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Plants that can make you itch

For most, knowledge of hazardous plants is limited to the phrase, “leaves of three, leave them be.” However, despite widespread awareness of a few common culprits, many casual outdoor enthusiasts may find themselves with an itchy souvenir following an encounter with a flower or shrub.

While poison ivy is the most common cause of contact dermatitis in the United States, a host of other common plants are capable of producing skin reactions. (Learn more about poison ivy, oak, and sumac)

Your backyard can be home to a variety of potentially hazardous plants. The following homegrown crops have been known to cause skin reactions:

  • Strawberry

  • Garlic

  • Tomato

  • Comfrey

  • Borage

  • Rose hips

  • Hot peppers

  • Tulip bulbs

  • Daffodil bulbs

  • Hyacinth bulbs

In addition, combined exposure to citrus fruit and sunlight should be avoided. Lemons, limes, clementines, oranges, and grapefruit all contain light-sensitizing chemicals that can cause a rash.

Avoid rash decisions — Don't touch these plants!


Watch out! These plants can be found in all continental U.S. states:


Source: https://plants.usda.gov
*Spotted Water Hemlock can also be found in Alaska

Poison ivy prevention

Plastic bag icon
Plastic bags are your friends
Use plastic or heavy shopping bags to pull plants from the soil, replacing the bags with the pulling of each plant. Plastic bags can also be used to cover arms for additional protection during the removal process.

Plant roots icon
Get to the root
Any lingering shoots or seedlings can be killed with white vinegar.

Tshirt icon
Cover up
Keep skin as covered as possible to avoid any potential contact. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Rinse hands icon
Rinse, rinse, rinse
After removal or exposure to poison ivy, rinse any exposed skin with water immediately (avoid soap or harsh scrubbing), and wash clothes immediately. 

"More Than Just Poison Ivy," Dermatology World, June 2018.