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Hort in the Home Landscape

A blog devoted to sharing timely horticulture topics and answering the questions of gardeners and homeowners.

Plants That Cause Skin Irritation

What comes to mind when you think of a plant that will cause a skin irritation? More than likely it's poison ivy. While poison ivy is an important plant to be aware of, there are many other plants that can cause varying levels of skin irritations.

These plants can be broken down into 5 different categories: 

1. Poison plants include poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

-They all contain a toxin called urushiol oil

-This toxin is present in the sap of the plant. Touching this type of plant can cause skin rashes and blisters.

2. Skin irritant plants include, among others, spurges, poinsettias, pencil cactus, daffodils, hyacinths, buttercups, and trumpet creeper.

-These plants can cause skin irritations. Varies from person to person.

3. Photo dermatitis plants include mainly members of the Carrot family, like wild parsnip, and giant hogweed. The rue family, Rutaceae and the mulberry family, Moraceae, also have a few culprits including garden rue, gas plant, and fig trees.

- The reaction is caused by furocoumarin chemicals (psoralens) present in plants in combination with Ultraviolet A (UVA) light. After exposure to the plants sap and sunlight, blisters form in a few hours.

- When the blisters resolve, there is dark, streaky hyperpigmentation that can last for months.

4. Stinging plants have nettles.

-Touching a nettle can cause a toxic reaction. However, the initial/immediate reaction does not last long and has no lasting effect.

5. Prickly plants include, among others, thistles, roses, gooseberry, blackberry and raspberry bushes, and black locust and honey locust trees.

-Infection can result from an embedded thorn.

- A scratch can also cause an infection especially if dirt gets into the scratch.

 Check out my latest fact sheet to learn more:

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