Tomato skin itch

Dale Putnam(z6/7oklahoma)July 20, 2010

The tomatos are doing well and picking them is a pleasure.

However, afterwards my forearms itch a lot and thoroughly washing them only helps a little. What can I do?

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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

Do you wash them immediately? You probably try your usual lotion, so why not try to soothe them with corn starch?


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 11:16AM
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owiebrain(5 MO)

I get itchy, too, from tomatoes, okra, squash, you name it. I'm even allergic to eating tomatoes (and melons and carrots and strawberries, etc) but I'll be darned if I let that stop me! LOL

All I do is scrub well when I come in with a dandruff shampoo. (Dandruff shampoo seems to soothe a lot of skin issues.) If it's still itching badly, I'll rub some hand sanitizer over the worst parts. Then it's just patience waiting for it to stop (so it can start all over again the next day).


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 1:18PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Tomatoes are a common cause of contact dermatitis. First, I'd suggest you put on a long-sleeved cotton (so it breathes) shirt when harvesting. For most people long sleeves provide adequate protection although for a few highly allergic folks they do not.

Second, wash your hands and arms thoroughly after making contact with tomato plants. If the itching continues. apply an over-the-counter hydrocortizone cream like Lanacane or Cortaid or whatever.

Third, if the itching is very persisent, you could take an oral antihistamine like Benadryl.

Forth, when an oral antihistamine like Bendaryl doesn't control the itching, you can take one of the stomach acid medications like Tagamet that is a histamine blocker. I have to take Tagamet once or twice a month for severe itching.

Finally, many people develop contact dermatitis from many garden plants, especially tomatoes, okra and plants in the cucurbit family. However, if eating any of those makes your lips, mouth or tongue tingle, then you also have an oral allergy and shouldn't eat them. For the few people who have an oral allergy to these foods, eating them can be deadly. Remember than an allergy develops through repeated exposure so you can develop an allergy at any time.

Also, for some of us (and I fall into this group) it isn't merely touching a tomato plant that makes the allergic reaction happen. Instead, it is a phototxpic reaction requiring sunlight and exposure to the plant in unison. If I make contact with tomato plants for hours in the sunlight, I'll get terribly itchy and develop a rash that lasts for days or even weeks. I had this problem constantly in the early 2000s when I was growing ever increasing numbers of tomato plants and spent hours in the garden with them every day. So, if I need to prune to remove dead or diseased foliage, for example, I try to do it early or late in the day when sunlight is weak, or on very cloudy days. If I have to handle the plants a lot on a sunny day, I wear long sleeves AND take both Bendadryl and Tagamet before I go out to the garden.

Oatmeal makes a great skin soother too, but it only works for me with a mild outbreak of itching and rash. If I have a severe case of it, nothing really helps. Aveeno makes a line of oatmeal-based lotions that are wonderful skin soothers for mild itching.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 2:21PM
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owiebrain(5 MO)

Dawn said:

"However, if eating any of those makes your lips, mouth or tongue tingle, then you also have an oral allergy and shouldn't eat them."

I've been allergic to many fruits and veggies my whole life. My mouth, throat, and ears itch like mad anytime I eat any of tomatoes, melons, strawberries, carrots, and whatever else I'm not recalling right now. I doubt I'll ever stop eating them -- unless I croak.

I cannot think of a better way to go than while eating tomatoes & melons (although, I certainly hope it's later rather than sooner)! ;-)


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 2:33PM
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I'm like you. I can tell when I'm having a good tomato season as I will break out in a red rash on my arms. Used to be worse than it has been the last couple of year. Of course those years weren't good tomato years either. I'm allergic to sweet corn pollinating. I just came in from checking all the tomatoes and picking sweet corn and have a good itch. Like I told my doctor. My veggies and my home grown aged rib eye steak are a few things I won't give up. Something has to be the cause of my demise and it might as well be something I enjoy as a soy burger. I'm just happy I have something to make me itch this year. I'm allergic to so many veggies fresh and canned that like one allergy doctor said if you eliminated everything you were allergic too you wouldn't have much choice. When they ran the test for over 350 different things I was allergic to 2/3 of them. Cottonwoods, bermuda grass,elm trees, cedar trees, alfalfa, corn pollen and eating it, tomatoes(plants and eating) and the list just goes on. Jay

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 7:35PM
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The scary part happenens when you can no longer tolerate ANY exposure to those things, and that will probably happen at some point.

Itching and rashes are just symptoms that you body isn't tolerating something well. About 12 or 13 years ago, I broke out in hives and had swelling so frequently that my doctor got worried and told me he wanted me on Allegra everyday without fail, even if I had no symptoms. It changed my life. I still take it daily.

Even at that, I have a serious allergy that it doesn't control. I suppose that I have had it all of my life but it just was not as serious when I was younger. Most people find Red Dye #40, to be totally tasteless, but to me it is extremely bitter. When I was a child, I always wanted to eat Red Hots because I liked the cinnamon, but I couldn't stand the bitterness. Sometimes red peppermint candy was the same way, but other times it wasn't. There was a candy that I think was called CherryMash, and I loved everything except the bitterness. I didn't know that no one else tasted the bitterness. I remembered being stretched out on the front porch with my head handing off the side and too sick to get up, after eating something made with a red gelatin. Once I had to go running out of a restaurant because I got so sick.

Then it started to happen everytime, without fail. I had no idea what was wrong with me. I thought I had some weird stomach disorder. If I went to town to eat, I would have to come straight home because I would start having tremendous intestinal cramps, (and more). For the next 2 to 3 hours, I would be miserable until my body could flush it all out. I almost stopped eating out.

One night I got really sick at a meeting at my church and my DH had to take me home. He begged me to go to the emergency room (and I should have) because of all of the chills and tremors that came with the other symptoms that time. Anyway, I had not eaten anything, but had drunk one small cup of pink lemonade.

I was too embarassed to call and find out what the drink was, but a friend of mine found out that it was just store brand frozen pink lemonade. The same week that this happened, the local news carried a story about people that were allergic to Red Dye #40 and an university study that was being done on the subject. My friend saw it and called me and I listened to the news that night, then read everything on the web about it. I started to watch everything that I put in my mouth. I got better, but sometimes I goofed, and would learn the hard way, that yogurt had red dye, or cake mix, or bar-b-que sauce, or almost anything with an artificial berry flavor. Of course, there were also lots of obvious ones. Then I began to remember having to go to the emergency room once after starting to take a pink pill the day before. Then there was the time a doctor in Ohio changed two meds because I told her I couldn't take the cough medicine, and she was positive it was the antibiotic, not the cough medicine. After I finally knew what it was I could see that I had experienced problems for years, but not as severe.

I don't eat a lot of processed foods, but when I do, I stand in the store and read the label before I take it home. I hate pot luck dinners, and find that I skip a lot of things on buffets. Drinks are especially loaded. I think the more exposure you get to the allergen, the more likely you are to develop a 'real' problem, so you guys be careful. Now you see another reason I like to grow my own food.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 8:56PM
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Carol- every winter holiday season I make home-made hard candy in the cinnamon flavor. This year I VOW to make one batch with no red food coloring - just for you! If I get stupid busy, please shoot me an e-mail and ask if I've made candy yet. That'll remind me...if I haven't already made it!

I just came in from picking....and my lower legs are itching crazy!!! What I've found works best like the other is WASH IMMEDIATELY the itchy areas. Then I coat in benedryl gel. It's under $4 for a 4 oz. bottle and I go thru 1 and a bit of another every spring/summer. It's also great for mosquito bites.

Being close to a lake and mostly rural for miles & miles, we have a LOT of those no matter what I do. Anybody experienced the critter biting thru the picardin and even the Deet products? I have and that really worries me. I've got so many hummer feeders around that I'm adding them to my tax return...but they're not keeping up with their end of the bargain! I'm filling my feeders every 3 or 4 days and the population is growing...maybe I should slack off the feeder filling some? roger33 or boomer_sooner, have you noticed this in our area?


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 9:39PM
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Paula, That's sweet and I will try to remember to remind you. I even have to search for the dye-free Benadryl and have a box on my desk right now.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 10:00PM
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sammy zone 7 Tulsa

I am allergic to mosquito bites, and have been taking the shots for them and many other things for 30 years. You might want to see an allergist for your reactions, and find out exactly what is going on.

I have another allergy that I won't get into now, but it is serious. It doesn't hurt to find out through the testing exactly what your allergies are and what your options for treatment are.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 10:29PM
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Does anyone else have all their white clothes turn yellow after rubbing against tomato plants while wet?

I have my white t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts and some hand towels all stained yellow after lots of contact with the plants. Maybe it also has to do with sweat (lots of experience this year). After I scrub my hands and arms when I come in, whatever towel I use to dry will get some yellow on it.

I don't seem to have the problem contacting the other plants in the garden, just reaching through tomato plants for an hour or so each day..

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 10:47PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Yes I do. Sometimes both my clothing and my hands/arms are so stained with green from the tomato plants that they are starting to look black, and my clothing looks like I laid down and rolled in the grass and got grass stains only they're tomato plant stains.

The easiest way to get the darn stuff off your hands is to cut a tomato in half and rub it on your hands and then wash your hands. The tomato juice removes that stain from your hands like magic.

For the clothing, after ruining regular clothing for years, I started buying men's plain white T-shirts in an XL size and I wear them to work in the garden. I like them big and loose, and they are only white the very first time I wear them outside. However, with bleach I can get most of the stains out and at the end of the garden season, Tim has a new pile of formerly white t-shirts turned rags to use in the garage.

My regular clothing stays in such better shape since it isn't worn out into the garden any more, and one 6-pack or 7-pack of men's crew-neck white undershirts lasts me the entire gardening season.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 8:22AM
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Dale Putnam(z6/7oklahoma)

Dear Friends,
Thanks for the newsy comments on ''itch'' and the many different ways to deal with it.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2010 at 1:47PM
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