The Weird Reason That Mango Makes Your Mouth Itch

There's a strange reason why mango makes some people's mouths feel itchy. But once you learn why, mango mouth will make total sense.

Mango is the world’s most popular fruit, and it’s easy to see why: It’s deliciously sweet, it has an irresistible buttery texture and it adds a fun tropical flair to so many dishes. Plus, it has all kinds of health benefits. But for some people it can cause a strange, tingly, itchy sensation in the mouth when consumed raw. “Mango mouth,” as it’s been called, occurs in people who have a mango allergy, most commonly linked to the chemical urushiol. Urushiol is found in high concentrations in the mango peel and the fruit directly underneath the peel.

Other plants that contain high concentrations of urushiol? Poison oak, poison sumac and poison ivy. No wonder it can make you feel itchy!

In fact, the plants listed above belong to the same tree family as mangoes (cashews, too!): Anacardiaceae. If you’ve had reactions to any of these plants in the past, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some form of mango mouth.

What Are the Symptoms of Mango Mouth?

Symptoms vary in everyone. Some people have a tingling sensation or slight numbness in the mouth and lips, and others develop a rash on skin that’s come in contact with the peel. If you notice either of these symptoms immediately after eating a mango, it’s best to avoid eating the fruit in its raw form in the future. Or, if you have a low sensitivity and just need that mango fix, wear thick gloves when peeling it or ask someone else to peel it for you, so your skin doesn’t touch the peel. You don’t want to miss out on these mango desserts!

Can I Still Eat Mangoes?

Kind of a bummer, we know—especially because there are so many delicious recipes where mangoes are the star. But if your symptoms are slight and you avoid coming in contact with the peel and the flesh directly under the peel, there’s a good chance you can still enjoy dishes like these vibrant mango smoothies, this pork and mango stir-fry and a chunky mango guacamole. And if not? Try to get that tropical fix from our favorite pineapple recipes.

Try These Recipes for Tropical Flavor With (or Without!) Mango
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Rachel Seis
As deputy editor for Taste of Home magazine, Rachel has her hand in everything you see from cover to cover, from writing and editing articles to taste-testing recipes to ensuring every issue is packed with fun and fabulous content. She'll roll up her sleeves to try any new recipe in the kitchen—from spicy Thai dishes (her favorite!) to classic Southern comfort food (OK...also her favorite). When she's not busy thinking of her next meal, Rachel can be found practicing yoga, going for a run, exploring National Parks and traveling to new-to-her cities across the country.