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Mango Itch

21 June 2012

We checked into our amazing hotel in Hanoi, Vietnam {thanks, Amanda, for the awesome recommendation} and one of the great perks is that they put a big bowl of fruit in the room everyday.

I'm a fruit lover.
My husband hates fruit.
It's summer in Vietnam, so it's  fruit lover's paradise.

Immediately, I had my eye on the big, juicy mango in the bowl.
I paused for a moment to plan my attack.
They gave a knife with the bowl....but no plates or silverware.
So I did as any logical, fruit-obsessed person would do,
and I proceeded to devour the mango, island-style.

If you're not familiar with island-style,
it looks a little something like this.

Then you just put your face up to it, and lap up every last, juicy morsel.
The next day, we were out exploring the city all day, and when we came back to the hotel,
I was dismayed to find that the hotel staff had not replaced the mango in my fruit bowl.  
I grumbled about it to my husband, but decided to let it pass.

That night, my lips were feeling really sunburnt.
Granted, we were out in the ridiculously hot weather all day, and the rest of my body was feeling slightly burnt as well.  But no matter how much chapstick I applied, my lips wouldn't stop feeling burnt and achey.  

The next morning I woke up, and my mouth opened like the tin man who hasn't gotten any grease.
I went straight to the mirror and noticed a lot of crusting on the left corner of my mouth.
To my horror, I saw some puss and little blister-like sores had developed.
Worried that it was herpes, or some weird infection, I told my husband so we could make sure there wasn't any transference.  

All day long I was acutely aware of the sores on my lips.
They hurt, and they felt like they were getting worse.
I could barely open my mouth to insert food.

Immediately upon opening my eyes the next morning, I ran to the mirror to assess my condition.
When I saw yellow, hardened pus, and spreading sores, I wanted to hide my face and cry.
Suddenly, I remembered something my sister told me several months ago.
She had an allergic reaction to eating a mango,
and after talking to her doctor, found out it's a legit condition called mango itch.

As it turns out, the mango is a close relative poison ivy and poison oak.
In fact, the skin of the mango contains the exact same oil, urushiol oil, as the oil found in poison ivy.
So while it's perfectly safe to eat the fruit {which I've been eating for many years}
eating the mango "island style" can cause your face to come into contact with the urushiol oil.

So, to boil it down for you,
I basically rubbed poison ivy all over my lips.  
If you've never had poison ivy, A) I envy you, and B) words cannot express the hell that is the bullet you've dodged.

The only silver lining is that it was difficult for strangers to notice, because of the placement on my lips.
The picture below is the only one I have where you can slightly detect a problem.  You can see that my bottom lip is a bit swollen, and my smile is slightly lopsided {due to the horrible pain on the left side of my mouth!}
If you want to be gross and take a super close look, you can see some crusties on the left side of my mouth {the right side of the picture.}

The condition continued to get worse for two days after this photo was taken,
but now is close to clearing up.  Thank the lords.  

So the moral of the story is that I should thank the hotel for not replacing my mango,
and shall henceforth never be a ravenous, crazy person who eats mangos island-style.
And I'll feel much more compassion for people I see with cold sores on their face.
The end.


  1. Aw that sucks! At least it was only a skin reaction and nothing worse. :S Hope you're feeling better!

  2. You poor thing. I'm glad it wasn't something more serious or effected another part of your system. I'm also glad that while I am a huge fruit lover, I don't care for mango

  3. What? I have never heard of this before. I always eat mangos like that.....YIKES!

    Well better to have mango itch than herpes. Mouth herpes are no ones friend.

  4. OH NO!!! I had no idea mangoes were so closely associated with poison ivy. I'm glad you are okay and that it's getting better. Did you still eat the fruit or were you scared to eat it after that?!

  5. That is crazy!! I looove mango! I can never find a good one at the grocery store...I don't blame you for attacking that beast island style! I can't believe it does that! I would have panicked and thought I was dying or something dramatic! Haha I'm glad you are on the mend now! :) Lesson learned right?

  6. you are so funny! I hope your lips are feeling better. that mango did look delicious. I probably would have done the same thing. lol It sounds like you're having too much fun :)

  7. Wow! I have never heard of any such thing...I've had poison ivy all over my arms before, and that was bad enough! That sure doesn't look like any fun, glad you're getting better!

  8. Oh no!! Reminder to self - watch how you eat a mango.

  9. First of all, I was highly expecting a WAY better photo. I wanted to see the PUSS and the up-close CRUST!!!!

    I was sorely (pun intended) disappointed.

    Second of all, I'm glad you're feeling better. Now you can get back to making out with your hubs.

  10. Oh my goodness!! How crazy, who knew?? Hope you feel better soon, dear!!

  11. Hahaha Mish's comment is hilarious. But yes, this is a real thing!! When I first started my job, one of my co-workers told me that in one of our study abroad programs, a kid got really excited about the mangoes wherever he was because they were so fresh and so good. He had eaten like 11 of them and woke up the next morning and his lips were swollen to the point where he couldn't open them.

  12. No making out for you and J. Or else he's totally asking for it. ;-)

    And I didn't even notice anything in that picture. You should have posted a photo of the mango itch in full force. I was expecting to be delightfully disgusted.

    However, I'm glad it's gone! And I now know that mango skin and poison ivy/oak are THE SAME DAMN THING. That is kind of important to know!

  13. Ummmmm, ouch! That is super not fun. I never would have known that about mango skin, that is a really useful piece of information that doesn't seem to be widely known...

  14. Hope the mago itch has improved! If it makes you feel any better... you dont look bad! I cannot even tell in the pictures you posted, but i am sure that it hurts a bit! hope you are feelin better! Here's a little get well: The Versatile Blogger Award for you!
    PS Congrats!

  15. I hope you feel better! I get the same thing with fresh pineapple lately, which never used to happen. I can't eat the fresh fruit at all, as my lips will break out in blisters almost immediately (oranges are starting to do it too, which makes me wonder if I am developing a citrus allergy :(
    But I can drink juices no problem... so weird!

  16. Yikes! How scary! I have never had that reaction to a mango, but I have had a similar experience with pineapple, if I eat too much of it. Very sad - because it is tasty. :D


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