Rash-causing and Dangerous Plants

We enjoy sharing all things poison ivy, but did you know there are other plants that can make you itch or may be potentially dangerous? We consulted the American Academy of Dermatology to get a list of common plants that cause misery.

Plants in the Garden

Fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden are wonderful, but some of their plants can make you itch. Strawberries, tomatoes, hot peppers and garlic can all cause rashes to those who are sensitive to them.

Strawberry and Tomato Plants
Strawberry and Tomato Plants

Hot Pepper and Garlic Plants
Hot Pepper and Garlic Plants


Rose hips, the round portion of the rose flower just below the petals, are commonly used in supplements and teas, but the plants can cause an irritating rash.


Rose Hips


The borage plant is used as a cooking herb, but it has stiff hairs that can penetrate the skin and cause a rash. Comfrey is also a member of the borage family and can cause an itchy reaction when handling the plant.


Borage and Comfrey


Remember to wear gloves when planting your winter bulbs! Tulip, hyacinth or daffodil bulbs can all make you itch.

Tulip, Hyacinth and Daffodil bulbs
Tulip, Hyacinth and Daffodil bulbs


Poisonous Plants to Avoid!

Some plants should be avoided altogether. They can be dangerous and cause more than just a minor rash.

Located along the Pacific Crest Trail in Southern California, the poodle-dog bush can cause a blistering rash similar to poison oak. If you come across the plant, you may be able to identify it by its strong smell.

Poodle-Dog Bush
Poodle-Dog Bush


Giant hogweed is likely found along streams, in fields and forests, and alongside the road. It is native to Southwest Asia and was brought to the USA in the early 1900's to use as an ornamental plant. Giant hogweed can be dangerous as its sap can cause severe burns when exposed to sunlight and result in possible scarring.

Giant Hogweed
Giant Hogweed


Like giant hogweed, the sap from wild parsnip can cause a severe burning, blistering rash.

Wild Parsnip
Wild Parsnip


Commonly mistaken for wild carrot or wild parsnip, poison hemlock can be very toxic to both humans and animals. This plant can be a problem in farmlands because the animals will eat it. Poison hemlock can also be found along creekbeds, irrigation and waste areas. All parts of this plant are toxic, so you want to steer clear of it.

Poison Hemlock
Poison Hemlock


Even more potent than poison hemlock, water hemlock only requires a minimal amount of exposure to be poisonous to humans and animals.

Water Hemlock
Water Hemlock


Stinging nettle has hairy leaves that can causing itching and a painful rash when it comes in contact with skin. We have a longer post about nettle here. 

Stinging Nettle
Stinging Nettle


We must not forget our favorites, poison ivy, oak and sumac, which are well known for their rash-causing abilities.

Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac
Poison Ivy, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac


What to do?

As best practice, you should always wear protective gloves when handling potentially irritating plants and wash up as soon as possible when done. We, of course, also suggest cleaning up with Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser to remove any dirt and oils from your skin.

Use plastic bags to cover a plant before you remove it and use a fresh plastic bag for each plant. Leave the plant inside the bag to dispose of it to avoid touching it in any way.

Cover your skin with long sleeves and pants to avoid contact with potentially harmful plants. This is good practice whether you are enjoying the outdoor trails or working in your own yard. Be sure to wash any exposed clothing before wearing it again.

Use a weed killer or white vinegar to destroy the plant's roots to avoid having it grow again.

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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.
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