Dermatitis Venenata Produced by an Irritant Present in the Stem Sap of the Mango (Mangifera Indica L.)

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  • Hawaiian Department Laboratory, United States Army, , Honolulu, Hawaiian Territory

Summary

  1. 1.Dermatitis venenata similar to that caused by plants of the Rhus family is often produced by the mango (Mangifera indica L.).
  2. 2.Mango dermatitis is characterized by itching, erythema, intense edema, macules, papules, vesicles and pustules followed by pigmentation, desquamation and often by definite scar production.
  3. 3.Experiments show that the lesions are not the result of specific foreign protein skin reactions; but are produced by a nonprotein skin irritant, which is present chiefly or entirely in the stem-sap of either ripe or green fruit.
  4. 4.The irritant is not volatile. It is soluble in toluol, xylol, ether, alcohol, chloroform, carbon-bisulphide, carbon tetrachloride and methyl alcohol. It has not been found in either fresh or old bark tree-sap, or in old, dark, gummy stem-sap. It is probably destroyed by an oxidase present in the stem-sap.
  5. 5.No marked differences were noted in the amounts of irritant present in stem-saps from mangos of different varieties.
  6. 6.The dermatitis is most commonly seen in children and in certain susceptibile adults. Variations in susceptibility are probably influenced by differences in the thickness and condition of the skin, and in the amount and state of the irritant.
  7. 7.The most efficacious treatment used here has been early applications of ether, followed by 95 per cent alcohol, to remove the soluble irritant and the use of a lotion containing phenol, to allay itching. Neither ether alone nor fatty ointments, should be used because of the danger of spreading the irritant.
  8. 8.Seven of thirteen cases studied were extremely susceptible to rhus poisoning. In the remaining six cases there was no history of rhus dermatitis, nor of contact with the plant. Of these six cases, two had previously had fish poisoning, and one strawberry poisoning.
  9. 9.Mangos may be eaten even by susceptible persons, without danger of developing dermatitis, if care is taken to avoid contact with stem sap.

Author Notes

Major, Medical Corps, U. S. Army.

Captain, Medical Corps, U. S. Army.

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