When I peel chayotes and handle the raw flesh of the fruit, my fingers get sticky and a white solid "film" forms on my fingers. The film makes my skin feel restricted/tight. I washed my hands with soap but it doesn't go away. Is this normal? Is there a name for this chemical reaction?


3 Answers 3


This problem can occur with several foods including squashes, pumpkins, zucchini, and even cucumber. From what I’ve read, it is caused by a sort of sap that the fruit emits when it is cut, and it’s worse in fruits that aren’t fully ripe. (Fruit is used in the botanical sense.) Remove by simply soak your hands in warm soapy water for about 5 minutes. Then scrub them with the scrubby side of a sponge. Be sure to scrub any surface area that had the film on it. You can soak your hands longer and less scrubbing will be required.


That is the starch oxidizing, which according to the rather interesting research is methanol soluble - so you could probably use rubbing alcohol, vodka or even lemon juice to clean your hands effectively.

I looked at the thread about butternut, and in my opinion, it seems that the clear to yellowish sap released upon bruising of the flesh of the vegetable has evolved as a self-healing self-defense system. It appears to be an oxidizing agent that absorbs and crystallizes with moisture, which binds bacteria, microorganisms and insects. And dries out your skin.

  • 6
    I am very unconvinced by this answer. Why would starch oxidizing be felt with the skin? If it is starch oxidation, why doesn't it happen when we peel other starch-rich foods like potatoes? If it is so full of antioxidants, why does it oxidize as soon as it hits the air? Also, neither lemon juice nor vodka should contain any methanol, you can probably sue the producer if it is present in your vodka.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 26, 2017 at 14:15
  • On a separate note, independent ot the answer being correct or not, any discussion of health properties of food is off topic here. So I had to remove one paragraph speaking of it, in my role as a moderator. (To make it clear: the other comment about doubting the correctness of your answer was made from my perspective as a user, so the on topic parts of the answer are not in danger of being removed or moderated.)
    – rumtscho
    Nov 26, 2017 at 14:18
  • @rumtscho - totally ok with the edit. Nov 26, 2017 at 15:26
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    And furthermore, it seems that this starch is not found in subterranean vegetables like potatoes. Nov 26, 2017 at 15:55
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    A few things seem suspicious here. You say it's starch, but later in a comment you say "will denature that protein" - starch and protein are totally different. You say "this starch is not found in... potatoes" but potatoes have tons of starch, and you don't explain how it's different or what's special about chayote. You say butternut is about sap, but the dry/tight skin happens without any visible sap released. And you don't have a source for the core claim that oxidizing starch is the core reason (and as rumtscho pointed out, it seems implausible).
    – Cascabel
    Nov 26, 2017 at 21:40

It appears that the Chayote Squash may have inflammatory properties which may cause skin and even intestinal irritation. If you or someone you know have developed an allergic reaction to this and other fruit, please stop using it and consult a physician or allergist.

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    Welcome! Would this allergy normally cause a sticky feeling and film to form? The OP doesn't seem to be describing irritation per se. I'd be curious to learn more.
    – Erica
    Apr 27, 2020 at 0:45

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