Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

Posts Tagged ‘itchy rash’


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 7, 2017

Many people who experience allergic reactions after eating cashews have wondered what makes cashews so darned allergenic. Urushiol oil in the cashew shells is partly responsible and is also present in the other members of the cashew family: mangoes, pistachios, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

The mango is less of an allergy problem than cashews, because the urushiol oil is mainly in the skin of the fruit that can easily be peeled while wearing gloves to avoid contact with the oil. The oil is also in the shells of pistachios, while the oil in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac is found within the leaves.

The bigger issue with cashews is the caustic oils within the cashew shells that are released during processing. Harvesting cashews is a complex process few people in the developed world encounter. The details are shocking and very concerning and may explain what makes cashews an allergy issue for sensitive people. And as they say, “the devil is in the details” — and those details are not all positive.

Most nuts can be harvested and shelled with ease without causing toxic oils to flow from their shells, but cashews are unique in every way, from their strange growing habit to the harvesting and shelling processes The challenge for those

DYWPKB Cashew nuts growing on a tree This extraordinary nut grows outside the fruit

harvesting cashews is avoiding the caustic oils trapped between the two shells that protect the cashew nuts.

When consumers buy and enjoy cashews, they rarely, if ever, consider the struggles some workers experience when processing the nuts. Workers harvesting cashews earn a meager few dollars a day and many suffer from their effort because cashews, unlike any other nuts, pose real harvesting challenges.

The cashew nut, which is actually a seed, grows in a most unusual way–it simply hangs from the bottom of the fruit of the cashew tree known as cashew apple. The apple fruit itself hangs from a woody stem on a branch.

Native to Brazil, the cashew tree spread to India and East Africa by Portuguese missionaries in the 1600s. Today, India, Latin America, Africa, Vietnam, and other tropical areas throughout Southeast Asia are productive cashew regions.

In its raw form, the cashew nut is soft, white, and mealy, but when roasted, it turns a light beige color and becomes firm and intensely rich in flavor. Cashews are never sold in the shell because of the toxic residues that require careful processing to extract the nut safely.

The cashew harvesting challenge

Unlike any other tree nut, the cashew nut is a harvesting nightmare. The nut itself is encased in a shell consisting of two very tough layers–the hard outer shell and a thin, reddish skin that clings to the nut. Between those layers is the caustic substance, known as shell oil or anacardic acid and its byproducts, cardanol and urushiol. These oils contain toxic and allergenic substances that can cause burns and blisters on unprotected hands. If eaten raw, the untreated cashew causes burns on the tongue and throat.

The task of harvesting the cashew nuts frequently falls to poor, indigenous people who harvest by hand and work for pennies a day without protective gloves or goggles. For safe harvesting, workers ought to wear protective gear like gloves and goggles and avoid prolonged contact with the cashew oils or sap to prevent burning and blistering of the hands and fingers. Sadly, these precautions are seldom heeded.

The harvesting process

When the cashew fruit and nuts are fully ripened, they may fall to the ground or can be taken off the tree with a twist of the wrist. To extract the nut, the unshelled cashews are first sun-dried for several days. At this stage, the nuts can be stored for up to two years before processing.

The next step is roasting the nuts in their shells, a process that takes place outdoors to dissipate the toxic fumes and to avoid physical contact with the toxic oils that could be dangerous in enclosed areas.

Conducting the roasting outdoors makes good sense, but the roasting process emits a considerable amount of smoke that releases urushiol oil into the air. Inhaling this toxic shell oil fumes often causes irritation to the throat and lungs that can even be life-threatening to some people.

To protect the eyes from the noxious fumes, workers would benefit from wearing goggles that offer some protection. Unfortunately, the workers are rarely given such protection.

Often, crudely assembled roasting pans are covered with a lid or the nuts are covered with a layer of sand in the pans to prevent the heated shell oil from spitting out liquid. After roasting for 10 to 20 minutes, workers wash the nuts with soap and water with unprotected hands. Rarely are gloves provided, and shell oil residues may still be present on the nut.

In some regions the cashews are haphazardly grilled over a fire in a tin can filled with leaves and covered to avoid the sap exploding and hitting people with the black sticky substance. However, occasionally the sap does spew out and leaves marks on the skin that stays for days. The sap also stains clothing permanently. Sometimes workers suffer permanent damage from burns on the hands from the caustic oils.

During the roasting process, the high heat frequently opens the cashew shells, causing them to release the toxic oils. Sometimes these hot oils catch fire, tossing the dangerous fumes into the air, causing burns to the eyes and mucous membranes of the mouth, throat, and skin of nearby workers.

Cracking the nuts

After roasting, in some regions, the nuts are covered with ash or sawdust to absorb and remove any of the oils remaining in the shells. Then, the nuts are then ready to crack open, a process usually done by hand. In India, some workers use mallets to crack the shells and wire remove the nuts. Modern processing by machine, such as using centrifugal force to crack the nuts, makes this step faster, but the cost is prohibitive for many of the poor cashew farmers.

Following the shelling and washing process, the nuts are then placed on open racks or in ovens to dry the testa, the thin, paper-like skins that cling to the nuts. Making the testa dry and brittle makes it easier to remove the skins. Drying the nuts also helps to extend the shelf life of the cashews and prevents them from becoming rancid.

The skins are then removed by hand, sometimes with bamboo knives.

Roasting and packaging

The final step in the processing cycle is roasting the nut kernels to remove any remaining traces of shell oil residues that can cause skin eruptions or contact dermatitis similar to poison ivy. The nuts are then graded, separated for quality, and packaged and packed for export.

When American consumers see beautiful, jumbo size cashews in an attractive store display, they never see the suffering that brings those delicious nuts to market. Time Magazine wrote an article about “blood cashews,” describing workers in Vietnam who harvest cashews in forced labor camps where they are frequently beaten and tortured with electric shocks.

Understanding the labor-intensive process involved in cashew harvesting and the dangerous challenges of processing the nuts, makes it easy to see why the nuts are never sold in the shell.


Cashew Tree Byproducts

Those who might think the caustic shell oil had no value and is simply discarded may be surprised to learn that very caustic, blackish liquid is used in the automotive industry to make brake linings and clutch disks, items that can withstand friction and heat resistance. The liquid is essential in many other products like acid-resistant paints, resins, varnishes, enamels, black lacquers, and mouldings.

In some regions, the liquid is also used medicinally to treat leprosy, elephantiasis, psoriasis, ringworm, warts, and corns.

Because the wood of the cashew tree is insect repellent, it is used for bookcases and packing crates.

A resinous, sticky gum, referred to as Cashew Tree Latex, from the cashew tree can be used in place of gum Arabic, often used as glue for paper and book bindings. The gum can also act as a binding agent in the pharmaceutical industry for capsules and pills, a food stabilizer for juices, and in the production of cosmetics.

Indigenous people use every part of the cashew tree to create natural medicines or insect repellant. Everything from the leaves, bark, gum, wood, juice, and roots are put to good use. Even the testa, the paper-like skins covering the cashews, are used as cattle feed.

The misery of cashew allergies

Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, and pecans, contain proteins that cause allergic, and sometimes life-threatening reactions in sensitive people. Cashews, however, contain fewer of the allergenic substances than other tree nuts, yet the allergic reactions they cause can result in intensely itchy welts on the body and numbness around the mouth, lips, and tongue. Allergic reactions can differ from person to person and can be particularly distressing from cashews that were not harvested and processed with extreme care.

While some people never experience allergic reactions from consuming cashews, others who are more sensitive suffer miserably, often not realizing what is causing their problem.

I want to share some of the allergic reactions people have shared on this blog. It may be helpful to know others are experiencing similar reactions from consuming cashews:

  • Itchy rashes over large areas of the chest, back, and legs
  • Large patches of red welts or hives over the body
  • A chapped feeling on the lips
  • Numbness of the lips and mouth area
  • Calloused fingers
  • Pale stools
  • Stomach bloating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Stomach irritation
  • Blisters on the skin

Though these reactions are annoying and uncomfortable, they are not life-threatening.

Severe Reactions

Really sensitive people may even react to small traces of nut residues left on equipment during food processing. People who experience life-threatening reactions like anaphylactic shock know they need to avoid nuts completely and be on the alert to also avoid products like nut oils used in home products or body care cosmetics. Even foods processed in facilities that may have traces of nuts should be avoided.

Some people have thought cooking or heating nuts might reduce their allergenic properties, but heating does not offer this benefit. The allergenic proteins remain in the nuts even after cooking.

Interesting Tidbits

Cashew trees were so valued in Mozambique that during a household census people were asked if they had a cashew tree on their property.

In some of the areas where cashews are grown, cashew shoots are eaten as fresh salad.

Bolo polana, a cake made of finely ground cashews and mashed potatoes is a favorite in Mozambique and South Africa.

Cashew milk is frequently a substitute or alternative for dairy products used in some areas of Africa.

Kaju barfi is an Indian dessert made from finely ground cashews, sugar, cardamom, butter, and saffron and cooked to form firm dough. It is then rolled out and cut into diamond shapes.

Turrones de kasuy, a dessert similar to marzipan, is made from cashews, or kasuy, the Tagalog word for cashew. The confection is a specialty that comes from the province of Pampanga in the Philippines.

Fresh cashew apple fruits taste sweet and juicy and are fragrant but can leave the tongue and lips feeling unpleasant. For that reason, they are usually boiled and strained and boiled repeatedly.

Some varieties of mangoes can cause blisters on the skin. Sensitive people will find it helpful to wear protective gloves when peeling fresh mangoes.

The cashew kernel, or nut, contains 21% vegetable protein, comparable to the proteins in milk, eggs, and meat.

Cashew Apple Uses

The cashew apple is rich in vitamin C and could be considered an economical product. The apples can be dried, canned as a preserve, eaten fresh from the tree, and squeezed to enjoy as a juice. Brazilians make jam from the cashew apple as well as soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

In West Africa, the juice is fermented to make cashew wine, but other countries throughout Asia and Latin America where the cashew tree is prolific enjoy cashew wine as well. The wine typically varies in alcoholic content from 6 to 12 percent.


Agriculture Nigeria. “Cashew Production.” http://agriculturenigeria.com/farming-production/crop-production/cash-crops/cashew

Azeez, O.S. Production of Gum from Cashew Tree Latex, Chemical Engineering Department, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria http://lejpt.academicdirect.org/A07/17_22.htm

‘Blood cashews'” the toxic truth about your favorite nut. The Telegraph. Bee Wilson, May 4, 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11577928/Blood-cashews-the-toxic-truth-about-your-favourite-nut.html

Cashew Harvesting: Learn When And How To Harvest Cashews. Gardening Know How. Liz Baessler. December 29. 2015. http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/nut-trees/cashew/how-to-harvest-cashews.htm

Cashew. Wikipedia. July 13, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew http://www.fao.org/3/a-ac306e.pdf

Azam-Ali, S.H, and E.C. JudgeSmall-scale cashew nut processing. Schumacher Centre for Technology and Development. Burton on Dunsmore, Rigby, Warwickshire, UK, FAO, 2001

Enclyclopedia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/plant/cashew. Department of Agriculture. http://www.nda.agric.za/docs/Infopaks/cashew.htm

Let’s Talk Agric – Developing Agriculture in Africa. Friday, May 5, 2017 http://www.letstalkagric.com/agribusiness/cashew-nuts-need-know-cashew-farming

Turrones de Casoy. About Filipino Food. http://aboutfilipinofood.com/turrones-de-kasoy/

Posted in cashews, Nut Uses, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 6, 2015


Need a little argan oil to soften your dry skin? I had never heard of the stuff until recently, but I’m learning quickly about its allergenic challenges along with its benefits, thanks to the helpful comments I received on this blog. The oil comes from a tree nut, which explains why people with tree nut allergies are experiencing skin irritation after using the oil. arganoil2

Because argan oil and shea butter have beneficial moisturizing effects on the skin, many cosmetic, body, and hair care manufacturers include them in a host of new products. They’re in common use today and turning up everywhere, causing unpleasant allergic reactions in people who suffer from tree nut allergies.

Prompted by the comment about a previous post (Beware the Cashew Allergy–and the Secret Mango Culprit!), I began to research the plaguing issue of allergic reactions from nut-derived ingredients, like tree nut oils, in body care and beauty products. What seems cashew2like a benign moisturizing lotion designed to soothe and comfort dry skin just might be the hidden culprit of a miserably itchy rash.

People with serious tree nut allergies are almost always super-vigilant about avoiding any kind of nuts oralmond3 foods that contain nuts or nut oils, knowing that eating them will cause serious reactions, like anaphylaxis, that could send them to the emergency room. Serious tree nut allergies don’t usually come and go–they are generally life-long.

But what about people who rarely eat nuts and don’t realize they may have sensitivity to tree nuts and products containing nuts and nut oils?

Common tree nuts include Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, and walnuts. Uncommon tree nuts, used mostly in the form of oils in cosmetics and beauty, hair, and body care products include the argan nut, sold as argan oil, and shea nut, marketed as shea butter.

Milder reactions to tree nuts may result in itchy rashes or pesty eczema that people might not readily trace back to nuts or nut products. After all, nuts are healthy foods packed with vitamins, minerals, and a host of antioxidants. Sufferers of these nasty, and sometimes very ugly, rashes may be applying beauty and body care products regularly without realizing they are THE PROBLEM. Another puzzler is allergic symptoms that show up after long-time use of a nut-or nut-oil-containing product.
almond2Manufacturers may say their product does not contain detectable protein residues from tree nuts, the trigger that causes allergic reactions, yet people sensitive to tree nuts and nut oils still react with eczema, rashes, and skin eruptions that drive them crazy with severe itching or burning.

Seeds, like sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, and flax, and oils from these seeds are also troublesome for some allergy sufferers and may cause similar reactions.

The real issue is that people don’t tend to read ingredient labels of the body care products they buy. And in some cases, not all of the ingredients are listed on the product label because there are so many. In those cases, consumers are encouraged to contact the product manufacturer. Because the ingredients of these products are usually in a daunting list of unfamiliar chemicals, most people ignore them.

While tree nut or seed oils used in cosmetic products may appear in the ingredient list, warning notations below the ingredient lists are rare and strictly voluntary. Just like foods containing tree nuts and other food allergens must be disclosed by naming the specific nut on the product packaging, the same ought to be protocol for body care and cosmetic products.

A warning on product labels like the following would be invaluable to those who must avoid these challenging allergens: “Warning: This product contains oils derived from tree nuts and/or seeds.

Poor Claude (comment section below) suffered a double whammy when he first applied argan oil to soothe the rash on his hands and body caused by eating cashews and pistachios. Argan oil is derived from a nut tree grown in Morocco. Users of the oil consider it a healthy culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal oil, but for Claude, the oil added fuel to the fire.

Then, when Claude applied Cetaphil Lotion to alleviate his rashy misery, the rash worsened. Little did he realize that the macadamia oil in this product piled more fuel onto the raging fire. The product lists the macadamia oil in its ingredients, but Claude was unsuspecting that he actually had a nut allergy.

Here’s the note from Claude:
“Thank you, Zel, for helping lots of people, including me. Argan oil is from a tree nut, very similar to Pistachio. Lots of people report rash with Argan oil (used for hair & skin). I have rash on my hands & body recently from eating cashew and pistachio. Then I was foolish to use Argan oil for the rash & bleeding skin. And it got TWICE WORSE. If you Google pictures of Pistachio versus Argan nuts … the clusters are similar.

“Then I bought Cetaphil lotion (has Macadamia nut oil), and the rash got even worse !!! Thanks to your blog, I’ll stop eating cashew & pistachio. Will give away the Argan oil & Cetaphil lotion (recommended by dermatologists!!!)”

Those who are allergic to tree nuts might want to add argan oil to their list of allergens to avoid. Argan arganoil may contain similar proteins as tree nuts that trigger life-threatening allergic reactions, namely shortness of breath and anaphylaxis, and should be avoided.

Argan oil is extracted from the almond-like nuts of the argan tree, Argania spinos, a fruit-bearing tree that grows wild in the desert regions of Morocco, Israel, and Algeria. The nuts, considered the fruit of theArgan Nuts tree, are classified as tree nuts. Because argan oil is not highly refined and is cold-pressed, it may retain some or all of the allergenic protein that causes allergenic skin reactions in some people.
Argan tree
Allergic reactions to argan oil include skin eruptions that might resemble acne appearing on the neck, upper back, chest, and around the hairline. Other people may react with contact dermatitis, appearing as red, scaly and itchy skin.

One person loved the way her skin looked while using argan oil but reported having a sore throat and swelling of the tongue she never connected to the oil until she discontinued using it and the symptoms disappeared.

After using argan oil shampoo, some people developed severe dryness of the scalp, itching, and even pain.

Beauty in the Breakdown Blog reported dramatic breakouts with red, itchy, bumpy, and burning rash over the hands, face, shoulders and head after using argan oil on the hair.

Blog author Emily Bell says, “From my research, I have collected my own preliminary list of what to avoid in beauty products if you have a tree nut allergy: argan oil, almond oil, macadamia nut oil, shea butter, ginkgo biloba, and any derivation of walnuts such as walnut shell powder or Brazil nuts such as Brazil nut protein (in the Aveda Be Curly Style-Prep).

“In going back and inspecting all my beauty products, I have seen it all. There is also some debate on whether coconut oil should be added to the list, but I personally haven’t had a reaction to it. (Update: There is also some debate on whether shea butter should be on the list. I absolutely love the smell of shea butter but have yet to determine whether or not I react to it.)”

Sold as a non-greasy oil for softening and hydrating the skin, the argan oil is used on the scalp and hairarganoil__16010.1408225053.550.550 as well as the skin. As hair oil, it’s used to prevent frizzing and split ends. With its high fatty acids content, the oil is thought to aid in preventing brittle hair. Because it contains high levels of vitamin E and antioxidants, some consider it to have anti-aging properties that help the skin retain its elasticity, softness, and youthful appearance.

In addition to being the source of oil used in cosmetic products, the argan tree provides other benefits in its native region. Its leaves are healthy food for cattle, while the wood becomes fuel for indigenous people.

The oil also has culinary uses in the regions where the argan tree is grown. Home cooks drizzle it on couscous and other native foods. The oil extraction process produces a thick residue that’s sweetened by Berber cooks and used as a dip for bread, a traditional breakfast treat.

Medicinally, the oil is a good source of unsaturated fatty acids, tocopherol, and phenolic compounds considered beneficial in preventing cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, and atherosclerosis. Some studies reported the oil helps to lower cholesterol, stimulates circulation, and improves immune function.

SheaBecause I use so few cosmetics and body care products, Ith-1 never gave shea butter much thought and had no idea of its origin until now. Shea butter, I learned, is derived from a fruit-bearing nut tree that grows wild in West and Central Africa and is known by many names, sometimes called the karite nut or vitellaria paradoxa. The fruit of the tree looks similar to an avocado, and when crushed, it produces oil highly prized for use in cosmetics.

The oil of the shea nut contains only a minimal amount of protein, the constituent in tree nuts thatSheaButter2 triggers allergenic reactions. It’s not considered highly allergenic, but very sensitive people may want to exercise caution and avoid products containing shea butter. Though shea butter is not commonly used in cooking, it has sometimes provided a good substitute for cocoa butter used in chocolate processing.

Allergic symptoms may be as severe as anaphylaxis and asthma or mild as allergic rhinitis. Using shea butter can also result in annoying symptoms like dermatitis or hives, known medically as urticaria, resulting in itching or burning. Some people have even reacted with vomiting.

On the positive side, one health study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 1979 noted a medicinal value for shea butter in reducing nasal congestion in people suffering from rhinitis. Known mainly for its ability to soften and soothe dry skin, shea butter is often applied to calm skin rashes, dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. Yet, for some people with tree nut allergy, shea butter is the cause of those miserable rashes and severe itching.

I want to express my appreciation to everyone who has taken the time to offer comments and encourage other to share their issues, too. Those comments were extremely helpful and are what prompted me to do a bit of research and share what I’ve learned about ingredients I never suspected would be problematic.

While my son is still plagued with itchy rashes that drive him a bit nutty, he is still sorting out troublesome ingredients that may be hidden in unexpected places.

Please do keep the comments coming. As new information comes my way, I’ll gladly pass it on in this very nutty blog.

“Argan oil.” Wikipedia.

Astier*, C., El Alaoui Benchad, Y.,. Moneret-Vautrin, D.-A., Bihain, B. E., and Kanny, G.. “Anaphylaxis to argan oil.” European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 15 Oct 2009. DOI: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02200.x

Bell, Emily. “Argan oil update: tree nut allergy?” Beauty in the Breakdown. June 20, 2013.

Berrougui, H., Cloutier, M., Isabelle, M., and Khalilm A.
“Phenolic-extract from Argan Oil (Argania spinosa L.) Inhibits Human Low-density Lipoprotein (LDL) Oxidation and Enhances Cholesterol Efflux 
from Human THP-1 Macrophages.” Atherosclerosis. 2006 Feb;184(2):389-96. Epub 2005 July 12.

Castle, Jill, “14 Hidden Allergens in Everyday Products: Common Foods and Non-Foods Contain Hidden Allergens.” About Health. January 25, 2015.

Drissi, A., “Argan Oil Research.” Amal Oils. http://www.amaloils.com/Argan-Oil-Research

Drissi, A., Bennani, H., Giton, F., Charrouf, Z., Fiet, J., and Adlouni, A. “Tocopherols and Saponins Derived from Argania spinosa Exewrt, an Antiproliferative Effect on Human Prostate Cancer” Cancer Invest. 2006 Oct; 24(6):588-92.

“Food Allergen Labeling And Consumer Protection Act of 2004 Questions and Answers.” FDA: U.S. Food and Drug Administration. July 18. 2006.

“Is Argan Oil Safe For People With Tree Nut Allergies?”. OneSpot Allergy http://blog.onespotallergy.com/2014/04/is-argan-oil-safe-for-people-with-tree-nut-allergies/

“Nut and Peanut Allergy.” Teens-Health from Nemours.

Orwa C, A Mutua, Kindt R , Jamnadass R, S Anthony. Vitellaria paradoxa. Shea oil, shea butter, beurre de karate. 2009 Agroforestree Database:a tree reference and selection guide version 4.0 http://www.worldagroforestry.org/sites/treedbs/treedatabases.asp

“Special Precautions when Using Moroccan Oil Shampoo.” Argan Oil Care. July 15, 2014.

Summers, Gerrie. “Shea Butter: What It Is, Why It Works.” About Style.

Tella, A. “Preliminary studies on nasal decongestant activity from the seed of the shea butter tree, Butyrospermum parkii.”
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1979 May; 7(5): 495-497.

“Tips for Avoiding Your Allergen.” FARE: Food Allergy Research & Education.

“Tree Nut Allergies.” FARE, Food Allergy Research & Education

“What are Argan trees; what is argan oil?” Yahoo Answers.

Posted in Nut Allergies, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »


Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 21, 2012

My husband has had a love affair with raw cashews for years and never had an allergic reaction to them. He’s also enjoyed mangoes and eats them with gusto whenever they’re in season. He’s nibbled on a couple of handfuls of cashews almost daily for years—that is, until now. Here’s an account of the surprising tale of the cashew allergy and the sneaky mango offender.

We traveled from our home in Los Angeles to the Philippines to visit our son who has been living and working there. Every day we feasted on the delicious and bountiful tropical fruits like longan, lanzones, jackfruit, pineapples, and the sweetest mangoes, ever.

Almost daily, we were enjoying those succulent mangoes with gusto and had them mainly for breakfast and occasionally for lunch. They were difficult to resist with their ultra silky smooth flesh and practically hairless texture. It was easy to cut into them and munch the flesh right off the mango seed.

One afternoon, my husband concluded his lunch with one of those irresistible mangoes, then, put on his socks and shoes for a fun outing that followed. Within an hour or two, he was scratching at his ankles that began to itch annoyingly. When he rolled his socks down to examine the cause of the itching, he saw a bright, red rashy area that practically encircled his ankles.

An internet search for mango allergy turned up a surprising bit of allergy information. Mangoes can, indeed, cause an itchy rash in sensitive people who handle the peel and eat the area directly under the skin. My husband remembered peeling the mango for lunch and made the connection that the mango residue on his hands came in direct contact with his ankles as he put on his socks. Fortunately, he was able to connect the mango to his itchy rash.

For several months our son had been suffering from an itchy rash that covered the upper portion of his body and his arms, but he could never find the cause. As the rash and itching worsened, he began taking medication to gain relief, but found little success. In an effort to trace the source of the problem, he began experimenting with different laundry detergents, lotions, and body-care items. He also began eliminating common foods known to be allergens, but nothing helped, until my husband’s dramatic mango reaction.

While we were together, our son also experienced a swelling and numb sensation in his lips and the area around his mouth. That symptom lasted for several days before subsiding. That, too, was mentioned in the research on mango allergy. The research was an aha moment for both my husband and our son who both swore off mangoes.

The rash on my husband’s ankles lasted for three weeks before subsiding. About a week after we returned from our Philippine visit, my husband resumed his handful of cashews and within an hour he began scratching his back. Sure enough, his back was broken out in a bright red rash that looked like slightly raised, individual red pimples–tons of them.

Then came another aha moment. That mango research mentioned the cashew family that includes cashews, pistachios, poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. Now, both mangoes and cashews are off the menu for my husband and our son.

When we mentioned our mango experience to our other son, he told us he also experienced the numbness around his mouth and lips when eating mango. It appears there’s a heredity factor, so beware the cashew allergy and the hidden mango culprit.

Hopefully, my family’s rashy account may help solve a rashy mystery for others.

Posted in cashews, Nut Allergies, Nut Oddities, Nuts and Health, pistachios | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 130 Comments »

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