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Friday, August 16, 2013

Allergy Saga... SOLVED!

the hives behind my ear
Apparently I taunted my friends and family by saying I'd figured out what I was allergic to... but no one
was awake with whom to share the news. I was up for an hour or two after posting that status... but then I went to sleep...

Making my status blow up with people wanting to know when I finally woke up.

I started to explain, then realized while the answer is just a few words, it's actually got a longer explanation. And I might as well tell it to my blog readers too, right?

I'm allergic to mangoes! Well, actually to the mangoes peel/oil. Mangoes and poison ivy are related, actually. (They're both in the cashew family, so I'm guessing I should be careful around cashews too.) Mango peels/plants contain a small amount of the same oil people react to in poison ivy, just in such a small amount the majority of people do not react to it. But people who are very sensitive to it... me... will react to it.I actually hopefully can eat the fruit still, if someone else cuts it out of the peel, but I'm not planning on trying again until my hives go away.
a close up of my cheek. See how the hives are
small but ubiquitous? 

Yes, the hives are back. Sunday night one appeared at the corner of my mouth, and I was like... no.
Can't be hives again.  By Monday morning, it had spread to my lips. It had started on the lips last time too, but had been more severe. I had thought it was just cold sores at first. It wasn't really visible, like last time, when I looked leprous with horrible stuff all over my lips I thought was cold sores. It's just dry and scaly and lumpy. At a distance, my skin looks like it's aged by a decade or two. Then it spread a little to my chin, a random bit under my left eye. Then behind my left ear and on my hands. Then all over my cheeks and chin and on my belly and both hands...



I wondered if it was related to my tooth pain when I went to the dentist for my root canal. I had talked to a friend and she suggested maybe it was thrush and when I looked it up, oral thrush starts in the mouth. So I thought... yeah, maybe that's it. But the dentist said no, my gums and mouth looked fine. She suggested a lip balm, and did ask if I'd eaten any new foods or medications but I'd said no (because mangoes aren't new, right?) So then I knew the pain in my mouth and the rash were unrelated. Later that day it started spreading more, and I realized for sure it was the same hives, returned. Darn it.
As you can see, blessedly it doesn't look too bad.
But if you look close, all of my skin has a funny
texture from the hives, including my lips. Also you
can see the swollen area under my eye on my left
side (the right in this picture.)

Well, yesterday I was noticing how the rash on my hand looked like poison ivy. Which it had resembled last time too. So I googled "poison ivy like rash"... then, seeing all the responses for like poison oak, I amended it to "poison ivy like rash around the lips."

Bingo! Link after link saying mangoes!

At first, I was thinking it was from eating mango flavored stuff, though I wasn't sure why the reaction had gone away for a few weeks then, since we keep mango flavored tang around all the time. Then I actually read the articles.

Well first of all, the pictures match the reaction I'm having.

Which makes perfect sense.  Because I've never had a fresh mango in the US, even though I'd had dried mango, so that's why I'd never reacted over there. Also, while I was living with Ryan's parents, I never cut up a mango myself since I'd never had one fresh before moving to India, so I lacked confidence I'd do it right. Thirdly, I think when it was cut, I only ate the fruit that had been cut out of the skin, not touching the peel itself while living there. So that's why I never had this reaction until we were living on our own.

This is me a few years ago-- having a reaction to poison ivy. See
how severe it is?
Fourthly, that's why it went away for a few weeks. We hadn't had fresh mangoes for the past few weeks. And FIFTHLY, I had mango on Saturday. We went over to his parents house for lunch and for desert they sliced up mangoes... only they just partially sliced them. Like how with an orange you cut it in wedges and hold the peel and then eat the fruit... so your lips will be rubbing the inside of the peel while you eat? Like that.

AND the reaction to this allergy doesn't show up for 12-24 hours. Then it will spread to random parts of the body (like the back of my ear!) And it lingers unless you treat it (or I'm guessing, a crazy amount of time goes by). All of this fits the allergy perfectly. It also explains why I thought it was environmental. Since it was randomly showing up when I was doing all sorts of activities, I didn't see a link... but I bet, if I had a time machine to go back, the times it flared up was probably 12-24 hours after eating a mango!

my inner right elbow, currently.
And LASTLY, the nail on the coffin so to speak that sums up that this is definitely the culprit (so far as I know) is that this is an allergy to the oil. Plant oil. I realize I already mentioned this, but what is significant about it is that my very worst allergy I know of is also to... a plant oil. Specifically cedar tree oil in that instance, which not only can give me hives but can close up my airways. I do not, praise the Lord Jesus forever and ever, have any food allergies that I know of, so if this was a food allergy it would have been something new... but a plant oil? I know I'm sensitive to that. And since this actually the same oil in poison ivy, it's even something I'm an old hat at!

Theoretically, I should still be able to eat mangoes, so long as someone else cuts them up for me. And probably rolls them into the basket/bag I'm putting them in when I'm shopping. So as long as people don't use mango peels in food (I'm going to check- they do use orange and lemon zest after all) I probably don't need to avoid any foods. Sigh of relief. But I also plan on avoiding all mango stuff for a few weeks until I"m normal again, then do a taste test just to make sure I'm good before eating tons of mango stuff, you know?

Thanks to everyone for their concern. And thanks to this blogger who sounded the alarm. The first time around, my lips looked just like hers!

I'd also love some prayers because between the hives and the root canal, I've got the productivity of a sloth right now.

PS. I have a poll up on the left sidebar again! This one is about vlogging! Tell me your thoughts!

1 comment:

Thanks so much for comments, they delight me! Please keep your comments civil and while I read every comment, I reserve the right to delete ones that are especially negative. Thanks!

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