Are bromeliads 'Poisonous'?

bihai(zone 9)February 4, 2007

Everytime I am working in my greenhouse doing weeding and trimming and stuff, if I get "scraped" by the spines on my Neos etc, I get a rash that really burns! Do bromeliads secrete some chemical that causes this? If so what is it exactly?? Sometimes I have to use cortisone cream on it. Is this only me? (ie, am I allergic?) Or is it everyone?

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None that I've heard of Bihai. 'Course, there could be the possibility of bacterial "floaties" that abound in greenhouses. Microbes and other nasty flotsam probably thrive in the humid enviroment. Get some of those arm sleeves from a nursery catalogue. Myself? The red marks from scratches and nicks disappear pretty quick.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 5:27PM
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Actually I have heard that brom spines exude some kind of mildly toxic substance. I can't remember where I read that..... one of the old Journals probably.

I don't have a problem if it's just a surface scrape, but when they break off under your skin and you can't get them out right away it can get pretty inflamed. Not nearly as bad as some of the spiny Euphorbias though.

Nitrile gloves are great for protecting your hands, it's my wrists that always have a red ring around them. I have some long-cuffed leather gloves that I use for rough work, but for delicate jobs you need to be able to feel what you're doing.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 6:19PM
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I wear gloves and arm protection so chemicals put in/on the plants dont enter threw my skin

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 7:04PM
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bob740(zone 6 ,NY)

bihai,it sounds like you may have an alergy.When I work on triming,potting,etc on the broms at the Bot.Gdns.,the next day it looks like my hands and arms have the measles.But no rash,just dozens of red dots and scratches that are gone in about 3 days.I rub on some Johnsons first aid cream the first day,and it helps to get a fast healing.I've never used gloves,just don't like the clumsy feeling.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 8:30PM
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pllove(Z 9b FL)

Thank goodness..for this topic!I thought I was allergic or crazy!After working with some of my hands have been on fire.the itching is unbelieveable..I have even clawed and self mutilated myself,trying to ease the discomfort!....and you wouldn't believe the concoctions I've used to try and get some relief and nothing working but pain is right up there with fire ants!.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 8:37PM
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could be pesticide or fertilzer causing the rash too...mine was

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 10:28PM
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Yeah, that sounds like something else causing that. I've never had any itching or burning rash from broms.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2007 at 11:37PM
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Patris(9 Gulf Coast)

This will sound a little strange, but trust me it works. I also get a much milder itch and rash after trimming and potting. I use Preperation H cream which always stops the itching and burning. If you think about it, what do they claim it does?? LOL

I keep it out in the greenhouse just for cuts, scraps and insect bites. It does seem to speed healing time to about half also. I asked my doctor about an allergy to the plant and she thougt it had more to do with sensitive skin.

Anyhow, give it a try and hope it helps you.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 6:08AM
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bihai(zone 9)

LOL Patris, Preparation H is an old "beauty secret" of the stars! I saw it on Good Morning America once. TV people use it as a quick fix for bags under the eyes....supposedly it tightens the skin right up! Supposed to be pretty harsh on that type of skin though.
I have some Retinol gel (prescription) that they gave my daughter for severe excema...that stuff is like an instant facelift, but its so harsh its not worth it to even use it.

I think Plove and I may have an allergy to whatever it is that broms secrete.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 7:28AM
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I have pretty sensitive skin when it comes to plants and also fireants.

I discovered after a fireant attack that if I mix antibiotic cream and benadryl creme together, that my bites/scratches/pricks heal very quickly.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2007 at 4:30PM
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I had the same reaction when potting up some bromeliads for a plant sale yesterday. I asked Houston Chronicle's Lazy Gardener and she sent me this link. It turns out that there is a cross reaction to bromeliad sap if you are allergic to latex. Pineapples too. I have been stuck by pineapple spines as well and was uncomfortable but it wasn't such a fiery pain. Apparantly these plant cousins share a common allergen: thioprotease bromelain.

I am, indeed, allergic to latex and the reaction is the same as the original post mentioned: fiery burning and redness. I've been on antihistamines since I got scraped and it's still itchy and painful. Some of those bromeliads are so beautiful I'm pretty sad about this. I'll just have to love them from afar, I guess.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bromeliad allergic reaction

    Bookmark   April 25, 2009 at 1:42PM
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You are not crazy.
I just moved a large grouping of Bromeliads yesterday in my yard. About an hour later I had the worst itching (with some burning) that I have ever experienced. I had hundreds of scrapes and scratches all over my legs and arms. The scatches swell up and turn red.

I had chickenpox as an adult(much more severe than in childhood). I wanted to cut off my skin. This was WORSE.

The chlorine from a pool helps a great deal, but you can't sit in a pool all night.

Cortisone cream is the only thing that helped. I tried the cortisone gel (oily clear kind) and it works for only about 15 minutes. The cream lasted much longer and allowed me to sleep. Itching was gone in the morning.

I have had these bromeliads in my yard for 8 years. I have never used pesticides. Don't let people tell you it's pesticides. It's not. You are just one of the rare people with allergies.

I don't know why this information is so difficult to come by, given that it is such a HORRENDOUS reaction for those who are allergic.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 9:48AM
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fdnpedro(NSW north coast)

I also get badly affected with red whelts where spines dig in. I use ti-tree oil diluted slightly with water and all is well and the sooner it's applied the better. It is an antiseptic and should be available in most countries, so maybe bacteria are involved. The best way to avoid this issue is to wear long airy latex gloves for the big'uns and shorter ones for smaller spiny stuff.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 6:31PM
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Neosporin with pain relief. Put it on and overnight my swelled painful blisters and scratches are absolutly gone. I put it on like I would suntain lotion. Quite a bit.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2011 at 8:08AM
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I get red welts too, from handling neos especially, and find that aloe vera gel is the best thing for relieving the discomfort and promoting rapid healing. Also, as Pedro suggested, tea tree oil is helpful too.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2011 at 1:55AM
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It's not pesticides. I'm allergic to eating pineapple and I had the burning hives reaction to touching another bromeliad.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 1:05PM
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I got an extremely allergic reaction from pineapple once. How was I to know you were supposed to detach it from the plant before eating!!!!

    Bookmark   March 25, 2014 at 2:48PM
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