with oral antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl), topical antihistamines, or the steroids prednisone or triamcinolone in extreme cases.
- Shenefelt, Philip D. (2011). "Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders". Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, Florida, USA: CRC Press.
- Stibich, A. S.; Yagan, M.; Sharma, V.; Herndon, B. & Montgomery, C. (2001). "Cost-effective post-exposure prevention of poison ivy dermatitis". International Journal of Dermatology. 39 (7): 515-518.