Friday, June 5, 2009

Hazards in the field

Long time readers may remember that last year in Ukenzagapia I
discovered that I'm allergic to mangos. The urushiols in the skin give
me a poison ivy-like rash and make my lips feel chapped.

I also discovered last year that there is a plant in the same family
(Anacardiaceae) as mangos and poison ivy at my field site. After my
guide explained to me that it was "like mango" and handed me some
crushed leaves to smell, I explained to him that I get a rash around
my lips if I eat mango. I gestured around my lips as I explained. As
soon as I did that I realized how stupid that was- I touched the
leaves and then touched my lips! I didn't get a rash really but my
lips did get chapped.

On my very first day in the field this year I was digging my fingers
into a fruit I found in attempts to identify it when my field
assistants told me it's "related to mango." Whoops. I promptly dropped
the fruit and explained my allergy to them.

Two days ago I started to get a rash on my arm near the bend in my
elbow. Now i have about two quarter-sized spots and some straggler
bumps. From the pattern it appears that I scratched my arm against the
plant. I can identify poison ivy without leaves and from the highway
at 60 mph, but not this plant yet. I've got to learn to identify it

Also, I should note that I managed to pull myself together this
morning and stop panicking. I had a great day. I don't know what was
going on yesterday. I was a terrible mess.


Albatross said...

Glad things are going better despite the hazardous mango-relatives!

EcoGeoFemme said...

Yay for things looking up!

Bummer about the rash. EGM got poison ivy well over 2 weeks ago and it's still lingering. I hope your rash gets better faster than that!

S. said...

How weird! I have the same mango allergy! I can eat them but I can't let the peel touch my mouth. Cheers!