Do you have unexplained skin irritation? Fruit allergies are more common than you think. If you're ready to tear your skin off because of the itching and burning, I can relate, because I've experienced the same thing. Here's my story, along with some strategies for coping as naturally as possible.
The rash spread from the tip of my nose to the bottom of my chin, a cluster of a million clear tiny bumps that were barely visible individually – and that felt like they were on fire. My face glowed red from the blisters, and I could feel threads of the irritant creeping up my nose and into my eye sockets. To make matters worse, I was headed out to spend a long three-day weekend in the blazing sun of the California desert at Coachella Music Festival. Now I had gigantic rash across my face like some sort of seasonal fungus; it felt hotter than the surface of the sun itself and looked liked a melting Halloween mask. My only option was to distract onlookers with cleavage and a spray-tan, which actually worked exceedingly well.
Upon returning home and finally connecting with my dermatologist, I was shocked to discover that the humble mango was the cause of my distress. Mango rinds contain toxic oil very similar to that in poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. Humans can develop an allergy to the fruit if they eat or handle it a lot. I had eaten the flesh from a mango out of its rind the previous week, and the symptoms had set in within 48 hours. Apparently, mango rashes are a big problem in Hawaii and other places where the fruit grows naturally.
Humans can develop allergies to other fruits as well, and the results are usually the same: a super itchy, annoying rash that is red with tiny blisters. Fruit allergies are oral allergies and generally just affect the mouth, lips and nearby regions. The throat may swell slightly and feel tight, but fruit allergies are generally not as severe as those to peanuts or honeybees and do not cause anaphylactic shock – just supreme annoyance.
In addition to mangos, possible culprits for fruit allergies include bananas, citrus fruit, strawberries, cherries and stone fruit such as peaches, plums and pears. Vegetables may also get lumped in, and carrots and celery cause a reaction in some people.
If you have a fruit allergy and encounter your nemesis, you will want to rip your lips off your face and dive into a bucket of ice. Cope with your fruit allergies using the following strategies:
1. Stop eating fruit! Stop eating all fruit in any shape or form. No strawberry jam, banana pancakes, peach yogurt or pineapple marinades. You have to give up everything for two weeks, and then slowly introduce fruits one by one and watch for symptoms. Giving up fruit is actually much harder than it seems, because it pops up in everything from sauces to salads.
2. Consult your doctor or dermatologist. Your reaction to fruit might be the symptom of an underlying problem, and you should talk to your doctor before embarking on any dietary plan.
3. Cool off. If you’re already in the throes of an allergic reaction and can’t see your doctor for topical steroid treatment, get to a cool environment – blast the AC or lay in the shade to find relief. Use a wet towel around your neck to cool down even further.
4. Drink up! Water will help flush the toxins out of your body, so drink as much as you can while your rash is blazing.
5. Wash your face. Use a gentle soap and cool water to gently wash your face. Don’t scrub with a washcloth, but instead just use your fingertips to clean softly.
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