Honey: The Simple Solution to Mango Rash

Occam’s Razor: At its simplest, William Ockham posited—more than 500 years ago—that when faced with multiple solutions to a problem, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.

green mango
Photo credit: Reji through Creative Commons License.

The dogs had been walked and my husband kissed good night. When my eyes started drooping and my iPad slipped from my grasp, I gave up the story in my hands and the fight to stay awake and snapped off the bedside light. And that’s exactly when my eyes started scratching and burning in earnest.

More specifically, it was the skin above my eyes. My eyelids had started bothering me two days prior after peeling three mangoes—one particularly green—for my morning smoothie.

Now, I’d always known that mangoes could produce an allergic reaction. They belong to the same botanical family as poison ivy, and the sap of the mango tree and the rind of the fruit contain oil called urushiol that can generate the same kind of skin rash as that from a brush with poison ivy.

I’ve picked mangoes from trees. Eaten them like an apple. Peeled hundreds during the nearly 15 years I’ve lived in Hawaii. Next to watermelon, mango may be my favorite summertime fruit.

I’d never had a reaction.

But the other night in bed, I wanted to ball my hands into fists and dig them into my eyes. I wanted to bury my head in my pillow and wiggle my face around its bamboo pillowcase with the determinedness of a dog digging for crabs in the sand.

So, I fired up my iPad again and searched for “mango allergy treatment.”

I learned that some people can go years without a reaction. I learned that green fruit contains more of the dreaded oil. When it came to treatment, every single website I visited said a visit to a doctor was in order where a skin test would be conducted and medication prescribed.

But a doctor’s visit wouldn’t help me when I needed it most—right then as the clock neared midnight, right then as I wanted to find some of my husband’s sandpaper and apply it to my skin with rigor. Furthermore, I had a plane to catch the next morning at 7:00, so there would be no doctor’s visit the next day, either.

At the very least, an antihistamine, I read, might get me through the night. So, I searched through drawers in the kitchen and the bathrooms. I pummeled through our first aid kit. No antihistamine. No where.

I went back to scrolling through search results. Several pages in, one caught my itchy eye—something about natural treatments. I clicked, and I was presented with a myriad of solutions to my problem:

1. A mixture of salt and witch hazel.

2. A mix of tea tree oil and aloe vera gel.

3. A cooled tea bag poultice.

4. A mixture of Fuller’s earth and turmeric.

5. Honey.

I knew some of these ingredients. I even owned some. But I didn’t have an available dropper to get the measurements right. I didn’t know whether the tea should be green or black. I had no idea what Fuller’s earth was. There was the matter of the sleeping husband who I didn’t want to disturb. And my eyes were itching like a gluttonous tick feasting on an unsuspecting dog.

So, I tried the honey—a few dabs above each eye. And in the 24 steps it took for me to get from kitchen to bed, the itching, the burning, the urge to gouge out my eyes went away. Immediately. Completely. Miraculously. Easily.

43 thoughts on “Honey: The Simple Solution to Mango Rash

  • Interesting, Kim. I eat a mango every day (YUM!!), haven’t had a bad reaction yet but being a
    person who has lots of allergies this may come in handy one day. Thanks. BTW, did you know that many plants that are toxic often grow in close proximity to their antidote?!! I was told this by an herbalist years ago.

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      • Aloha Kim,
        I don’t know “scientifically” or “officially” if honeybees like mango, but I do know from observation that we have A TON of honeybees in our common mango trees!! They are all abuzz when the trees are flowering:)
        Kristin
        Lahaina Maui

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  • Omg that is what mine did it begins around my eyes, my whole face blew up. And you could barely see my eyes because of the swelling. My lips were even slanted due to the swelling, it took oral steroids and a shot before it cleared …..thanks for the tip, will try next time

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  • Your insight is flawless, my eyes started first and the rash has spread all over ( having sweat in the sun for a few days now and many hot showers later…) I finally realized I had poision oak!!!!! But I live in Hawaii……… There is no poision oak…… So I researched and researched and thought about all the things I had done and came up with mangoes…….. Now I need to go try the honey because I’m.about to tear my eyes out plus inhabe breakout everywhere…. THANKS! I hope it works…….. Do you think it will work on my male areas?

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  • i got a really bad mango rash on my neck and face and i must say the only thing that has given me relief-i put my manuka honey on it. That was a few hours ago and the rash looks alot better. instantly cut down on the horrible itch. thanks so much for your comments to use honey-i will now wait be fore i buy any extra creams. really appreciated your info. jill

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  • hope this isnt a duplicate comment-computer acting up! anyway thanks to you i put manuka honey on my neck (which was the worse) and face for the mango rash i developed. instantly the horrible itch was calmed and (it’s been several hours) the rash looks alot better. i will wait before going to buy additional creams etc as i think this honey will really help. thanks again!!!! jill

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  • Agreed The Honey works, I’ve picked countless numbers of Mangos in all my years here in Florida and never had a reaction, Picked a bunch on Saturday night, loaded my arms up and carried them in the house, Sunday night I was covered with the rash and wanted to scratch my skin off, Found your post this morning, smothered myself in honey and within a few hours it’s cleared up, pretty much gone, Thx for your post as this wasn’t the usual got a little spot on your leg that got poison ivy, my chest, arms were covered & yep my eye was swollen half shut, I feel a 1000 times better, Many Thanks 🙂

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  • Picked mangos off tree for the first time. I will never do that again! Allergy all over the body, started on arms and ended up everywhere. After 5 days had to go to emergency dept. Got a shot, 2 sets of pills, now we know about honey. Many thanks!

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  • Wow honey.. am itching now an can’t sleep. Taking benadryl an using cortisone cream. Not really helping. Will try honey right now. Luv mangoes but they don’t like me. Have 2 trees in our yard.

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  • So glad I found your solution as I picked mangos a few days ago and got this terrible itchy rash. I tried numerous creams and essential oils, but nothing gave me the relief that I am now getting from the honey. Thank you for your post!

    Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve had a Mango tree in my yard since I bought my house. I got the same exact reaction to the Mango’s (Mango Sap) every time I touched Mango’s including a rash on my forearm where I used to hold them when I picked them up off the ground. For years I wasn’t exactly sure where the rash originated because I didn’t eat Mango’s until someone came over to look at my tree and told me that Mangos are from the Poison Ivy family and then it all made sense. The eye rashes are the worst part because they last for days and weeks at a time. I am having a bad reaction to them right now because my tree is full of them and when I stumbled across this I immediately sensed this person was having the same reaction in the eyes that I get except my eyelids get really swollen too. I immediately rubbed some honey on my eyelids and the severe itchiness subsided and the redness did too. They are still swollen but I can live with that. Maybe it takes time for the swelling to go down but I recommend the honey for this reaction. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Does it have to be local honey or can it be the teddy bear jar? I normally have local honey but happen to be out and haven’t been to the green market to restock. My dad sister niece daughter and myself have gotten it from 3 different households and each of us never having had a problem before. My 2 year old doesn’t listen when I say don’t itch so if honey works…

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  • Thank you Soooo much! I love mango’s my #1 fruit!! All my life!! Untill last year my mango tree at home produced fruit and I developed the Mango Rash!!! Fast forward to today,… Picking my second harvest of mangos from my tree and I’m not feeling good 😦 now I’m covered in honey and smiling!! If only I could wear this at work tomorrow! Many Thanks from South West Florida!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Soooo happy I found your blog! I just put some honey on my rashes and am hoping for it to not only stop the itch, but also clear up the awful dark spot it left on one arm (which doesn’t itch anymore). After decades of suffering from PI rashes up north, I just purchased this home with 3 trees that are covered with fruit. When I realised the rash was from the sap, I started wearing rubber gloves and cutting the stems farther back, and washing everything in contact with Dawn to break down the sap. I also warn all the happy recipients of the lovely fruit to be aware of the PI related sap. Not sure I want to keep the trees due to the allergy and work to keep the fruit picked and squirrels away. 😦 And gee, this gives a whole new meaning to the computer term “sticky keys” Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  • We just moved to St Croix. There are mangoes everywhere. There is even a mango festival tomorrow ( Mango Melee). Thanks to your post, I now have a hope for relief in the event that I encounter my favorite fruit inadvertently.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Going to try this !! Did you use manuka honey?
    We just visited Mexico and stayed on practically a mango farm my daughter went around collecting 60+ of them we flew home yesterday eyes a bit red and This morning one almost swollen shut! Dr said Benadryl but maybe the honey will help because seems slow to show relief!! Thank you:)

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  • I just got a bad rash on my hands this week after eating some mangoes from Kekaha. It’s like a bad case of poison ivy. I tried applying the honey earlier today…and there was a fairly immediate relief from the itching. Now I’m curious as to how long it takes for this to go away. I’m going to continue applying.

    Liked by 1 person

  • I have never had trouble with mangoes until recently. I’m up in the middle of the night, itching like crazy and researching. I came across your blog post, got out my honey, and am already feeling relief. Within minutes…. Thank you so much!!

    Liked by 1 person

  • PHEW!!…. Yeah for You!!… I thought it would be cool to do a mango facial…. yeah right…. so 1 week later, i am itching my face off, my eyes are almost swollen shut and i decide to go to the doctor, she give me a scrip of Fexofenadine for 30 days….. being really against big pharma, i just couldn’t take that stuff…. so i decided to take a long nap before taking any pills, got up and did MORE research… and… THANKS for being there!!! Just put on some wild raw honey…. feeling sticky and a little better.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Many people commented that they never had a problem w mangos, but then got a rash. Same w me. Im perimenopausal…lower estrogen means higher histomenes in our blood…equals more sensitive to allergies. Mango rind exposure has me covered in itchy welts.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Hey there 🙂 I’m Liz, owner of Let food fix it.com I am referencing this page in my blog today because guess who had a mango reaction? That’s right..ME! Your advice got me thru it without having to go the the ER. Trust me, it was that bad. It happened thursday, it’s now tuesday, and I’m still a little itchy all over my face. I super duper appreciate this advice, and I also wanted to let you know that I found this information that help me heal it from the inside. http://www.livestrong.com/article/19332-benefits-quercetin/ Thanks again for saving my sanity. I was a little sticky for a few days, but man…it was worth it!

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  • Like many others I was awakened in the middle of the night with an extremely itchy rash and after searching online came across your blog. Thank goodness! I used regular honey from Trader Joe’s and the itch went away immediately. One interesting note- my rash this time is due to either English ivy or Snow on the Mountain. I never knew that either of those plants could cause contact dermatitis in people who are extremely sensitive to mango rinds and poison ivy. I hope my pre dawn research helps others. Honey is a miracle cure! Thank you.

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