GardenDrumThe dangers of mango sap

Phil Dudman mango fruit

Photo Phil Dudman

Did you know that mango sap is a very acidic and can cause terrible skin burns? Mango pickers in the Northern Territory in the coming harvest season will be required to wear protective cream as part of a new recruitment program.

Top End Recruiting says the sap builds up on the skin during the picking season and that some mango pickers can be so badly affected that they can spend up to a week in hospital. In 2012, 82 pickers presented at emergency at Katherine Hospital with mango sap burns.

The sap can squirt out from the stem when the mango is pulled off the stem, reaching distances of several metres. If it hits the eyes, it creates a very painful sting. On unprotected skin, even people not normally allergic to anything will be affected by mango sap after a few days. The burns become unbearably itchy, exacerbated by the humid climate, and the skin develops a ‘mango rash’ of small blisters.

Picking machines put the picked fruit immediately through an antacid wash so those handling the fruit later aren’t likely to be affected, but if you have a mango tree at home, BEWARE! Wear long sleeves and eye protection to pick your mangoes.

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8 thoughts on “The dangers of mango sap

  1. I learned the hard way – back in 1995 I must have ingested some of the sap on my hands after picking mangoes from my Brisbane garden tree. I went into a coma and was rushed to hospital. I survived but the pain, a migraine of staggering intensity, on a scale of 1 to 10 I’d register it 11, kept me in an agonising delirium for days. I didn’t eat another mango for years, then began cautiously attempting one a year. I can now enjoy them again, though I buy them from supermarkets now I am in England. I suspect that antacid bath you mention protects us from such intense allergies these days.

  2. 3 years ago I rented a place that had 2 mango trees. I developed a rash several times & never knew what it was. I had tests to determine the cause of the rash but results were inconclusive. I live in an area where mango trees are everywhere. Funny thing is as soon as I moved out of that property the rash stopped.

  3. Recently I have experience this in Malaysia. However, I believe this is not true for all varieties of mangoes as I have been exposed to several other varieties of mango sap elsewhere in the world.

  4. I picked few Mangos from my gareden in Colombo. I feel som skin irritation on that day and some black colour blisters appeared in my skin just after a day.Now I know whats the problem. Thanks Ctherine. I applied some amtbiotic gell Fusidin

  5. a drop of sap has fallen into my left eye yesterday and I washed my eyes with water. Today my left eye is red and painful. No blisters are visible. i hope it will go in a few days.

  6. what can be used to wash the sap off of mangos? I am highly allergic to the sap, rash all over, went to Urgent Care, got a shot of Prednisone and a packet of pills to take for a week. I love mangoes. I am using Rubber gloves, but wonder what can be done to remove the sap from the mangoes before peeling.

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